Ian MacPherson

Ian MacPherson

Morristown, NJ, US

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Aspiring architect engaging a lifelong passion for the built, made, and curated environment.

Hello, I am a 4th year graduating from the University of Virginia in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture and a minor in Architectural History. I study physically and chronologically layered material culture in order to understand how where we are makes us who we are.

I first came to the idea of place identity because my mother, as an immigrant, kept her country of origin alive by assembling a full picture of Colombia as a place— spatially, geographically,  climatically, and constructionally— and how she and her family navigated it socially, religiously, and politically. My family’s oral history tradition gave me the tools to assemble an architectural worldview to explore through practice.

My study of place identity began at UVA’s Fralin Museum my first year summer. Communicating multifaceted cultural narratives about artists reframed for me how places of origin and  immersion alike define us. At the UVA Architecture Robotics Research Group, I developed hard skills manipulating magnetic resin underwater and 3D printing ceramic objects in clay, and realized I needed to find a bridge between my humanistic and material explorations.

Then I was afforded the unbelievable opportunity to learn how to be an archaeologist— on the job. Living and working in Attica, Greece, I gained an understanding of the geographic and climatic conditions that shaped Greece’s unique historical arc, encountered a brand new spatial system and palette of natural materials, and found the vital link between my parallel pursuits of place and materials through mapping and data visualization.

This academic year, I immersed myself in the study of landscapes, creating a critique of the Surveillance State through a speculative reading of Berlin, and will be centering sustainability and cultural landscapes in my thesis, intern work experience, and research position.

I believe that the job of the architect, or of any other designer of the built realm, is to craft public and private spaces that bolster communities, and to unite people through the experience of place.

Design thinker, poet, bookworm, musician. Fascinated by physically layered material histories, aesthetics and ethics, and global stories. 



High Atlas Foundation (HAF), Marrakech, Morocco, Sustainable Development intern + Cultural Heritage Specialist

HAF supports local communities in Morocco in achieving their priority development projects, primarily in agriculture, education and health. I study, explain and visualize Land Rights Law for the Legal Aid Clinic at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University (USMBA) in Fez, and conduct a research project investigating the compatibility between Islam and participatory design practice. Finally, I am helping to write a $3 million USAID grant proposal to fund the restoration of a network of interfaith religious sites across Morocco.

Feb 2021 - current

Landscape Architecture Department, UVa School of Architecture, Charlottesville, Research Assistant

Project Manager Allison James, Co-Director Elizabeth K. Meyer, FASLA
As a member of the Landscape Studies Initiative team, I contribute to the development of the LSI ISLAND platform, a global atlas tool seeking to aggregate academic, industry and community driven research into one information ecosystem. I create metadata tags for images, maps and plans to expand the LSI database, conduct archival research on cultural landscapes, and support the Center for Cultural Landscapes' myriad projects.

Feb 2021 - current

1 Design Lab, Tokyo, JP, Winter Extern - Design Director

Working from the eastern standard timezone, I saw a competition entry through from concept to submission, preparing drawings while directing a small studio team of illustrators based in Hangzhou, China. Shadowing firm leadership, I learned about organizational structure and research-oriented practice.

Jan 2021 - Jan 2021

General Architecture Collaborative, Kigali, RW, Digital Fabrication Researcher

(remote) Charlottesville, VA; based in Kigali, Rwanda and New York City
Working under Leighton Beaman, I prototyped 3D printed molds for a Google-sponsored research project investigating modular mud brick construction. My project for partner firm Alterior Office was focused on modeling urban data using geotagged points to create didactic 3D objects.

Aug 2020 - Dec 2020

LTL Architects (Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis), New York, NY, US, Winter Extern

I proposed schematic plans, facade schemes, and entry sequences for a private residence. My priorities were ADA compliance and sustainability considering passive cooling and site orientation.

Jan 2020 - Jan 2020


University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, US, Bachelor of Science in Architecture

Aug 2017 - current


Top 30/465 (final result pending) - Jiaxing Nanhu Water Tower competition, Award

Sound of Water proposes retrofitting a historic water tower in Jiaxing, China with interactive cymatic elements, converting it into an urban instrument (Lead designer)


Joseph W. Gold Scholarship, Scholarship

2018, 2019 + 2020 recipient: Merit award, nominated for three consecutive years by a faculty/staff member and recommended by the Dean


SARC Studio Selection Finalist, Award

Fall 2018, 2019 + Spring 2020: Semester’s work chosen to represent the work of the studio for publication, recruitment and exhibition


Mellon Diversity Grant, Grant

Awarded to rising Arts professionals from minority backgrounds underrepresented in museums


National Hispanic Scholar, Award


Areas of Specialization