Architecture Lab

Site Plan, Chinchero, Peru (Stella Nair)

Architecture Lab: Fowler Building, Room A332
Faculty Director: Stella Nair
Lab Coordinators: Alex Casteel and Sarah Ortiz-Monasterio
Graduate Students: Alex CasteelGeorgi KyorlenskiSarah Ortiz-Monasterio, Alba Menendez Pereda, Rachel SchlossWendan Wang
Research Affiliates: Paul Burtenshaw, AJ Meyer

Undergraduate theses

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Mailing address:
Cotsen Institute of Archaeology
308 Charles E Young Dr N
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Phone (Cotsen Main office): 310-206-8934

Northeast Facade Temple of Kukulkán, Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, México. Photograph by Sarah Ortiz Monasterio.
Architectural Model

Architectural model. Mexico, Guerrero, Mezcala, 500 BCE–1000 CE. Gift of Constance McCormick Fearing (M.83.217.18), LACMA.
Longhouse, Iceland

Longhouse, Iceland. Photo credit: Mosfell Archaeological Project

Tenochtitlan Calmecac (institution for religious learning)

Tenochtitlan Calmecac (institution for religious learning), late 15th to early 16th century. Photograph by Anthony Meyer.

The Architecture Lab is directed by Stella Nair, Associate Professor of Indigenous Arts of the Americas in the Department of Art History. Nair was trained as an architect and architectural historian, and she specializes in the study of materials, construction technology, and spatial practices. 

Metal Tools for flattening a stone (Stella Nair)

The focus of the lab is on architectural design, construction, materials, acoustics, ecology, and conservation. Graduate and undergraduate students and affiliated scholars conduct research in the facilities. Current projects include Contemporary Indigenous Mexican architecture, Mexica (Aztec) educational and ritual spaces, Inca soundscapes, adobe construction in the medieval Mediterranean, Icelandic Longhouses, the architecture of the Inca Civil War, and community focused conservation projects. 

Architecture Working Group

Also housed in the Architecture Lab, the Architecture Working Group brings together faculty and doctoral students from across campus and beyond who are working on Architectural history topics, ranging from design and construction studies, to larger critiques of the built environment across time and space. The group meets for lecture presentations, informal discussions, shared readings, and workshops. For more information on past lectures and events organized by the working group, see this linkDoctoral students interested in participating should contact Alex Casteel (Archaeology) and Sarah Ortiz-Monasterio (Art History) for further information.

Collaboration with the Digital Lab

The Architecture Laboratory works closely with UCLA’s Digital Archaeology Lab and the Digital Research Consortium to share resources as well as facilitate and coordinate architectural research for members of the Cotsen community.


The Architecture Lab offers workshops on relevant topics.

Events include:

  1. Workshop on the botanicals used in Indigenous and African Diasporic architecture (part of “The Forgotten Canopy" series)
  2. Workshop on Tongva and Choctaw architecture and ecology (part of “the Forgotten Canopy” series)
  3. Workshop on Chumash architecture and sea craft (part of “The Forgotten Canopy series)
  4. "Digital Sketches: Creating Qualitative, Humanistic Maps & Visualizations in Inkscape," led by Dr. Jeremy Mikecz, Dartmouth College 

  5. The Architecture Lab collaborated with the Scholarly Innovation Lab (YRL) for a two part workshop on Architectural Drawings: A) Vectorworks B) Advanced Drawing in the Field

  6.  The Architecture Lab teamed up with the Institute for Digital Research and Education and the Digital Archaeology Lab to offer a 2-day workshop on ArcGIS for Archaeologists (Day 1 and Day 2 along with a 3D component).


Casa de los Cuatro Bustos, Cuzco

Casa de los Cuatro Bustos, Cuzco, Photograph by Alba Menéndez Pereda

Kanaraqay, Peru panorama

Kañaraqay, Peru (Georgi Kyorlenski)

In the News

The western wall of the Imperial City of the Shangjing
The western wall of the Imperial City of the Shangjing (Upper Capital) City Site of the Liao Dynasty, Inner Mongolia, China. Photograph by Wendan Wang.