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Lola Ben-Alon

Lola Ben-Alon is an Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP, where she directs the Natural Materials Lab and the Building Tech curriculum. She specializes in socially and environmentally sustainable building materials, construction practices, and engineering-architecture collaborations.

Her current work focuses on natural earth- and bio-based building materials, their manual and digital fabrication, life cycle, supply chains, and policy. She uses quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate the embodied and operational impacts of low-carbon assemblies such as cob, rammed earth, and light straw clay.

Ben-Alon is particularly passionate about fostering connections between academia and local communities by using participatory design and social hands-on engagement in the production of the built environment. Through sharing skills and knowledge that promote healthy and affordable living environments, Ben-Alon hopes to diversify the building industry and catalyze new intersections and creative dialogues among the various disciplines of architecture, engineering, art, and sociology.

Ben-Alon received her Ph.D. from the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, where she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics. She holds a B.S. in Structural Engineering and M.S. in Construction Management from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. At the Technion, Ben-Alon also earned a diploma in Critical and Curatorial Studies, where she co-founded art.espionage, the Experimental Art and Architecture Lab. Previously, she served as a curator and content developer at the Madatech, Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space. Ben-Alon also received $20.000 to fund her teaching through the HP Campus of the Future: Emerging Technology Grant for Teaching and Learning Projects.

Her work was published in Building and Environment, Journal of Green Building, Woodhead Publishing Series in Civil and Structural Engineering, and Automation in Construction. She serves on the board of ACSA’s Technology | Architecture + Design, and Elsevier’s Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.

GSAPP Conversations:
Natural Materials Mini Series with Lola Ben-Alon

Over the Fall 2020 semester, Assistant Professor Lola Ben-Alon hosted a mini-series on natural and living building materials as part of the GSAPP Conversations podcast. The Natural Materials mini-series consists of conversations with designers, builders, and product developers of clay, bamboo, fibers, and bacterial concrete. Natural materials are defined as minimally processed, readily available, nontoxic, healthy, and engaging materials. They are critically needed to reduce carbon emissions and extractive harmful impact associated with conventional building materials.

Tech Talks

Tech Talks is a new lecture series hosted by the Building Tech Sequence focusing on the implications of materials, cities, and ethics. The Spring 2021 speaker line-up includes:


Course Semester Title Student Work Instructor Syllabus Requirements & Sequence Location & Time Session & Points Call No.
A4111‑1 Fall 2023
Tech I, Environments in Architecture
Lola Ben-Alon
114 AVERY 
TU 9 AM - 12 PM
3 Points
A4115‑1 Spring 2023
TECH V Construction and Life Cycle Systems
Bt ben alon erisanakamura rebeccasiqueiros juliavais sp23 01 sm
Lola Ben-Alon
113 AVERY + 200 B, 300 B N, 505 AVERY, 323M FAY
TU 1:30 - 4:00
3 Points
A6913‑1 Spring 2023
Making with Earth: Digital and Manual Craft of Natural Materials in Buildings
Lola Ben-Alon
M 11 AM - 1 PM
3 Points