Karen Kensek

Professor of Practice; ACSA Distinguished Professor


SB, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; M.Arch., University of California, Berkeley

Professor Kensek teaches in the field of computer applications for architecture. Her research work includes BIM + Sustainability, BIM + digital simulation, virtual reconstruction of ancient places, the role of ambiguity in reconstructions, solar envelopes, and digital design. Previously she taught computer seminars and assisted with computer-aided design studios at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was the recipient of numerous grants and donations of computer hardware and software. She is a past president of the Association of Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA), was awarded the 2002 Tau Sigma Delta medal for distinction in teaching and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society at USC in 2004. She has been teaching for over 20 years in the transforming field of computer applications. Kensek has hosted many building information modeling symposia at USC, annually since 2008. She has spoken at the AIA Annual Conference several times, was awarded with the School of Architecture the Autodesk Revit BIM Experience Award in 2008, and spearheaded the effort for an Honorable Mention awarded by the AIA TAP Group in Building Information Model for B III M (Building Integration Interoperability Interdisciplinary Modeling) in 2010. She is the co-editor of Building Information Modeling: BIM in Current and Future Practice (Wiley, 2014) and the author of Building Information Modeling (Routledge, 2014), which is available in English, French, and Chinese.

Currently Teaching
  • 307
    Digital Tools for Architecture
    Digital Tools for Architecture
    Building information modeling (BIM) is a digital paradigm shift, in many ways similar to that of the CAD revolution of the 1980s. What is BIM? How is it different from CAD? Why does an architecture student need to know about it? This course provides an introduction to BIM from the viewpoint of the architect (Revit Architecture), engineer (Revit Structure and Revit Mechanical), and contractor (Navisworks, Bluebeam). Depending on time, other software such as Fuzor or Stingray (BIM in a game engine), Fusion (rapid prototyping), FormIt (conceptual modeling), or Dynamo (visual programming) will be explored. Guest lecturers will speak on current digital issues facing the architecture profession. Please feel free to contact the instructor for more information.
  • 507
    Theories of Computer Technology
    Theories of Computer Technology
    Building information modeling (BIM) is one of the hottest topics in the architecture / engineering / construction profession (AEC) today. Learn what it is (3d parametric modeling), common software tools (this class concentrates primarily on Revit Architecture and some Navisworks), how it relates to sustainable design issues (Vasari and Green Building Studio), and why it is useful to the AEC industry (including being able to create awesome adaptive components!). Although offered in the School of Architecture, the techniques taught are equally applicable to others with an interest in the applications of BIM. Building science majors, structural engineering students, construction management students, and others are strongly encouraged to enroll. It is assumed that students already have a basic understanding of 2D CAD and 3D digital modeling.
  • 526
    Professional Practice Legal & Economic Context, Project Documentation
    Professional Practice Legal & Economic Context, Project Documentation
    Prerequisite(s): ARCH 302bL The laws and regulations that affect the practice of architecture and building economics and the development of comprehensive project documentation, detailing, specifications, drawing formats and organiza­tions.
  • 590
    Directed Research
    Directed Research

    (1.0 - 12.0 UNITS)

    Research leading to the master's degree. Maximum units which may be applied to the degree to be determined by the department. Graded CR/NC.

  • 692bL
    Building Science Thesis
    Building Science Thesis

    This course has several coincident agendas. We will complete the Master’s Thesis for the Building Science program which each student has developed in preceding 596 and 692a classes. But in the process, we will address a broad range of ancillary topics. We will create a “culture of learning” as part of the course. Although it is a studio course, there will be guest lecturers, lectures of assigned topics and periodic reviews, as well as normal studio time. We will review the scientific method in general and as it applies to each thesis topic. We will consider the value and impact of investigative tools in the process and product of Architecture. We will write papers which could be submitted to conferences or journals as a prototype of technology transfer (and a measure of the value and validity of the material.) Those of you who have had abstracts accepted will use the abstracts as topics for these papers. We will do several interim presentations to the first year students and to outside consultants and to committee members, prior to the final presentation. We will examine topics in Building Science which are of current interest, whether or not one of the current theses addresses these topics. We will write the thesis in several stages, so that there is opportunity to modify and improve both the research and the writing prior to the thesis due date. Prior to the due date, each student will produce a thesis in the format acceptable to the University and with content acceptable to all committee members. Finally, each student will produce a shorter version of the thesis material in a format consistent with publication. In the process, each student will learn something about the content area of each other student’s thesis.

    Prerequisite(s): ARCH 596

    View the XPO 2024 Gallery

    View the Spring 2020 Virtual Expo Gallery

Related News
Earlier this week, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) announced the recipients of its 2019-2020 Architectural Education Awards, which honors ...
Related Events
Related People