Research Centers

As part of a national doctoral research university, the College of Architecture and the Built Environment is home to several cutting-edge research institutes, centers and labs — spanning architecture, design and the built environment. They provide faculty, students and researchers opportunities for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration on advanced research questions, and investigations addressing today's challenges such as climate change, rapid urbanization and social justice.

Graduate and post-graduate students have the opportunity to engage with our expert faculty on research and design projects to advance their education and to garner research and scholarship experience while they are pursuing their Master or PhD degree. Undergraduate students interact with faculty in design research projects while pursuing their professional degrees and have opportunities to make a difference in their communities through community-based design and research projects.

Money Shot Board

Institute for Smart & Healthy Cities

The Institute for Smart & Healthy Cities focuses on envisioning and building cities that are healthier, livable and more efficient. It was created to support related research, innovation, and education happening across Jefferson by bringing faculty experts together to solve complex issues and research questions.


Malawi Health & Design Collaborative

Malawi’s public infrastructure faces unique challenges every day, such as rapid urbanization, and the impacts of growing populations on health, education, and urban systems. The Malawi Health & Design Collaborative works in partnership with Malawian institutions and government to strengthen Malawi’s health and education infrastructure.

Park in a Truck initiative

Lab for Urban & Social Innovation

The Lab for Urban & Social Innovation focuses on Philadelphia as a living lab and brings together communities, students, faculty and stakeholders by conducting workshops, design studios, design charrettes, funded research and consulting services. Together, they work tirelessly to ensure the impacts of real-world design, construction and environmental projects are felt on a wide scale.

Malawi Health & Design Collaborative group with Chris Harnish

Center for the Preservation of Modernism

Jefferson understands the importance of preserving early and mid-century modern architecture. The campus is home to the Hassrick House, a significant design by Richard Neutra, who came to be celebrated as one of the most prominent modern architects. The site serves as a case study for historic preservation students, and home to the Center for the Preservation of Modernism.

Synesthetic Research & Design Lab close-up image

Synesthetic Research & Design Lab

The Synesthetic Research & Design Lab serves as collaborative research and prototyping platform where interactive design, digital culture and emergent health sciences meet. The Lab continuously aims to learn from unexpected collaborations, test unconventional ideas and leverage novel pedagogical explorations to engage with young minds from diverse backgrounds.

Malawi Health & Design Collaborative group with Chris Harnish


The IDEA Lab (Interdisciplinary Design + Experimental Architecture Lab) is an interdisciplinary design laboratory that promotes architectural innovation through material experimentation and performance-based design strategies. We aim to understand the expressive, experiential and environmentally beneficial possibilities of innovative material strategies.



SMARTlab is an academic collective created to ignite change. It promotes user-driven, transdisciplinary research, leveraging Creative Technology Innovations for social change. For three decades, SMARTlab has run an award-winning practice-based PhD Program and delivered high-impact research, development and innovation program and projects. SMARTlab aims to bring together the brightest minds across disciplines and to provide them with the tools they need to contribute to solving real-world problems and building sustainable solutions.