The concept of provenance delves into the origins and narratives encapsulated within the materials and products deployed in construction. Provenance presents architects and builders with an extraordinary opportunity to make ethical choices that are not just sustainable but deeply meaningful, leading to transformative impacts in our built environment.

While the notion of provenance is often associated with art ownership, it resonates within architecture and construction as well. The “Ownership history,” as described by Christel Force, Metropolitan Museum of Art associate research curator, posits that “objects have a life from the time they are created, with provenance tracing their biography. Provenance is the lives of objects and their owners, wrapped into one.”

The studio will investigate provenance through various lenses, including how it advances ethical sourcing and labor rights, the inextricable link between social and environmental impacts, and the opportunity to champion the value of craft.


Students will develop a center for advancing architectural provenance, which will include space for research and development of regional biogenic materials, as well as spaces for public facing exhibits and education.


The location of the center will be selected by students.


The beginning of the semester will focus on site selection and relevant anthropological desk research, including investigation of the regional materials and craft, which are intended to be generative sources of both program and form in the future design projects.

Site Visit

We will visit San Francisco and regions north of the city, anchored with a visit and engagement with the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity. This will include a visit and tour into the largest archive of Eames ephemera in the world. The Eameses believed nature was the ultimate designer and that “eventually everything connects”. We will also visit the Eames Ranch, “a working farm where the practices of design and regenerative agriculture are integrated to build a better world for tomorrow.”

Studio intent

Provenance invites us to engage with our surroundings. It empowers us to design spaces that transcend superficial aesthetics, embody ethics, and foster planetary restoration. Good provenance has expansive meaning and across disciplines, it includes responsible material extraction that respects planetary boundaries, leveraging the use of native species to promote biodiversity in our landscapes, and maximizing the potential of adaptive reuse for our existing buildings.

By caring deeply about the origins of our materials and products, we can create spaces that resonate with the values of our time. Provenance reminds us that architecture encompasses more than structures; it encapsulates stories, cultures, and the legacy we bequeath to the future.

All Semesters

Spring 2023
Advanced Design Studio: Brick Oven
Mauricio Pezo, Sofía von Ellrichshausen, José Aragüez
Spring 2022
Advanced Design Studio: National Slavery Memorial in Washington, DC
Rodney Leon, Doriane Meyer