Marianne Desmarais, LEED AP BD+C

Director, Undergraduate Architecture Program, Professor of Practice - Architecture
Master of Architecture, Cranbrook Academy; Bachelor of Architecture, Tulane University
Office Hours:

Mondays 10:15am-11:15am

Research and Teaching Interests:

Materiality, Mutability, Drawing, Sculpture


ARCH 1011 & 1200 - First Year Design Studio


Marianne Desmarais has lived and worked in New Orleans since 1990. Trained and working as an architect, she holds masters degrees from both Tulane School of Architecture and Cranbrook Academy of Art and has studied abroad at the Edinburgh College of Art. Through parallel practices in architecture and art, productive cross-pollination shapes the work between disciplines. These dual practices are most evident through material explorations across media and scale. Utilizing manual and digital modes of production simultaneously within the work allows for the nature of transitory moments to be plumbed as a theme of structural response. Techniques from architectural design and fabrication are often applied in her art work to effect space through manipulation of optics and surface. Direct use of geometry provides a datum across which these shifts become apparent. Explicit material characteristics are deployed as devices of amplification paired with a sensibility for crossing boundaries within all bodies of work. Recent shows include Transpositions, a solo show at Staple Goods Gallery, as well as group shows at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Antenna Gallery, and the Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans. Her collaborative work with fiber artist Liz Sargent is on permanent display at the SCAD galleries in Shanghai, China after their award of the New Works Residency from the Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada. With artist Sarah Kabot, she has installed a large scale public art work for the Westin Downtown, Cleveland, Ohio. In Louisiana, she is represented by Cole Pratt Gallery.


Approach, as a noun, has been defined as a way of dealing with something, or a way of acting. More useful might be the definition of approach as a verb, to come nearer and nearer to something distant, to move toward. In this way, an approach is non-determinant of process, form, or content, but rather describes a mode of action which employs careful navigation and studied movements. Of particular interest is an approach which relates explicitly to contextual circumstances. This is an investigation of sited-ness, of pursuing physical manifestation through the lenses of positional relationships. Specificity of design intent is a direct outcome of the evaluation of the local, specific characteristics and their relevance to broader, abstract considerations. This might be described as seeing or reading place. The site of a proposition is the leading partner in the design process - it provides narrative, boundary, and situation. The act of drawing becomes the central device or studied movement of this approach. Drawing allows one the time to fully see/think the subject. Drawing is the primary tool of thinking/investigating/translating. As a medium, it links memory - experience - future place. Drawing, as a mode of thinking transitions elements of the design process from a subjective impulse to objectified content. Drawings have the potential to transition to dimensional form and shape space. In this way, an idea can result in physical manifestation within the built environment. Rendering a thought in physical form requires a focus on characteristic(s), scale, density, proximity, composition, and gravity; all of which contribute to making an assemblage that is meaningful and relevant. These collective phenomena which impact experience render the poetic. By shaping space in this way there is potential to transgress normative boundaries and produce meaning.



Marianne Desmarais, LEED AP BD+C

Director, Undergraduate Architecture Program, Professor of Practice - Architecture
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