Alexander Watanabe

Alexander Watanabe

Ann Arbor, MI, US



I love problems, taking them apart, understanding what they are constituted of, and figuring out a vector through the knot that unties it. From a self-taught understanding of photography I moved to a formal architecture education and further developed my spatial thinking. During those studies I also began programming and working with Arduinos. I became interested in responsive systems for their synaesthetic potential: to take any senseable phenomena (or information!) and translate it into any other form. Although I deeply enjoy the geometric and spatial qualities of architecture, I am excited by the possibilities of reactive environments and what they entail for the occupation and use of space.


Online portfolio at


rootoftwo, Ann Arbor, MI, US, Software Designer

Whithervane: Coding Python solution to parse RSS news feeds extracting location and contextual information to use as dataset for micro controller based performance art installation at invitational UK art festival.
menotme: Developed and executed a code solution that responded to the required behavior of the custom hardware system and provided expertise to identify and translate system requirements into software
design. Collaborated with the Project Manager to write, test, debug and maintain the software solution.

Oct 2012 - current

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, US, Research Assistant

Worked under Geoffrey Thün on his "Integrated Responsive Building Envelopes" grant project. Developed building energy model in C++/Python to analyze and validate performance gains of distributed networked sensing, actuation and computation platform.

Sep 2012 - May 2013


University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, US, Masters, Architecture: Material Systems

Recruited towards end of mArch thesis with full tuition+stipend and research position. During this time I deep dived into programming, skilling up and working on an NSF funded smart facade project, as well as developing an toolset/workflow for developing smart/interactive environments:

Sep 2012 - Jun 2013

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, US, MArch, 3.5 yr professional degree

Picked up Grasshopper in the first weekend of grad school and ran with it eventually branching out into programming (Arduino/C++/Python) making not just pretty shapes but using intelligence/data towards useful ends in the built environment.

Thesis project:

Jul 2009 - Apr 2012

Waseda University, Tokyo, JP, Bachelors, School of International Liberal Studies

Liberal arts degree, focused mainly on literature (post-wwii English + Japanese) as well as several architectural+urban theory/history courses.

Sep 2004 - May 2009

Areas of Specialization