Descriptive Form

Title: ECHOS
Editor: Mara Marcu
Size: 6.5in x 8.25in
Pages: 406
Illustrations: Color
Cover: Hardcover
Published by: Actar Publishers
ISBN: 9781948765046
Library of Congress
Publication Data: 2018942687
Languages: English

Text:  Echos; Mara Marcu
Image: Echos; ed. Mara Marcu

July 2018

SAID In Print.

About ECHOS:

The book of student and faculty work, co-op stories, and snapshots from several events places the reader in the midst of Peter Eisenman’s famous Grand Staircase, the living room of the Aronoff Center for Design and Art. Various constellations chart our diverse academic and social interactions—visible in the book’s five main themes: anxiety, praxis, trope, chreod, and utopia. Discussed by lead figures in the discipline—Peter Zellner, Victoria Meyers, Aaron Betsky, Edward Mitchell, Peter Waldman, Nader Tehrani, Shashi Caan, Jaime Velez, and Craig Dykers—the themes expand on the issues of theoretical anxiety, architectural style, practice, typology, the less-than-ideal, the peculiar, and the sublime.

Anxiety, introduced by Peter Zellner, collects and synthesizes multiple contradicting theories that entertain with equanimity various solutions to design problems. Praxis, introduced by Victoria Meyers, looks at outcomes—physical, prototypical, digital or analog, multi-dimensional and multi-media, spoken, written or unwritten—as well as working methodologies that shape design thinking. Trope, introduced by Aaron Betsky, maps out trends, emergent ideologies, and design expressions. Chreod, introduced by Edward Mitchell, documents and interprets field conditions, rule-based processes, issues of transgressions, non-smooth and nomadic entities that cut across arbolic-like divisions. Utopia, introduced by Peter Waldman, while suspending various otherwise necessary constraints, allows for an euphoric and unapologetically optimistic view of the world, with the goal of envisioning daring possibilities otherwise unimaginable. Utopia, therefore, prefigures all other themes and is the ambition and imaginary locus of the multiple programs and opportunities at the School of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Cincinnati.

In general, the term echos means sound or voice. In music the concept refers to a chant sang in dialogue by a choir. This melodic structure has specific hierarchy, notes, an intonations. Although not as popular, echos has also become an increasingly accepted plural form of the noun echo. The spelling echoes is however more commonly found.

The publication ECHOS synthesizes the work done at the University of Cincinnati, School of Architecture an Interior Design, marked by moments of compression and release in our curriculum, which revolves around traditional semester-long sessions and co-op (curriculum-based paid internship) semesters.

Though intentionally dissonant at times, our program reinforces the relentless belief that the profession and academia do not need to build on one another in redundancy to reinforce each other. Professional intership semesters weave with a year round schedule of highly theoretical, experimental, and consequently research based courses.

Indexing student and faculty work, co-op stories, and snapshots from several events, the book places the reader in the midst of Peter Eisenman’s famous Grand Staircase, the living room of the Aronoff Center for Design and Art, where the many student and faculty voices form a multilayered chorus of one of the most vibrant and diverse design schools in North America. Part of the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, the program benefits from its affiliations with industrial design, fashion design, communication design, art, landscape architecture, and urbanism. The opportunistic dialogue that inevitably influences the studio environment happens irrespective of disciplinary boundaries. This relaxes what might become an otherwise dogmatic curricular agenda, breeds new taxonomies and asks questions such as Amanda Lo’s thesis – “Do buildings dream of swallowed futures?”. In this way we elicit a ludic, nevertheless investigative attitude towards architecture and education.

all roads lead to SAID

Student Editors: Kyle Winston, Alan Alaniz, Chas Wiederhold, Christina Tefend, Jamie Kruer, John Meyer, Anjana Sivakumar, Erin Klein, Daham Marapane, Michael Sullivan, Brady Ginn, Seher Hashmi, Gael Perichon, Farshad Khalighinejad, Kristin Moreno, and Garcia Ghislaine

Editorial Board:  Edward Mitchell, William Williams, Michael McInturf, Udo Greinacher, Elizabeth Riorden, Edson Cabalfin

