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Dana Cupkova - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Dana Cupkova

Associate Professor | Carnegie Mellon University


Dana Cupkova is a co-founder and design director of EPIPHYTE Lab, an architectural design and research collaborative.


Previously an Assistant Professor, Dana Cupkova holds Associate Professorship at the Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture and is a co-founder and design director of EPIPHYTE Lab, an architectural design and research collaborative. From 2005 to 2012 she was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Cornell University Department of Architecture. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of ACADIA and is Track Chair of SoA’s Masters of Science in Sustainable Design (MSSD) program.

Cupkova's design work engages the built environment at the intersection of ecology, computationally driven processes, and systems analysis. In her research, she interrogates the relationship between design-space and ecology as it engages computational methods, thermodynamic processes, and experimentation with geometrically driven performance logic.

Cupkova's design work has been published internationally in professional venues such as Dwell, The Architectural Review, Green Building & Design, The Cornell Journal of Architecture, Architect's Newspaper, International Journal of Architectural Computing and presented at many academic conferences.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Advanced Manufacturing




Computational Design

Media Appearances (3)

Cardoso Llach Curates Computational Design Exhibition

Carnegie Mellon University News  online


Specifically, the show illuminates the 20th Century emergence of new methods for design representation, simulation and manufacturing linked to digital computers' capacities for information processing and display, and reflects on their contemporary repercussions across architecture, art and design. Along with a selection of historical materials, works by 30 contemporary creators are displayed including Philip Beesley, Felicia Davis and Delia Dumitrescu, and Rafael Lozano Hemmer, as well as by CMU faculty including Dana Cupkova, Ramesh Krishnamurti, and Golan Levin. A team of the School of Architecture's Computational Design students, including Jinmo Rhee, Emek Erdolu, Erik Ulberg, Maria Vlachostergiou and Mali Tribune, contributed to the show's curation and design, and to the preparation of several interactive pieces on display in Montréal.

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Panel, Material Responsibility: Mollie Claypool, Dana Cupkova, and Achim Menges

ArchDaily  online


Presentations from Mollie Claypool (The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL), Dana Cupkova (Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture), and Achim Menges (University of Stuttgart Institute for Computational Design and Construction), will be followed by a panel discussion with Taubman College faculty.

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Epiphyte Lab creates architecture "with empathy to all species"

Dezeen  online


Dana Cupkova, an associate professor at the Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture, founded the firm in 2009 alongside her late collaborator Kevin Pratt, with the aim of creating architecture that "acts like an epiphyte".

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Dana Cupkova Keynote - SimAUD2019 Dana Cupkova // Computational Design Symposium, October 2017 CoAD Design x Technology Lecture | Dana Cupkova Attuning Matter - Dana Cupkova



Industry Expertise (3)


Architecture and Planning


Accomplishments (3)

Unrestricted University Fellowship (professional)

School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA

Mimi Perloff Award (professional)

School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA

Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship (professional)

School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA

Education (2)

School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA: M.Arch., Architecture and Urban Design

Slovak University of Technology: Professional degree of Engineer Architect, Architecture and Urban Design

Event Appearances (1)

Greening the Urban Environment

CMUThink  Pittsburgh, PA

Articles (5)

AI, architecture, accessibility, and data justice—ACADIA special issue

International Journal of Architectural Computing

2023 n recent years, the field of architectural research has trended towards rapid evolution as new digital technologies that integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into design, representation, and production have become more prominent. As with any paradigm shift and rapid emergence of transformative technology, new tensions and fears of human distancing away from acts of design and making arise. Outside of architecture, AI already plays a significant role in fields such as engineering, IT, and the social/political sciences, with a deepening discourse on its effect on humanity, and the ethics of its labor.

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Impact and collective empathy

International Journal of Architectural Computing

2020 The prevalence of ubiquitous computing offers new territories for engagement within design and technology. As the world’s resources decline and conditions of scarcity and inequality define many communities, the role of architectural design must shift towards amplifying impact. Investments in technological innovation have historically been used to augment or restore dwindling resources via efficient material productions and assemblies.

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Cradling Bodies: Trajectories of Minds, Objects and Enclosures

Digital Fabrication in Interior Design

2021 The trajectory of Digital Fabrication in Interior Design: Body, Object, Enclosure engages the effects of technology's poetics and pragmatics on style, materiality, formal language and spatial concepts. Embedded electromechanical systems within the body of a panel enable directed communication based on relationship of material mass, biofeedback and sensed human brainwave. In the century-long process of humankind humanizing nature, the power of our technology has asserted control over natural systems, and is finally reaching a breaking point.

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Mass Regimes: Geometric Actuation of Thermal Behavior

International Journal of Architectural Computing

2015 The Mass Regimes is a research project that investigates the effect of complex geometry on processes of passive heat distribution in thermal mass systems. In the context of systems thinking, this research intends to instrumentalize design principles that engage a wider range of design tactics for choreographing thermal gradients between buildings and their environment. Research for this project has brought about a deeper understanding of how specific geometric manipulations of surface area over the same mass (Figure 1) affect the rate of thermal transfer.

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Robotic concrete surface finishing: a moldless approach to creating thermally tuned surface geometry for architectural building components using Profile-3D-Printing

Construction Robotics

2018 This paper focuses on describing a novel hybrid concrete printing/casting process we term Profile-3D-Printing. Profile-3D-Printing is an additive/subtractive manufacturing process that combines deposition of concrete for rough layup with precision tooling for surface finishing of architectural building components commonly found in the architectural precast industry. Our research team from Architecture, the Robotics Institute, and Material Science invented this novel hybrid manufacturing process for robotically printing architectural facade panels with complex surface geometries.

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