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Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies faculty and students earned rave reviews as they showed off their work on FutureHAUS – a revolutionary prototype for the future of smart, sustainable housing – at the world’s largest kitchen and bath industry expo last week.

“How do I get a home like this?” and “This is incredible!” were just a few of the reactions from the more than 40,000 visitors touring Virginia Tech‘s booth at KBIS, a three-day international trade show in Orlando.

The FutureHAUS exhibit drew over 40,000 visitors.

Smart audiovisual walls in the home projected lounge music as students and faculty members demonstrated its futuristic features. The highlights included adaptable “flex space” rooms that expand or contract by moving walls and furnishings; a “Jetsons”-style automated closet with a smart mirror touchscreen for wardrobe management; and a high-performance exterior window wall that intuitively adjusts shading, privacy, and insulation for energy efficiency and comfort.

KBIS, held January 10–12 in conjunction with the International Builders Show and Design and Construction Week, attracted an estimated 110,000 attendees and 2,000 exhibitors to Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.

The FutureHAUS team traveled there to debut the Bedroom and Home Office of the Future, the final phase of a three-year research project partnering faculty and students with industry leaders to push the envelope in high-tech, responsive home design.

Students Laurie Booth and Elyse Smith explain the smart home’s controls.

“This has been the experience of a lifetime,” said Laurie Booth, a second-year interior design student from Charlotte, North Carolina. “The FutureHAUS faculty treat us like we’re part of a firm and this is a job, which has enabled me to learn so much. I’ve worked on renderings, finishing options, virtual reality models, construction, and also with our partner companies like California Closets. It’s made me more interested in housing and how we can live in more smart, compact ways that are better for our health and environment.”

FutureHAUS merges advanced technologies, modular “cartridge” construction, transformable rooms, and sleek design into practical, user-friendly living spaces. Its concepts have won sponsorship from industry leading companies such as California Closets and DuPont and garnered attention from media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Architect.

The FutureHAUS home office converts to a guest bedroom with a simple voice command.

Like the three prior phases of FutureHAUS – the kitchen, bath, and living room – the bedroom and home office show how digital technologies, cutting-edge products, and smart space design can make homes more responsive to occupants, using a refined modular style of building. Among the features are flex space – adaptable rooms that can transform according to occupants’ space needs and activities; an audiovisual wall that rotates to share art, entertainment, and technology between adjoining rooms; and a master bedroom with a multimedia canopy offering ambient scenes for a good night’s sleep.

The FutureHAUS team employs an innovative style of building – prefabricating walls and rooms as “plug-and-play” cartridges. The process, refined from the manufacturing assembly line, allows for seamless incorporation of advanced technologies and home systems in controlled, factory setting, and easy integration at the construction site.

Project leader Joseph Wheeler, professor of architecture and co-director of the Center for Design Research, plans to build a two-story FutureHAUS in a nearby research complex. The main floor demonstration facility would connect all four phases into one integrated smart home. On the second floor, a research and development lab would enable Virginia Tech and industry partners to continue inventing the future of housing.

The FutureHAUS bedroom’s multimedia canopy screen projects everything from TV and Internet to ambient lighting and user-responsive sleep scenes.

Wheeler and the team now set their sights on the Solar Decathlon Middle East in 2018, with hopes of repeating their 2010 victory in the international solar home competition.

“Virginia Tech’s FutureHAUS research isn’t just some cool, futuristic concept,” Wheeler said. “We’re proving that it’s a practical, easy-to-implement model for efficient design and building that could revolutionize the construction industry and make housing more accessible to people of all walks of life, everywhere.”

Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the Center for Design Research wish to thank the sponsors and partners who make the FutureHAUS possible: California Closets, DuPont, B&M Sheet Metal, Blum, Corning, Columbia Forest Products, Dr. Shrink, Element Designs, Glass Dynamics, Häfele America, Interlam, KB Home, Kollmorgen, Linak Actuators, Moving Murals, Murus, Philips Color Kinetics, Pilkington Glass, Plain & Fancy, Shaw, Sketchup, SnapCab, Sugatsune, Tempur-Pedic, Thomson Industries, View Glass, Weyerhaeuser, Whirlpool, the Virginia Tech College of Engineering, Department of Computer Science, Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology, and the Macromolecules Innovations Institute.

