In Memoriam: Marco Frascari, Architetto

Marco Frascari at Constructing Imagination Symposium, 2010
(Photo: Scott Mann)

Marco Frascari, G. Truman Ward Professor of Architecture at Virginia Tech from 1997 to 2005, died on June 2 in Ottawa, Canada, after a protracted illness. He was 68 and is survived by his wife, Paola Frascari. Born in 1945 under the shadow of Alberti’s dome of Sant’Andrea in Mantua, Italy, he achieved a Dottore in Architettura at the “verum IpsUm fActVm” (Instituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia) in 1969. There, he taught and worked for Carlo Scarpa and later opened his own architecture office. He moved to the United States and earned an MSc in Architecture at the University of Cincinnati and a PhD in Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. At the University of Pennsylvania, he became a professor and director of the PhD Program in Architecture. He also taught at a number of other schools, including Georgia Tech, Columbia and Harvard Universities. Dr. Frascari left Virginia Tech to become Director of the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Throughout his teaching career, he also maintained a small architectural practice and served as consulting architect for Sant’Andrea since 1992.

While at Virginia Tech, Dr. Frascari taught at the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center and founded the PhD Program in Architecture + Design. Widely admired as a uniquely engaging and effective teacher, his students, including numerous architecture professors, often recall his teaching through story-telling. His creative and critical architectural publications reach around the globe. He is probably best known for his article “The Tell-the-Tale Detail,” which has been reprinted and translated into numerous languages. His first book, Monsters of Architecture, develops phenomenological considerations of architectural anthropomorphism while his most recent book, Eleven Exercises in the Art of Architectural Drawing: Slow Food for the Architect’s Imagination (2011), unites his own drawings and writings into a summation of much of his thought. He last returned to Virginia Tech in 2010 to give the keynote address at the symposium Constructing Imagination, which marked the eleventh anniversary of the PhD program Dr. Frascari founded at the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center.