Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

ORCID 0000-0002-3168-8608

Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



In the face of global climate change, all disciplines and backgrounds have a responsibility to the shared future. The world is facing an impending environmental disaster and humanity’s current efforts are not enough to slow this change, let alone reverse it. Much more drastic efforts must be undertaken by every person and discipline. Architecture has both aesthetic and structural components that have contributed to this situation. Much like the rest of the world, the current practices of architecture are not responsive or responsible enough. The building sector has a unique role in national and global energy consumption. Not only are the structures that are created by these assorted professions responsible for consuming large amounts of annual energy, but the very materials used in their construction add millions of tons of waste to landfills each year. The building sector should not just be responsible for the long-term effects of a structure during the construction and demolition phases. Architecture’s and other design professions’ responsibilities should not end with the completion of a project. Rather, all of the choices, designs, and decisions made before, during, and after the project will echo through the ages as the structure lives on, long after the building has been occupied.

There are many possible solutions to this conundrum, ranging from passive techniques to complex technologies. The incorporation of biological design into modern construction is explored in this thesis. This paper investigates the implications of current building materials in comparison to the potential of an organically informed alternative created from mycelium, the root network of fungi, and post-industrial waste. This thesis considers laboratory experiments and case studies in architecture to understand the shortcomings and potentials of organically derived structures and building materials. Original observations are undertaken to understand the effect of a mycelium composite’s design on various physical properties. This project seeks to evaluate the building blocks of architecture and reevaluate the building field from the ground up. Small individual components are assessed, and their long-term implications are explored.


First Advisor

Ray Mann

Included in

Architecture Commons