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PLAIN is a design-build collective that constructs ordinary buildings from engineered lumber. It presents the pedagogy of “design-build” teaching as a means to challenge student’s expectations of the nature of architectural work.


Current Projects

Immersion 2017 – Taliesin Wisconsin

Emerge 2018 – Bauman Tree Farm Oregon

The Baxa Cabin – Ogallala Nebraska

South Sioux Orchard Facility Nebraska


PLAIN is based in the College of Architecture at UNL and provides architecture for non-profit organizations in the Midwest. It is a form of architectural education that applies the craft aphorism of “learning by doing” to the construction of simple building typologies.

PLAIN explores automated production of mass timber buildings as part of the historical narrative of standardized lumber in North America. It suggests that craft principle of “tacit knowledge” in architecture is connected to new making methodologies of engineered lumber with particular emphasis on cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction.

PLAIN TALK- (THE OBJECT AS CRITIC). It applies the literary form of “free indirect discourse” to architectural inquiry by placing the object as the pre-eminent critic in the learning process. It adopts the anonymity of ordinary buildings as a starting point for all projects. Ubiquitous forms provide a method of avoiding prior authorship of any team member. Formal anonymity allows participants to establish individual expression within the larger network of the building team. It provides a collaborative framework adopted from Bauhaus Vorkurs

PLAIN ORDINARY includes the discourse of ‘the ordinary’ within architecture. It studies everyday building typologies such as sheds, cabins, industrial structures, barns and suburban houses. Authorship of each project is drawn from down-to-earth scenarios of the immediate context and the archetypal forms of the Midwestern landscape.

PLAIN avoids aestheticizing ordinary experience and adopts popular forms without the disclaimer of irony.

PLAIN RESEACH. PLAIN is funded by the USDA U.S. Forest Service Wood Innovations 2017 award. This grant is titled “Great Plains CLT Market Development through Architectural Education” and funds both student’s and practicing architect’s experience with CLT and mass timber construction.