Marvin Malecha (1949-2020)

John Hill
7. May 2020
Photo courtesy of NewSchool of Architecture & Design

Architect and educator Marvin Malecha, president of the NewSchool of Architecture & Design and former president of the American Institute of Architects, died on May 4 from complications following a heart transplant.

World-Architects knew Marvin from the AIA Conferences on Architecture, where he was a constant presence at the expos and presentations as well as at the many evening gatherings. His round black glasses, mustache, and combed-back hair meant he stood out in a crowd of architects, though his friendly smile made him approachable and echoed his warm demeanor.

No doubt his annual AIA attendance stemmed from his involvement with the organization, but it also arose from his numerous academic roles, most notably as dean of the College of Design at NC State University, a title he held for 21 years, from 1994 to 2015. Before that he was dean of the College of Environmental Design at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. In 2016 he moved from Raleigh, North Carolina, to San Diego, California, to serve as president and chief academic officer at NewSchool of Architecture & Design, where he served until his death at the age of 70.

Both the NewSchool and NC State have posted words about Malecha's passing. The NewSchool writes, "Marvin’s laugh filled a room with happiness, and his presence will continue to be felt around NewSchool and the community he touched. We are incredibly blessed to have learned from him and been inspired by him. The world has lost an exceptional human being and a leader in architecture, design, and higher education."

NC State College of Design mentioned some of his accomplishments: "Malecha truly transformed the college, creating a Ph.D. in design program in 2000, a Master of Art and Design in 2002, and an undergraduate major in design studies in 2010. He also shaped the surrounding campus, serving as an advisor on the Hunt Library project and designing the chancellor’s residence, known as The Point."

Chancellor's Residence at NC State, 2011 (Photo: Google Street View)

The Point, his most well-known building, was designed as a replacement for the 1927 Chancellor's Residence designed by Hobart Upjohn, which was turned into the Gregg Museum of Art & Design in 2017. Malecha's design in brick has faint echoes of the Georgian original, but for the most part it has a quiet contemporary expression aligned with his ideals. 

These ideals were articulated through his teaching but also the numerous books he wrote, including Being Creative: Being a Creative (2015). This most recent book summarized Malecha's lifelong pursuits in architecture, as articulated by the NewSchool: "Being Creative: Being a Creative represents his extremely personalized account of becoming 'human-centered by design,' his architectural design mantra, and a belief he carried throughout his career as an architect and educator."

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