Digital Design Center College of Design Computer Science and Engineering



Renee Cheng Renee Cheng, AIA,
Director, Digital Design Center

Renée Cheng is Professor in the School of Architecture and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota. She has been recognized for teaching excellence with numerous teaching awards at the school, state and national level. She was one of a team of faculty from the University of Minnesota who won the 2008 AIA Education Honor Award for a transformative professional curriculum. She has been twice named to Design Intelligence’s list of 25 top educators in design and served as the Head of the School for 10 years.

Her research involves documenting case studies of buildings that integrate design with emerging technologies. Her IPD case studies used an interactive matrix to compare and contrast detailed contractual and collaborative practices used in IPD. Her recent research continues her study into collaborative practices with high performance federal buildings using performance­based contracts. Her expertise in emerging technologies in practice makes her ideal for the external liaison for the Virtual Reality Design Lab (VRDL) to explore the technology in action.

She is a graduate of Harvard’s GSD and Harvard College. A registered architect, her professional experience includes work for Pei, Cobb, Freed and Partners and Richard Meier and Partners before founding Cheng­Olson Design.

Link to Virtual Reality Design Lab


Lee Anderson Lee Anderson

With an undergraduate degree from Sophia University in Tokyo, and a M.Arch from the University of Minnesota, Lee Anderson has been developing architectural software for architectural design. His most recent program, Upfront ®, is available for the Macintosh and Windows. Professor Anderson teaches a series of courses on Computer Aided Design, as well as design studios incorporating computer techniques.

Link to Virtual Reality Design Lab


Blaine Brownell Blaine E. Brownell, AIA, LEED-AP

Blaine Brownell is an architect and former Fulbright scholar with a focus on emergent materials and applications. He is an associate professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture and principal of the design and research practice Transstudio. Brownell authored the Transmaterial series as well as the books Matter in the Floating World and Material Strategies with Princeton Architectural Press, and writes the Mind & Matter column for Architect magazine. Considered a preeminent scholar on advanced materials for architecture and design, Brownell has been published in over forty design, business, and science journals including The New York TimesThe London TimesThe Wall Street JournalNew Scientist, and Discover, and he has lectured widely in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Blaine’s latest book with co-author Marc Swackhamer is entitled Hypernatural: Architecture’s New Relationship with Nature.



Victoria Interrante Victoria Interrante

Victoria Interrante is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and an internationally recognized leader in the emerging field of Virtual Reality, where she is widely known for her pioneering research at the interface between computer science and psychology.

Dr. Interrante’s current research focuses on using insights from visual perception and cognition to guide the design and implementation of software and hardware to support more effective virtual reality experiences. She also has a strong history in the design and development of varied methods for more effectively communicating complex, multi-
dimensional information through computer­generated imagery. Her work has resulted in three awarded patents, as well as numerous peer­reviewed journal and conference papers which have been cumulatively cited over 2700 times.

Dr. Interrante is a recipient of the 1999 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, "the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers", and a 2001­2003 McKnight Land-
Grant Professorship from the University of Minnesota. In 2004, she co­founded and served as the first general co­chair of the ACM/SIGGRAPH Symposium on Applied Perception, an annual international meeting, now in its 11th year, that provides a valuable forum for the wider exchange of ideas and information between researchers in the broad fields of computer graphics/ visualization/ virtual reality and researchers in the vision sciences community.

Prof. Interrante is currently serving as co­editor­in­chief of the ACM Transactions on Applied Perception, and as the 2015 co­program­chair for the IEEE Virtual Reality Conference, the premiere international venue for the presentation of research in the broad fields of virtual and augmented reality. She is also a current member of the editorial boards of Computers & Graphics, IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications, and several other journals, and she has an extensive record of present and prior service on the international program and conference committees of the top conferences in the broad fields of computer graphics, visualization and virtual reality, including ACM SIGGRAPH, Eurographics, IEEE Visualization, IEEE Information Visualization, IEEE Virtual Reality, and many other smaller conferences and symposia.

Link to Personal Website


Dan Keefe Dan Keefe

Dan Keefe is a Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, where he directs the Interactive Visualization Lab (IV/LAB).

Dan Keefe is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota.  His research centers on scientific data visualization and interactive computer graphics.  Keefe’s recent awards include the National Science Foundation CAREER award; the University of Minnesota Guillermo E. Borja Award for research and scholarly accomplishments; the University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship; and the 3M Non-tenured Faculty Award.  He has received multiple best paper and best panel awards at top international conferences, such as IEEE VIS and ACM Interactive 3D Graphics. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative, and industry sponsors.  In addition to his work in computer science, Keefe is also an accomplished artist and has published and exhibited work in top international venues for digital art.  Before joining the University of Minnesota, Keefe did post-doctoral work at Brown University jointly with the departments of Computer Science and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and with the Rhode Island School of Design.  He received the Ph.D. in 2007 from Brown University’s Department of Computer Science and the B.S. in Computer Engineering summa cum laude from Tufts University in 1999.

Link to IV Lab


Gary Meyer Gary meyer

Gary Meyer’s computer graphics research emphasizes color appearance design techniques and color synthesis algorithms. He takes advantage of the human color vision system to develop computer aided design tools for color appearance professionals and to improve the efficiency and realism of synthetic image generation techniques. Meyer is developing software that lets designers and color technologists have the same interactive control over color appearance that engineers have had over geometry since the beginning of computer graphics almost forty years ago. Computer aided color appearance design (CACAD) allows color appearance designers and scientists to examine how existing paints and coatings look on new products. More importantly, CACAD makes it possible to hypothesize and visualize new surface coatings with heretofore unseen reflection properties. Much of Meyer’s work in realistic image synthesis is centered on replacing the explicit simulation of a camera with an imaging technique that incorporates more of what is known about the human visual system. In this way he hopes to avoid some of the artifacts inherent in photographic techniques and to develop a more device independent representation for color. Professor Meyer is also advancing the state of the art in synthetic image generation by simulating the mechanisms in nature (such as refraction, scattering, and interference) that determine color.


Marc Swackhamer Marc Swackhamer

Marc Swackhamer received a B. Arch from the University of Cincinnati and an M. Arch from Rice University. His research explores the relationship between performance and ornament through the lens of digital representation and fabrication. His design firm, HouMinn Practice, a partnership with Professor Blair Satterfield from the University of British Columbia, challenges in-place techniques of construction and material production. HouMinn won a 2014 Architect Magazine R+D Award and a 2014 Core77 Design Award for this work. In addition to core design courses, Professor Swackhamer teaches on the topic of “hypernatural” design. Student work from this effort won a 2007 AIA COTE (Committee on the Environment) national education award and was a finalist in the "Biomimicry Student Design Challenge," sponsored by the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute in 2013. With Professor Blaine Brownell, he co-authored the book Hypernatural: Architecture’s New Relationship with Nature in 2015. Professor Swackhamer is an Associate Professor and the Head of the School of Architecture.


Link to HouMinn


Digital Design Center
Rapson Hall - Room 145
89 Church Street
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Main Reception Desk: 612-624-7866
fax: 612-624-5743