NewSchool of Architecture + Design

NewSchool of Architecture + Design

San Diego, CA


Erik Luhtala joins NewSchool of Architecture and Design as Materials Lab Manager

By NewSchoolSanDiego
Dec 21, '11 5:26 PM EST

Media Contact:
Anna Cearley
Tel. 1-619-684-8791
Cell. 1-619-301-3701

San Diego—Dec. 21, 2011—The NewSchool of Architecture and Design (NSAD) has named Erik Luhtala as the school’s new Materials Lab manager. The lab, previously called the Model Shop, is where students can use a variety of materials and machines to create physical models that demonstrate their architecture and design concepts. Luhtala is expected to broaden the lab’s role as a center of instruction and research.

Luhtala comes to NSAD from the University of Arizona where he worked as a laboratory coordinator and earned his Bachelor of Architecture. Among the skills he brings to the lab are extensive 3-D modeling and fabrication techniques. While at the University of Arizona, Luhtala received a faculty commendation and an American Institute of Architects Design Excellence Award. As a laboratory coordinator, he developed a reputation for innovation, creativity and technological knowledge.

For the next phase at the NSAD Materials Lab, Luhtala envisions integrating new technologies that support student modeling initiatives. He also will promote students work on research-based papers on the work being done at the lab, he said.

“Architecture and design education is very didactic, very hands on. It’s often what attracts the people who are here. They are creative people who like to produce new things,” Luhtala said. “This is a chance for them to do so on a regular basis and provide examples to prospective students of what they could be doing here.”

The Materials Lab comprises a woodworking facility, a metal shop and the expanding digital facility. The digital facility currently houses two industrial computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines that utilize both lasers and high-speed milling technology to produce precision output on a large scale as well as two smaller-format cabinet laser cutters for more intricate work. The lab also includes a digital light processing photopolymer 3-D printer for the fabrication of highly complex 3-D geometries.
“The highly-regarded NSAD Materials Lab is where our students’ ideas take form,” said NSAD President Steve Altman. “The lab provides students with opportunities to communicate their concepts and plans.  With Erik Luhtala’s leadership, it will also serve as an integral and active research hub that advances our students’ preparation as designers and constructors.”

Some examples of projects produced in the lab include tablet cases built out of solid Zebrano wood, a thesis project that required the development of metallic movable joints and panels, and the adaptive reuse of cargo containers as part of the Periscope Project. The latter involved collaboration between a group of local architects and architecture students to create a cooperative studio, which includes exhibition and educational space in downtown San Diego.

About the NewSchool of Architecture and Design

NewSchool of Architecture and Design (NSAD), founded in 1980, is located in San Diego, California. NSAD is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). ACICS is listed as a nationally recognized accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. NSAD’s Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Architecture and Executive Master of Architecture programs are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). NSAD also offers a pre-professional Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, a Bachelor of Science in Digital Media Arts, a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management, a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, a Master of Landscape Architecture, a Master of Construction Management and a Master of Science in Architecture. For more information, visit