Visit www.futurehaus.tech for more information and a press kit with downloadable files.

By Marya Barlow, mbarlow@vt.edu

Virginia Tech will unveil the final phase of FutureHAUS – the revolutionary prototype for the home of the future – with the bedroom and home office at the world’s largest kitchen and bath industry expo, KBIS, January 10 through 12 in Orlando.

Virginia Tech’s FutureHAUS team with the bedroom and home office prototype at KBIS.

Like the three previous prototypes for the kitchen, bath, and living room, the latest phase of FutureHAUS offers a stunning preview of how digital technologies, cutting-edge products, and smart building design will unite to make our bedrooms and home offices more responsive to our future needs and way of living.

Virginia Tech’s student-faculty research team has created rooms that demonstrate how advanced technologies and appliances can be seamlessly integrated in our homes using a modular style of building. The team is led by Joseph Wheeler, professor in the School of Architecture + Design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and co-director of the Center for Design Research, and Denis Gracanin, associate professor in the College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science. The prototype features products from over 25 industry partners, including lead sponsor California Closets®, which provided design expertise to maximize function and aesthetics.

The FutureHAUS mixed reality home office.

“With the fourth and final phase of FutureHAUS, Virginia Tech and our industry partners are showing how smart design and technology can solve universal challenges in home building to make homes of the future more efficient, sustainable, and affordable,” Wheeler said. “The concepts modeled in FutureHAUS can be used to build homes that intuitively respond to the needs of everyone from millennials and centennials to the aging and housebound – allowing people to live better and more sustainably.”

A murphy bed behind the computer wall instantly converts the office into a guest bedroom.

Highlights of the FutureHAUS final phase include:

Flex Space

With flex space, you can have less square footage but still have all the space you need, as well as a home offering cost and energy savings. Movable walls enable occupants to adjust living spaces for different activities and times of day. The closet conveniently expands to include a sitting room, dressing room, and laundry room, or contracts to create extra space in the bedroom or office. If an extra guest bedroom is needed, the office wall converts into a Murphy bed with a simple gesture or voice command.

The smart closet showcases wardrobe options on a touchscreen and delivers items on demand. It can expand to a full dressing room or contract to hide the laundry and shelving.

Smart Closet and Wardrobe

A smart mirror touchscreen enables users to quickly find and select items in their wardrobe to be delivered on demand. The dressing room wardrobe has self-opening drawers and an automated closet clothing carousel. Tiny RFID (radio frequency identification) tags in the clothes enable the smart closet and wardrobe to scan and locate items – ensuring you’ll never lose a sock again. Need to know what’s in the laundry? Simply call it up on the smart mirror screen. Custom designed by California Closets, these areas strategically optimize space for enhanced functionality.

Smart Window Wall

The high-performance exterior wall developed with DuPont makes intuitive adjustments throughout the day for energy efficiency and interior comfort. Featuring tintable glass, phase-change technology, and a rainscreen, the smart window wall automatically regulates shading, privacy, and insulation.


The laundry room can be easily hidden or exposed by moving the closet space — a convenient feature for minimizing noise and keeping the laundry out of sight. Additional accessories, such as a folding station and ironing board, enhance the function of the space, but tuck away when not in use.

The FutureHAUS bedroom offers an adjustable Tempur-Pedic bed and a canopy screen with endless entertainment options.


In the FutureHAUS bedroom, comfort and utility unite for the ultimate sleep experience. With a voice command, users can change the height and position of their Tempur-Pedic bed, adjust the temperature, sound system, or LED lighting. Above the bed, an overhead canopy screen projects television programs and movies, or soothing sleep scenes like ocean waves, thanks to a projector hidden behind the headboard.

