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Studio Ma Founder at MIT Architecture on "Joy Within"

By ccsullivan
Mar 4, '21 4:26 PM EST
Design by Studio Ma for a Arizona State University interdisciplinary science and research complex. Rendering by Beauty and the Bit
Design by Studio Ma for a Arizona State University interdisciplinary science and research complex. Rendering by Beauty and the Bit

A champion of social advance as well as regenerative architecture that benefits everyone, Christiana Moss, FAIA, lectures at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) School of Architecture + Planning Thursday, March 11, on the topic of “Joy Within.” Moss shares Studio Ma’s unique design approach, rooted in the Japanese concept of ma, with examples of recent works by the nationally recognized firm.

The MIT Architecture lecture presents the viewpoint and work of Studio Ma, an architecture firm focused on designing inspiring environments for all. Beginning with the concept of ma — understood in Japan as “the space between” — the firm’s approach explores the aspect (function) and the felt aspect (joy) of any space. In this way, ma is both a perspective and a dynamic relationship between object and environment.

Attending to this relationship allows a balancing of the given approach, guiding the studio’s work toward the highest possible value for all, says Moss. It opens doors to creating net-positivity in varied design contexts — optimizing aesthetics and functionality in harmony with the natural environment and human wellbeing. In short, joy within, function throughout.

Examples of the outcomes include higher education living and learning environments, such as student life and campus community making, as well as urban residential solutions, civic works, and research-based inquiry. The works uncover the attributes of the approach, including project leadership through partnership, advocacy through design, and sustainable solutions at a range of scales. From a graduate student community at Princeton University to an adapted student union in Tempe, and a net-zero ready workplace to an efficient museum in Phoenix, the solutions suggest direction in architecture at once forward-looking, ambitious and versatile.

In addition, on March 1, Moss join Mike Fox, director and CEO of Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, for the Building Museums2021 keynote presentation, “Resilient, Flexible, and Efficient: Creating a Sustainable Museum in the Desert.”

Over the last year, Moss and Studio Ma have also convened a series of three national summits with U.S. higher-education leaders. The most recent program examined how campus planning and design can better serve and elevate underrepresented students. Studio Ma’s work for Washington University in St. Louis, Arizona State University and others has examined ways to address legacy challenges by engaging and surveying diverse student bodies and creating new and reimagined campus experiences.

The next Equity Matters summit will be held in late June.

On the environmental front, Moss has been a national leader in creating high-performance, regenerative buildings that not only reduce resource use but even create clean water, energy and more. Moss has served as juror for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) Awards program.

The MIT Architecture Spring 2021 Lecture Series featuring Moss is scheduled for Thursday, March 11 at 6:00pm ET, via webcast.

About Christiana Moss
Christiana Moss, FAIA, NCARB, is a founding principal of Studio Ma, an architecture and environmental design practice founded in Phoenix, Arizona. Studio Ma's work is focused on higher education living and learning environments with particular expertise in the areas of student life and campus community making. Their work at Arizona State University over the past 18 years has significantly contributed to the vibrancy of the student experience in projects such as ASU's Memorial Student Union and Plaza, the Sun Devil Fitness Complex and Manzanita Hall. The architect for the Lakeside Graduate Student Community at Princeton University, Studio Ma is currently developing an undergraduate student life plan and residential college expansion for Washington University in St. Louis and recently completed a new mixed-use academic center for entrepreneurialism and innovation at Arizona State University.  Studio Ma is the recipient of numerous awards including AIA and SCUP national design honor awards.  They are ranked within the top ten Architect 50 Firms and have been honored as the 2016 AIA Arizona Firm of the Year and as a 2014 Architectural Record Design Vanguard firm.