Mark Donohue is the chair of the undergraduate Architecture Program (BArch). His practical training in architecture offices in the United States and Switzerland. As an associate in the firm of Mark Mack Architects, he was project architect and designer for a number of award-winning works.
As a senior project designer and associate with Gensler, he focused on large-scale commercial and institutional projects culminating in the competition winning entry and subsequent construction of the 900,000-square-foot Lettermen Digital Arts Center for Lucasfilm in the Presidio.
Donohue is principal and cofounder of Visible Research Office, a multidisciplinary firm based in San Francisco. Through VRO Mark researches new fabrication techniques and innovative materials and their application in the construction process. The projects test out the research at varying scales and uses from private homes to interior interventions for institutions to large-scale cultural projects done for competitions.
He has completed a number of residential commissions in the Bay Area: The Torqued House, 45° House, and Staggered House examine perception and geometry expressed through material form.
In 2007 the 45° House was selected as one of five homes for an architectural tour of South Bay homes. Work at the institutional scale with CCA enabled the exploration of ideas about material effects. CCA's Office of Student Affairs, the Graduate Design studios, and Solar Blades were born out of research into perception of shapes, moiré patterns, and Fresnel lenses.
The work of VRO has appeared in publications and has won a number of awards. In 2007 the Torqued House was nominated for the house-of-the-year award from World Architecture News and won a design award from Residential Architect in 2008.
In 2010 a canopy for a student lounge at CCA titled Aortic Arc won a design award from the AIA California Council. Donohue's firm’s work has appeared in publications including Interior Design, Metropolis, Residential Architect, arcCA, Appendx, Hinge, and Zyzzyva. In 2007 the work of VRO was nominated for the Emerging Voices lecture series sponsored by the Architecture League of New York.
Donohue is an educator as well as practitioner. He taught at Harvard Graduate School of Design, University of California Berkeley, the Boston Architectural Center, and University of Nebraska Lincoln before working at CCA.
He writes and lectures on issues of representation and digital production in architecture in addition to his practice and teaching endeavors. He has been a speaker at the Smart Geometry Conference, Symposium on Architecture in the 21st Century at LSU, and the New Cities, New Media Conference at USC.
His first book (edited with Balz Mueller) entitled 5x2: Research and the Making of Architecture (CCA & UC Berkeley, 2006) is distributed by William Stout Architectural Books. The interview-based book was a compendium piece to a joint CCA and UC Berkeley seminar taught in 2005. The seminar compared and contrasted U.S. and Swiss educational systems and practices.
His forthcoming book, Working 1:1, is the second in this interview-based series focuses on architecture practices that use digital technology to explore the process of construction and interaction with the built environment at full scale.
Donohue has been active at the local and state level of the AIA. In 2003 he received a Special Commendation from the AIA California Council. The award was given in recognition for his dedication and promotion of the profession having chaired the 2003 Monterey Design Conference. The conference theme, "Doing good, Doing good” focused on the architect's changing role as grassroots initiators of social change.