I compiled it in Visual Studio 2005 without any major issues. The pbrt folder needed to be located at C:/pbrt which I didn't realize initially, but once I put it there and edited the paths as noted in PBRTInfo everything compiled without errors. I encountered random crashes with the release configuration that was included with the build file. These crashes didn't happen with the debug config, so I made a copy of the debug config and enabled /O2 and stuff like that because I didn't feel like tracking down the issue with the included config. It worked fine after that.
The images rendered in ~ 1 sec at 150x150 with 1 sample and no subdivision, so no additional optimization was really required. However, it was surprising how much slower it was at 400x400 with 4 samples and level 3 subdivision - it took ~30 seconds. I can see how in the future this may require more involved optimizations.
I just played around with some of the various parameters that PBRT lets you edit.
Here's a head with a 3d checkerboard texture applied and the aperture of the camera set at 0.1 so that there's a shallow DOF. The shadow in the background is a hard shadow - but it's blurred due to the camera.
Here's a head with the 'shinymetal' material applied. Sort of creepy.