Mark Donohue profile image

Mark Donohue received his BArch from Carnegie Mellon in 1986 and MArch with distinction from Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1995. He did his practical training in architecture offices in the US and Switzerland. As an Associate in the firm of Mark Mack Architects he was Project Architect and Designer for a number 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.

He is principal and co-founder 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. The Office of Student Services, 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. His 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.

Mark 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 taking his present position 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” was published by CCA & UC Berkeley in 2006 and 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 US and Swiss educational system and practices. His forthcoming book “Working 1:1” is the second in this interview based series focuses on architecture practices which use digital technology to explore the process of construction and interaction with the built environment at full scale.

Mark 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 architect’s changing role as grassroots initiators of social change.

Associate Professor, Architecture
Chair, Architecture

BArch, Carnegie Mellon University; MArch, Harvard University