Mark Donohue

Associate Professor of Architecture
California College of the Arts
San Francisco, California, USA

I like to ask questions through the work I am doing. Questions of space, form, structure, light and geometry seem to persist as lines of inquiry. Being an architect and educator gives me a chance to explore these things with a diverse set of collaborators equally obsessed with making things. I am an Associate Professor and recent program Chair at CCA as well as Building Technology coordinator. I write and lecture on issues of representation and digital technology. I am principal and cofounder of Visible Research Office, a multidisciplinary firm based in San Francisco. Through VRO I research new fabrication techniques and innovative materials and their application in the construction process testing out the research at varying scales.

Aortic Arc
450 x 810 x 450 cm
HDPE, stainless steel, gravity

The minimum surface structure which is equal parts light scoop, spatial definer and viewing portal was inspired by radiolarian. Tessellation, origami and topology in the form of minimum energy surfaces are all at work in the piece. The surface is suspended from 3 steel rings (2 circular, 1 elliptical) that are held and hold each other in tension. A singular large parabolic ring functions as a ‘hoop skirt’ below. The technical and artistic challenges are unique and did not allow for a conventional approach. Structural engineers employed non-linear analysis tools and parametric BIM technology to model and predict the final minimal energy form of the piece that, structurally, behaves as a hybrid between a cable-net and membrane structure.