hero image
Dennis Shelden - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Troy, NY, US

Dennis Shelden

Director, Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE) | Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Co-Director of the Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems (EBESS) and leading expert on dynamic building systems.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Cloud Based Building Systems

Generative Modelling

Built Environments

Smart Systems

Open Data Over the Web


Dennis Shelden is a licensed architect, academic, author, and entrepreneur, whose experience spans architecture, engineering, and computer science applications to professional practice and the built environment. He writes and lectures widely on these topics from theoretical and technical as well as professional practice, economic, and industry transformation perspectives.

Dennis joined the architecture firm Gehry Partners in 1997 while still in MIT’s PhD program, first as Director of Research and Development, then as Director of Computing, and was responsible for the management and strategic direction of the firm’s computing program including software and process development, research, IT infrastructure, and partnerships. His PhD Thesis Digital Surface Representation and the Constructability of Gehry’s Architecture remains a widely referenced treatise on the motivations and technical underpinnings of the firm’s revolutionary applications of digital modeling to the design and delivery of complex buildings.

In 2002 he co-founded the spinoff company Gehry Technologies, serving as Chief Technology Officer on the development of several software products and Project Executive on numerous ground breaking building projects until the firm’s acquisition by Trimble in 2014.

He co-directs the technical program for BuildingSmart International, the building industries’ open information standards body, where he leads efforts to develop technology platforms for open data Web and cloud based building design, construction and operations systems.

His publications have appeared in journals including AD: Architectural Design, TAD: Technology and Architectural Design, and the Journal of Construction Automation, and he has been interviewed in publications including the Economist, New York Times, Design Intelligence, and Engineering News Record. He is editor for the forthcoming book series Practical Revolutions: Professional Applications of Disruptive Technologies to Building, published by Wiley.

Education (3)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Doctorate, Philosophy of Design and Computation

Under the advisement of the late William J. Mitchell

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Master of Science, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Bachelor of Science, Architectural Design

Media Appearances (5)

Co-Directors Named for Rensselaer Institute for EBESS

LightED  print


Dennis Shelden and Robert Karlicek, the heads of two prominent research centers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will serve as co-directors of the new Rensselaer Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems (EBESS).

view more

RPI to co-host Capital Region Sustainable Futures Conference

Troy Record  print


... According to Shelden, the conference naturally aligns with the mission of CASE, which has been driving collaborative innovation in sustainable architecture and the built environment for more than a decade. With locations in Brooklyn and Troy, CASE works with researchers, students, and industry leaders across architecture, construction, technology, and product supply chains with the goal of advancing sustainable, resilient, and healthy environments. ...

view more

Technology Transformation: Are We There Yet?

Design Intelligence Media Group  online


In this wide-ranging discussion, RPI’s CASE Director Dennis Shelden shares his journey and vision for industry change.

view more

Undivided Episode 8: Fast Forward

By Design  online


While firms continue to weigh the effects of the pandemic in isolation, our eighth episode connects it to a chain of disruptive events with the power to accelerate a new golden age. Exploring the tangible possibilities for the discipline are Lonn Combs, co-founder of Easton Combs Architects and Director of the Master of Architecture Program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Dennis Shelden, Director of Rensselaer’s Center for Architecture, Science and Ecology (CASE). Their no-holds barred conversation reveals stunning insights in what it will take for architecture to regain control of its future, and the technology necessary to unlock the rapid innovation our built environments now require.

view more

A Q+A with Dennis Shelden, RPI’s Center for Architecture Science and Ecology new director

The Architect's Newspaper  print


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE) has announced that architect and entrepreneur Dennis Shelden will be taking over as its director. The academic-industrial research and teaching alliance, focused on using technology to address concerns of “built ecology,” was founded in 2007, and is located across RPI’s main campus in Troy, New York, and in Industry City in Brooklyn.

view more

Articles (1)

Digital surface representation and the constructibility of Gehry's architecture


Shelden, Dennis R


This thesis presents work in the development of computational descriptions of Gehry's architectural forms. In Gehry's process for realizing buildings, computation serves as an intermediary agent for the integration of design intent with the geometric logics of fabrication and construction. This agenda for digital representation of both formal and operational intentions, in the context of an ongoing exploration of challenging geometries, has provided new roles for computation in architectural practice. The work described in this thesis focuses on the digital representation of surface geometry and its capacity for describing the constructibility of building enclosure systems. A

view more