Marco Frascari, Director of the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism: 1945-2013

Professor Marco Frascari passed away on Sunday, June 2, 2013 at the age of 68. He was the founder of the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism’s PhD program at Carleton University, and he is remembered as a visionary director and an inspiring teacher. He personified the notion of Vita Beata and material imagination. His generous spirit animated the Architecture building for eight magical years. He is and will be missed.

–Sheryl Boyle, on behalf of the faculty, students and staff at the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism.

Marco Frascari delighted in his origins. He was born in 1945 in Mantova, the city of Alberti’s Basilica of Sant’Andrea. He grew up surrounded by majestic Renaissance architecture, art and history. He received his first degree from the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice (Diploma di Professore di Disegno). He was a student and later an assistant of Carlo Scarpa and Arrigo Rudi at the Istituto Univeritario di Architettura in Venice, and worked as an apprentice for both, being initiated to the practice of architecture before establishing his own firm in Verona. Later, he moved to the US with his family and continued his studies at the University of Cincinnati (Master of Architecture) and the University of Pennsylvania where he received his PhD under the guidance of Dean Holmes Perkins.

Marco Frascari distinguished himself immediately as an exceptional educator and an eminent theorist and scholar. He is considered one of the most influential authors in contemporary architectural theory. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania for almost two decades where he worked alongside Joseph Rykwert and later became the Director of the PhD program. Frascari taught and lectured at leading architectural institutions worldwide, including the Architectural Association, Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Georgia Tech, Nottingham University, School of Art and Design at Auckland University, and many others. As an international critic, researcher and conference panelist, he was frequently invited to provide guidance and direction for the architectural community. His lectures inspired students, academics and practitioners through his engaging storytelling style, his critical yet playful drawings and his profound understanding of architecture. From 1998 to 2005 he held the distinguished chair of G. T. Ward Professor at Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center at Virginia Tech, where he established and led the PhD program in architecture. Afterwards, he took on the Directorship of the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism at Carleton University in Ottawa in 2005, where he had recently founded the new PhD program in architecture that is hinged on the culture of practice.

Frascari is considered an internationally renowned figure and is acknowledged as a leading scholar at all levels of academia throughout the world. His work stands out for the level of scholarship, its visionary character and its contribution to the knowledge of architecture. A truly eclectic scholar and prolific writer Frascari has written on topics of architectural representation and tectonics published in Casabella, AA Files, RES, Terrazzo, JAE, Nexus Network Journal, Assemblage, Nordic Journal of Architectural Research, and many other scholarly journals and magazines. Marco Frascari’s Monsters of Architecture (1991) is well read in contemporary architectural theory. He is also the author of “The Tell-the-Tale Detail,” a seminal essay which continues to stimulate discussion as one of the most influential pieces of its kind since its publication in 1981. It has been translated in Spanish, Japanese and Chinese. Frascari’s own body of work has already been subject to scholarly research.

His most recent Eleven Exercise in the Art of Architectural Drawing: Slow Food for the Architect’s Imagination (2011) embodies the essence of his legacy as an architectural theoretician examining the links between drawing and building, delving deeply into the nature of analogue drawing and architectural imagination. Marco kept active, and continued reading, drawing, and writing throughout the protracted illness, which on June 2, 2013 took him away from his beloved wife, dear friends, students and colleagues. At the time of his death he was working on the final editing of a book, developed over the course of two decades entitled THE DREAM House. A Magic Storytelling for Architects. One can appreciate his intellectual strength by considering that in spite of the fact that in the last 15 months of his life, Frascari could not speak or write because of a debilitating stroke, he was able to overcome these difficulties, communicating and working effectively on revising his own text. This is a masterpiece that when published will become a must-read for anyone who has been interested in and has followed his teachings and writings during the last three decades, but also for anyone new to his work. Many of the crucial concepts, which can be found in his previously published texts are in dialogue here with new ideas centered on the notion of dreams, offering access to his cosmology in architecture, encompassing a theory of imagination through key scholarly revelations, including the fact that dreams are the primary mode of imagining, drawing and thinking. It is important to remind ourselves that Frascari has kept his mind’s eye on what is getting lost in the teaching of architecture, crafting his “imagination exercises” as a way to enact a traction, which could in turn teach students how to think and how to imagine, putting his theories into his practice.

 –Federica Goffi

Marco is survived by his loving wife, Paola Frascari, who has kindly created a memorial page on Facebook as a public place for friends, students and colleagues to share their thoughts, images and memories of Marco.

A funeral mass will be held at 10:00am on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at the Notre-Dame Basilica at 385 Sussex Drive in Ottawa. A reception hosted by the family will follow the service at 11:15am at the National Gallery of Canada (Sketches Room), located at 380 Sussex Drive in Ottawa. Please RSVP to by June 21, 2013.

For more on the life of Marco Frascari, please visit