This is the personal website of Adam Marcus, an architect and educator based in Oakland, California. Adam directs Variable Projects, an independent architectural practice, and he is a partner in public art collaborative Futures North. He also teaches architecture at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

News Log

Modular Variations at ASCA Miami Beach

I will be presenting my Modular Variations project at the annual conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Thursday April 10 at the Eden Roc in Miami Beach. The project investigates the design of a single reconfigurable mold that can produce a wide range of variable, cast components.

Spring Semester Update

Classes began last week at CCA Architecture, and I’m excited for what promises to be a busy and productive semester. I’m teaching two courses this spring, both of which will incorporate intensive full-scale prototyping. Together with Margaret Ikeda and Evan Jones of Assembly, I’m teaching an advanced integrated building design studio titled “Architecture in the Making,” in which students will be designing an annex facility for the REALM Charter School in Berkeley. The school has partnered with Studio H, a nationally recognized design-build workshop and curriculum for high school students, and we’re looking forward to working with both the faculty and students to imagine new architecture for such an innovative program. We will also be collaborating with Autodesk and Instructables (where I am an artist in residence this spring) to produce some full-scale metal envelope prototypes at their new Pier 9 Workshop.

My second class is an advanced Design Media elective titled “Performative Ornament.” We’ll be exploring new approaches to contemporary ornament, particularly in the context of processes of computational design and digital fabrication. I expect some ambitious and experimental prototyping from the students; you can see the class website for more info & process images.

All in all, an action-packed semester… Stay tuned for updates.

New Futures North Website

The new year is underway, and my Futures North partners and I are cruising on design ideas for the Lowertown Ballpark Public Art project. We just launched a new Futures North website as well as a Tumblr blog for the Lowertown project, which documents both the design process and our community outreach efforts.

Modular Variations in Suckerpunch

The work of my spring 2013 Modular Variations studio has recently been published in the popular suckerPUNCH blog. See this link for more info; for full documentation of the students’ work, see the Modular Variations publication.

AIA Minnesota Honor Award

I’m very excited to announce that my office Variable Projects is the recipient of a 2013 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects Minneapolis. The project is a data-driven installation designed and built this year for the University of Minnesota School of Architecture on occasion of the School’s centennial anniversary. More info here; see this link for the official AIA-MN press release; see this link for more info and images of the project.

Lowertown Ballpark Public Art Commission

I’m thrilled to announce that Futures North, a design/build collaborative that I direct along with Daniel Dean, John Kim, and Molly Reichert, has been selected to complete a permanent public artwork for the new Lowertown Ballpark under construction in St. Paul, MN. The artwork will be integrated into the new building, which will serve as home to the St. Paul Saints and is being completed by a joint team of Ryan Companies, Julie Snow Architects, and AECOM. We are so excited to work on such a visible project, in such a dynamic community, and with such terrific collaborators. For more info, see the ballpark’s press release and an article in the Pioneer Press.

Workshop: Formations 2013 @ CCA

I’m excited to lead a workshop on parametric diagramming and drawing, with Andrew Kudless at CCA on Saturday, October 19. The one-day workshop is part of FORMATIONS 2013, a series of workshops for students and professionals in the Bay Area. More details & registration info here.

Publication: Modular Variations Studio

The work of my Modular Variations studio (spring 2013, University of Minnesota School of Architecture BDA Program) has been published in digital form. The book (link here) documents the work of the semester-long studio, which culminated in the Modular Variations Prototype II installation. Special thanks to Elliot Olney and Chris Tallman for putting in extra time over the summer to finish the book project.

California Bound

I’m excited to announce that after two terrific years in Minneapolis, I’ll be relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area this summer to start a new teaching position as Assistant Professor of Architecture at California College of the Arts. I’ll be teaching design studios and courses in visual & digital media, and I’m really looking forward to joining such a great group of faculty and students.

New Variable Projects Website

I’m happy to announce that the Variable Projects website has, at long last, been redesigned and updated. More projects to come soon; stay tuned.

Minnesota Public Radio

Listen to Adam on MPR discussing a project from his spring 2013 “Full Scale” studio at UMN. Graduate student Hank Butitta (M.Arch ’13) took on an ambitious project for his final semester, purchasing a used Bluebird school bus and converting it into a flexible dwelling. MPR attended the final review and featured the project on their Daily Circuit program. You can listen to the story here.

LakeForms at UMN

Futures North, along with the four other finalists in the Creative City Challenge, will be presenting our LakeForms project this coming Wednesday as part of a public showcase of the competition held at the University of Minnesota College of Design. The event will take place on Wednesday, February 27 at 5:30pm at Rapson Hall, Room 100 and will be followed by a panel discussion and reception.

January Update

The semester is underway here at Minnesota, and I have a great lineup of studios that I’m teaching this spring. I am advising 13 3rd-year M.Arch students as part of my Full Scale Masters Final Project studio, which consists of individually directed architectural projects of varied scales and programs, all of which are asked to interrogate their ideas in some way at 1:1. I’m also teaching an undergraduate BDA studio titled Modular Variations, which will use techniques of computational design and digital fabrication to explore relationships between standardization and variation. Specifically, we’ll be building upon my related research looking at designing reconfigurable molds constructed of standardized parts yet capable of producing variable components. Lastly, I am once again both coordinating our terrific graduate Catalyst program of visiting instructors & lecturers (see list here) as well as teaching one of the Catalyst studios. Taught in collaboration with the computational design powerhouse Nathan Miller of CASE, our studio will explore ways of using large quantities of data in designing prototypes for an installation for the School’s upcoming Centennial in October 2013.


I’m excited to announce that LakeForms, a proposal for a temporary urban pavilion that I designed with my collaborators in Futures North, has been shortlisted in the $50K Minneapolis Creative City Challenge. In the next phase, 5 finalists will further refine the shortlisted schemes and present to a jury at a public presentation at the University of Minnesota on February 27. Stay tuned for details; check out the LakeForms Facebook page for updates. Many thanks to all those who voted and supported the project during the open voting phase!


I’ve recently formed a collaboration with Daniel Dean, John Kim, and Molly Reichert (we call ourselves Futures North) to submit an entry to the Art in the Plaza: Creative City Challenge design competition. The brief calls for a temporary work of public art for the plaza directly outside the Minneapolis Convention Center for summer 2013. Our team has proposed a hybrid pavilion/planting system that emerges out of the ground, and which takes its form from the topography of the city’s lakes. You can read more about the LakeForms project here. The first phase is open to public voting; please vote for our proposal at this link by January 7!

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