Mixed-Reality Home Office

Telecommuters will enjoy the comforts of home while maintaining a full presence in the workplace with the FutureHAUS home office. The mixed-reality workspace features Microsoft’s HoloLens headset and integrated cameras, blending the virtual and real world. Telecommuters can incorporate 3-D holograms in their visible surroundings to collaborate and create with colleagues anywhere. An adjustable desk on the wall automatically raises and lowers to accommodate ergonomic sitting or standing work positions, and recalls user settings.

The audiovisual wall swivels 180 degrees, allowing technology, entertainment, and art to be shared by adjoining rooms.

Audiovisual Wall

The office audiovisual wall, developed with KB Home, Hanley Wood, Corning, and SnapCab, models endless possibilities for incorporating art, ambience, flex space, and technology. This versatile wall, shared between the office and living room, spins 180 degrees to accommodate the needs of either room. Covered with Corning’s Gorilla Glass, the wall functions as a speaker, television, computer screen, videoconferencing monitor, and dry-erase board on one side. The other side displays scenic photography back-printed on the glass. With technology neatly embedded in walls throughout the home, there’s no visual blight from unsightly electrical cords.

FutureHAUS employs a cartridge construction process, embedding rooms and walls with advanced technology and home systems in a controlled factory setting, to be delivered as plug-and-play components to the constructions site.

Cartridge construction

By prefabricating kitchens, bathrooms, audiovisual walls and other home components, Virginia Tech is reinventing the process of conventional construction. Cartridges are built in a factory environment – similar to the way we build automobiles and airplanes – in ideal conditions for incorporating complex systems. The manufacturing process yields many benefits, including better quality control in an efficient design, faster construction times, guaranteed delivery dates, and construction safety. Cost certainty and high-tech plug-and-play components make an ideal fit for the smart home.

What’s next?
With the addition of the bedroom and home office cartridges, Virginia Tech has completed the full suite of FutureHAUS components. The team plans to erect a four-story FutureHAUS prototype at the university’s Corporate Research Center to serve as a teaching, learning, and demonstration model for the future of smart, sustainable, cartridge-built housing.

The team envisions a multi-story FutureHAUS teaching, learning, demonstration, research and development facility at Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Center.

About KBIS

Virginia Tech’s FutureHAUS Bedroom and Home Office is one of four signature KBISNeXT™ Experience sites, which give participants a unique hands-on interaction with the industry’s latest trends and insights. The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show runs jointly with the International Builder’s Show – bringing over 110,000 participants to the Orange County Convention Center for three days of industry-leading products and programs.

About FutureHAUS and Virginia Tech

Uniting the best of research, academia, and industry partners, FutureHAUS demonstrates what the future of housing will be in our fast-evolving digital age. The project has earned international media acclaim and industry awards for its research to make homes more technologically advanced, user-friendly, accessible, adaptable, affordable, energy-efficient, and sustainable.

The team is also led by Clive Vorster, visiting professor of architecture in the School of Architecture + Design, and project manager Bobby Vance, a master’s student in the School of Architecture + Design. Twelve students worked in an interdisciplinary class to research and build the final phase of FutureHAUS and will be in Orlando to showcase their work. Meet the team at http://futurehaus.tech/team/.

Visit FutureHAUS at KBIS Booth S5880. Follow Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies on Facebook or Twitter @VTCAUS. Join the conversation at #vtfuturehaus. For a full list of sponsors, media kit, and more information, visit futurehaus.tech.

Media contact: Marya Barlow, mbarlow@vt.edu


Anne Khademian, professor and director of the Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, has been elected to the board of directors at the National Academy of Public Administration. She will serve a three-year term.

An independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan organization, the academy was established by the U.S. Congress in 1967 to assist government leaders in building more-effective, efficient, accountable, and transparent organizations.

It provides a full range of advisory services to federal departments and agencies with a particular focus on organizational assessments/strategy development; implementation support and technical assistance; performance measurement systems; and stakeholder outreach/collaboration.

The academy’s unique feature is its more than 800 Fellows, including former cabinet officers, congressional members, and governors, as well as prominent scholars, business executives, and public administrators. Fellows have a deep understanding of financial management, human resources, technology, and administrative functions at all levels of government, and they direct most of academy’s studies.

