Serbia (then Yugoslavia)-born architect and educator Igor Marjanović has been appointed William Ward Watkin Dean of Rice University’s School of Architecture, filling a vacancy that’s been open since June 2019 when former Rice Architecture dean Sarah Whiting departed for the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Since then, John Casbarian, Rice Architecture’s Harry K. and Albert K. Smith Professor of Architecture, has as interim dean. Casbarian will remain a faculty member once he steps down from his interim deanship.
Marjanović, who co-directs the interdisciplinary art and design practice ReadyMade Studio alongside Katerina Rüedi Ray, will arrive in Houston from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis where he is the JoAnne Stolaroff Cotsen Professor and chairs the undergraduate architecture program. Marjanović first came to Washington University from Iowa State University in 2006, initially serving as an assistant professor.
His deanship at Rice Architecture begins July 1.
“I am honored and humbled by this opportunity to join the Rice Architecture faculty, whom I’ve always admired for their distinctly generalist approach that integrates theory and practice and the making of buildings with the making of books,” Marjanović said in a new release published by Rice. “As a designer and scholar myself, I am inspired by that kind of synthetic thinking, which is so needed in our moment of deep political, social and cultural fragmentation.”
Marjanović, who Rice Provost Reginald DesRoches described as an “accomplished designer and scholar who brings great vision, endless energy and a collaborative spirit to the position,” trained as an architect at the University of Belgrade and went on to complete his undergraduate thesis at the Moscow Architectural Institute. He holds a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Ph.D. from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London.
Similar to his education, Marjanović’s professional practice has spanned the globe. As detailed by Rice in its announcement, he has practiced with Osnova Projekt in Belgrade, Denise Pontes Arquitetura Interiores in Fortaleza, Brazil, and with Chicago-based OWP/P Architects (acquired by CannonDesign in 2009). With ReadyMade Studio, Marjanović has “engaged questions of immigration, diversity, and globalization” through projects like the City of Arrivals installation at the Art Institute of Chicago and a community partnership with the Sofia Quintero Latino Art and Cultural Center in Toledo, Ohio.
As a scholar, Marjanović has authored and co-authored several books including Marina City: Bertrand Goldberg’s Urban Vision (2010), The Evolving Project: The Journal of Architectural Education and the Expansion of Scholarship (2021), and Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural Association (2015), the last of which served as the print counterpart of the acclaimed exhibition of the same name that debuted at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis and the RISD Museum in Providence before going on to travel internationally.
In 2009, Marjanović was bestowed with that year’s American Institute of Architects Education Honor Award for his Florence studio with the Sam Fox School titled Disegno: Encounters in Public Space. The studio “engaged a “diverse set of drawing strategies” as a means of “probing public spaces as a confluence of architecture, culture, and identity.”
“We live in the age of identity where categories such as race, gender and ethnicity constantly shift, expand and overlap, reshaping how we think about ourselves, each other and the buildings that we inhabit,” said Marjanović in a statement. “As the most diverse city in the country, Houston is at the center of a new multicultural world, which puts Rice Architecture at the forefront of identity discourse and a global quest to imagine a more equitable, beautiful and sustainable society.”
“I look forward to engaging the internationalism of Houston and the world at large and to working with the entire Rice University community to align our efforts around these strategic priorities,” he added.