Associate professor of architecture Marc Swackhamer has been named head of the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota. He has served as the director of the University's Master ofArchitecture program since 2012 and is the co-founder of HouMinn Practice, which focuses on full-scale prototyping of lightweight, responsive, and digitally pre-fabricated construction systems. He received his B.Arch from the University of Cincinnati and his M.Arch from Rice University.
"The discipline of architecture is undergoing tremendous change," says Swackhamer. "Schools must quickly and nimbly adjust to those changes, yet remain clear and stable with regards to the disciplinary core of the profession. I envision a program that will lead the discipline through a dynamically changing landscape, while simultaneously clarifying and stabilizing the long-held skills that distinguish architecture from other fields of study."
Swackhamer is succeeding Renee Cheng, who served as head from 2004-2014, and will step down on July 1 to assume a new leadership role as associate dean for research at the College of Design. During her tenure Cheng established the nation's first and only Bachelor of Design in Architecture (BDA), and more recently the Master of Science in Research Practice (MS-RP), which aims at halving the amount of time from high school to licensure for architects--from an average of 14.5 years to 7.
"With Renee stepping down as the head of the School of Architecture, I am pleased that Marc has agreed to serve as head of the School," says College of Design dean Tom Fisher. "Professor Swackhamer's extensive expertise and national reputation in digital fabrication and in biomimetic materials also makes him a perfect choice at a time when the digital revolution has begun to transform architectural practice as well as architectural education."
Swackhamer was a chair of the 2008 National Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture Conference (ACADIA) and served on ACADIA's Board of Directors for six years. He is also an associate member of the University's Digital Design Consortium. He co-authored a book with Associate Professor Blaine Brownell called Hypernatural: Architecture's New Relationship with Nature. It will be published by Princeton Architectural Press in early 2015.
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