Khademian, who is based in the National Capital Region, was named a Fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration in 2009. Directors are elected from among the Fellows.

Khademian’s research interests focus on leadership and organizational culture, inclusive management, policy networks, and the work of organizations involved in homeland security and financial regulation.

She is the author of numerous articles on public management and public policy and the books “Working with Culture: The Way the Job Gets Done in Public Programs” (CQ Press, 2002); “Checking on Banks: Autonomy and Accountability in Three Federal Agencies” (Brookings, 1996); and “The SEC and Capital Market Regulation: The Politics of Expertise” (University of Pittsburgh Press 1992).

She was a research Fellow at the Brookings Institution before teaching at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; the University of Michigan; and the University of Pennsylvania. She joined Virginia Tech in 2003. She is a member of several editorial boards for public administration and policy journals and has served as a co-editor for the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.

Khademian holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in political science from Washington University in St. Louis.

Jade McNair doesn’t graduate until December 2017, but she’s already entertaining job offers from employers eager to attract a Virginia Tech Myers-Lawson School of Construction graduate.

“It’s overwhelming in a good way,” said the building construction major from Columbia, South Carolina. “Instead of competing for a job, it’s like the job market is competing for me.”

That’s exactly what the school’s founding donors and namesakes, A. Ross Myers and John R. Lawson II, envisioned when they helped start the school in 2006. A decade later, their names are synonymous not only with two prominent construction companies, but also with the success of over 600 Virginia Tech Myers-Lawson School of Construction graduates now leading the way in the construction industry.

“It’s literally a dream come true for me,” said Ross Myers, chairman and CEO of Allan Myers Inc. and a 1972 graduate of Virginia Tech’s civil engineering program. “Our vision was to be a beacon of excellence in the construction industry and in the education community. This school, its faculty, staff, and students are fulfilling that vision and carrying it forward in the best way possible.”

Over the past decade, the school has increased enrollment 75 percent, tripled female graduation rates, and consistently boasted a 100 percent employment rate for students prior to graduation. It has also forged strong industry ties, launching partnerships, internships, and career fairs that connect students with some of construction’s biggest names. Through collaborations with W.M. Jordan and Hourigan Construction, for example, students have honed skills in virtual construction and 4-D building information modeling on real-world building projects. The school’s recent fall career fair attracted over 100 companies from across the nation to meet and interview over 500 students.

“The demand for our students is just incredible,” said Lawson, president and CEO of W.M. Jordan Company Inc., a 1975 geophysics graduate of Virginia Tech’s College of Science, and a major employer of Virginia Tech graduates himself. “When you’re placing 100 percent of the graduating students, who have multiple offers, that is the truest indicator of success, in my opinion.”

The school arose from a 2006 joint venture between the Department of Building Construction in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program in the College of Engineering’s Charles E. Via, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Students benefit from integrated engineering and construction curriculum, faculty, research, and industry partnerships. They leave with a broad understanding of the business, technology, construction and production management skills needed to lead and thrive on today’s job sites. Before graduation, most students complete an average of three internships, many of which lead to jobs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction industry jobs will grow 10 percent to 7.2 million jobs by 2024 – faster than the average for all occupations. The growth is fueled by a rising population – creating new demand for infrastructure that integrates emerging technologies into buildings, roads, and other human environments.

Looking ahead to the next 10 years, Myers-Lawson School Director Brian Kleiner said, “Our vision to be a beacon of excellence means we will strive to anticipate and deliver whatever the industry is going to require in the future, and be the best for our students, sponsors, and employers. Currently, we are emphasizing human-centered intelligent infrastructure.”

A fundraising campaign is underway to build an Intelligent Infrastructure and Construction Complex and also enable the expansion of Myers-Lawson, among other projects. A $5 million commitment from the Hitt Family has laid the foundation for the work to commence.

“In our school’s first 10 years, Myers-Lawson students made the construction industry stand up and take notice,” Kleiner said. “In the next 10 years, our students will be at the forefront of leading the global effort to advance and revolutionize the industry.”