Graphic Design: Mara Marcu with Student Editors

Copy Editor: Gabriela Sarhos



GAA Foundation 
“Time - Space - Existence”
during the
2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

May 26 - November 25, 2018
Palazzo Bembo, Venice, Italy

Exhibition curated by:

Marcella Del Signore,

Associate Professor, New York Institute of Technology, NY, USA

Nancy Diniz,

Assistant Professor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY, USA

Frank Melendez,

Assistant Professor, City College of New York, CUNY, NY, USA

Text:  Exhibition Curators
Mara Marcu

Modes of perceiving, experiencing and inhabiting cities are radically changing along with a radical transformation of the tools that we use to design. Cities, buildings, bodies are complex and systemic organisms requiring approaches that engage new multi-scalar strategies to connect the physical layer with the system of networked ecologies.

Over the past two decades we have witnessed a series of projects with an interest in shaping architectural form coining terms such as ‘datascapes’ (1), and more recently, ‘atmospheric thinking’ (2).

In these projects computational technologies inform new relationships between information and matter, code and space to redefine new urban ecosystems where light, temperature, humidity, and biometric data are pre-conditions for spatial form.

This exhibition presents a group of projects by leading international designers using emerging and novel forms of reading and producing spatial conditions that connect/visualize data, responsive systems, and sensing/actuation technologies, through micro and macro scales.

The exhibition takes the opportunity to exhibit a range of projects, side by side, that transform data as an abstraction into spatial and experiential configurations. It aims at triggering discussion and debate on how the use of data in design methodologies and theoretical discourses have evolved in the last two decades and why processes of data measurement, quantification, simulation, ubiquitous technologies and algorithmic control, and their integration into methods of making architectural form and spatial experiences, are becoming vital in academic and industry practices.

(1) Mass, W. Van Rijs, J. De Vries N.
(2) ‘Thermodynamic Interactions’ An Architectural Exploration into Physiological, Material, Territorial Atmospheres’ Ed Garcia-German, J. Actar Publishers 2017

Project Credits: BUBBLEgum; Adam Schueler, Ming Tang, Mara Marcu
Physical Installation:  Bubbles; Adam Schueler, Peter Foster, Anousha Alamgir, Connor Tuthill




How do the materials you and your colleagues selected help tell this story?

The project presented in Venice uses virtual materials. The physical installation has been presented in various instances: as a triangulated artifact using a virtual sheet material, reinterpreted with a marching cube algorithm and texture mapped with a variety of patterns, which allude to the initial inspiration drawn from two seemingly different yet intertwined sources: Islamic geometries and soap bubbles.

Text:   Excerpt from an interview with Michele Ralston for University of Cincinnati; full access here

Image: BUBBLEgum; Ming Tang, Mara Marcu, Adam Schueler

Explain how your exhibit  examines conflicting attitudes.

Given the ubiquitous proliferation of digital techniques, “Optical Illusions of Volume” prompts an exploration of the many misalignments inherent in the design and manufacturing process. Through computation and augmented reality, a physical artifact is brought to life in Venice at Palazzo Bembo.

For this event, we have also incorporated augmented reality through the use of a mobile device. Visitors can visualize, interact, change textures, modify placement in space and walk through a virtual representation of our physical installation exhibited at the University of Cincinnati. While in reality certain decisions are frozen and limited to the selected material, spatial or budgetary constraints, in an augmented reality environment these considerations can be left open-ended.

September 2018

What advice do you have for current and future architecture students?

To embrace collaboration and exploit the accidental.



Eliadean Philosophy and Jeffersonian References


Sambó Reconfigured - detail

Sambó Reconfigured - overall

Eliade’s Secret Room

The term Sambó was first used by the Romanian scholar Mircea Eliade as an abbreviation for Shamballa. The term is a metaphor for what he calls the secret room, which refers to a lost or denied paradise .

In the Romanian  vernacular, the dining room is replaced by what is called the clean room. This is generally locked and only used to receive guests. Children, who are often denied access due to maintenance considerations, tend to manifest an avid curiosity towards what lies beyond the locked door. 

