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Justin Diles

  • Assistant Professor, Architecture Section
277 Knowlton Hall
614-292-8461

Justin Diles is an assistant professor of architecture at the Knowlton School. His current design work and research centers on the architectural effects of thick assemblies made from thin but strong materials. Strategically drawing on architectural history, contemporary visual culture, digital design and fabrication techniques, and advanced composite materials, Diles teaches studios and seminars that promote architecture that is visually animated, materially concentrated and expertly constructed.

Diles received his Bachelor's Degree in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and his Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006, where he was awarded the Faculty Prize for distinguished work. Before coming to Knowlton, he taught at The University of Applied Arts, Vienna in the studio of Greg Lynn and at the University of Pennsylvania as a lecturer in the post-professional program.

Diles has led numerous workshops on contemporary design techniques, most recently at the 2011 Smart Geometry Workshop at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen. He enjoys an ongoing collaboration and dialogue with the structural engineer and programmer Clemens Preisinger at Bollinger Grohmann Engineers, Vienna. Prior to joining the architecture faculty, Diles held the Knowlton School’s Howard E. LeFevre Emerging Practitioner Fellowship during which he developed an original architectural tectonic from his research into deformation patterns produced by structural buckling.

Recent Work

Super Sips Schools

This project reimagines the one-room schoolhouse as a portable building constructed from structural insulated panels (SIPs). The panels are made from ultra-lightweight materials: foam and fiberglass impregenated with fire-resistant phenolic resin. This panel technology is currently being developed for the defense industry by NexGen Composites, located in Dayton, Ohio. Our project envisions a domestic use–relocatable schools–for a product that is primarily used by the military to create mobile command centers deployed abroad. 

Relocatable buildings in the United States comprise a one billion dollar industry primarily targeting school overcrowding. The typical portable school employs heavy, conventional wood framing systems that are prefabricated in narrow modules constrained by roadway dimensions. Our design rethinks the problem of the portable school with a flat-pack system of lightweight SIPs that can be quickly assembled on site. A variety of layouts can be efficiently achieved with simply shaped panels, overcoming the “box problem” that haunts portable construction.

Our design also uses a system of strong graphic patterning to bind the individual prismatic panels into an unified composition. Custom, procedurally-generated designs are developed for projection onto the panels from a variety of angles; these textures produce visual depth, animating the chamfered surfaces of the schoolhouse.