The Jeffersonian Sambó

Commissioned as part of The University of Virginia Teaching Fellowship, the project speculates on the typology of the Jeffersonian alcove apertures, truncated pyramid skylights (thirteen oculi are formed by the layered condition of the wall), and octagonal typologies (each unit being circumscribed in an octagonal wireframe which defines the aggregation logic) embedded in a porous wall, as the basis for the mythically charged, paradoxical Jeffersonian Sambó.

August 2011 - May 2013

UVa East Gallery Wall, 2012

Sponsored by the University of Virginia A School
Photography: Scott Smith Photography

Bed, Porch, Window


“Once I went there with several pieces of candy in my pocket.
Without realizing it I put one in my mouth. [..] 
Impossible! It had no flavor. [..]
My mouth was dry. I couldn’t move my tongue.
I couldn't do anything in Sambó.
I wasn't hungry, I wasn't thirsty, I wasn't sleepy.
I lived, purely and simply, in paradise.”

Mircea Eliade
The Forbidden Forrest
Base Unit

Serpentine Bench

"Of course, I realized then that they knew about my crime. They knew that I had entered Sambó with candy in my pocket and had even tried to eat a piece. [..] The rest of my family didn't know about Sambó. They hadn't turned their heads in time to see the direction indicated by the man with the mustache... I waited impatiently to be allowed to get out of bed.

On the third day as we were returning from the beach I managed to slip away from their watchful eyes and ran to the second floor. But I couldn't get in. Sambó was locked. I was crushed. I stayed there for a long while, trying the latch from time to time. In vain. Sambó remained locked. I prayed in my mind as I had been taught to pray. I recited all the prayers I knew, to God, to the Holy Mother, to Jesus Christ, and to my Guardian Angel, but Sambó remained locked. I prayed in my mind to the man with the mustache. I prayed to everyone at his table, those powerful men who knew unintelligible words, who were initiated into mysteries and then trembling I put my hand on the latch. In vain. The door still didn't open. I had been forbidden to enter. Sambó had become inaccessible to me.“

Mircea Eliade
The Forbidden Forrest



The project documents and proposes urban alternatives for post-communist architecture. Specifically, it argues that the massive construction that characterized the “golden age” of Communism constitutes a rich historical and creative departure point for contemporary design.

Situated at the juncture between the factual, the ludic, and the nostalgic—the project reinvents representational methods and design attitudes for the architecture of the former Eastern European Block.


In Romania conflicting stylistic influences are complicated by the ongoing encounters between high architecture and everyday use, between ongoing global, economic development and local spatial practices. The proliferation and translation of styles, the restrictions of government regulated urbanism, and the current ubiquity of capital are the framework for the play of an urban life of improvisation and invention. Modelled after the French capital whose inventive architecture had a large influence in the East, Bucharest—once called “Little Paris”—later became the epicenter of the Communist Architectural Regime. As such, unexpected associations are ubiquitous in the city.

Mara Marcu — Rooms with A View

Remnants of the country’s once rural society are not fully urbanized; the vegetable garden and the personal pig farm find themselves in industrialized mass housing projects. This programmatic anomaly has made possible a new typology–the block of flats with a semi-shared vegetable garden. Likewise, the parking lots of courtyard apartment complexes, given the scarcity of the automobile, are turned to new uses as arenas for soccer, handball, and ice hockey. The courtyard might be flooded in winter, or the snow harvested to turn it into ice. A rope might be strung across to make a tennis court. Through human resourcefulness, the former concrete parking lot turned playground successfully replaced other formal, yet un-programmed recreational areas. This level of invention was a feature of the Romanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2018. Similarly, secular and religious remnants of the former village are still present in the current urban fabric. In the spirit of bricolage (see “Everyday Urbanism” by Margaret Crawford), projects like the Village Museum are carefully woven in the city’s fabric.

Through misuse and appropriation, the city has found its own unruly, surreptitious, and unyielding urbanity. Its sudden beauty takes you by surprise. Highly imperfect, far from ideal, not idyllic, never particularly romantic, yet completely bewildering, the architecture of Romania is perpetually in search for something else. As such, this land constitutes the ideal playground for the work of the architect. This body of work does not focus on documentation alone, but also on articulating a contemporary architecture of newfound dimensions, strategies, and tactics.

MMXIII 2020 — Cincinnati, USA