Marc Simmons of Front Named Ventulett Chair in Architectural Design at Georgia Tech

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Teri Nagel, Georgia Tech College of Architecture

The School of Architecture at Georgia Tech has appointed Marc Simmons to the Thomas W. Ventulett III Distinguished Chair in Architectural Design. In this capacity, Simmons, founding partner of international design and façade consulting practice Front, will advance the School’s teaching and research in emerging modes of architectural practice and lead collaborative ventures with students and faculty in architecture and related disciplines at Georgia Tech.

A leading advocate for innovative and critical practice, Simmons has produced seminal works in contemporary architecture including most recently:

  • the China Central Television Headquarters with OMA;
  • the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center with Renzo Piano Building Workshop;
  • the Dee and Charles Wyly Theater with REX;
  • the Yas Hotel with Asymptote; and
  • the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art with Sejima Nishizawa Associates.

An international search resulted in Simmons’ selection in large part due to the strong alignment between his expertise and the School of Architecture’s aspirations for uniting design and technological innovation. His firm, Front, is known widely for its successful execution of original and ground-breaking work, and for its progressive approach to design integration among building disciplines.  Front’s work methodology embraces architectural, engineering and cultural challenges with a first-principles approach for the evolution of creative and buildable designs.

“The digital-age practice of architecture will rise on creative contact between design and research across fields and disciplinary boundaries,” said George Johnston, chair of the School of Architecture. “We at Georgia Tech are ambitious in charting this direction, and I am certain Marc Simmons and Front will become powerful catalysts in this endeavor.”

The Thomas W. Ventulett III Distinguished Chair in Architectural Design is made possible by a generous endowment created in honor of Georgia Tech alumnus Tom Ventulett, founding partner of tvsdesign in Atlanta. The intention of the Ventulett Chair is to engage an exceptional practitioner with a record of international leadership and excellence in architecture to teach in the School and to develop significant initiatives to heighten the critical importance of design in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, nationally and internationally.

“It is a privilege to be named Ventulett Chair and to be afforded the opportunity to engage Georgia Tech’s robust educational and research platform for the experimental deployment of ideas and lessons evolved by Front through years of innovative practice,” said Simmons. “We look forward to working with students, faculty and the broader design community to execute studio, seminar and symposium formats that critically engage issues of the contemporary envelope.”

Prior to establishing Front in 2002, Simmons worked for the international façade engineering practices Dewhurst Macfarlane & Partners and for Meinhardt Façade Technology. Originally trained in architecture, Simmons graduated from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, Canada, and worked for Foster and Partners. He served as faculty member at Princeton University School of Architecture from 2005 to 2012, conducting graduate seminars on the subject of façade technology and practice, and teaching collaborative design studios.  He has also lectured widely on the work of Front. 

Previous holders of the Ventulett Chair include Monica Ponce de Leon, now dean of the Taubman College of Architecture at the University of Michigan, Nader Tehrani, founder of architectural firm NADAAA and professor and head of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT, and Lars Spuybroek, founder of art and architecture design firm Nox, and currently a full professor in the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech.

Alan Balfour, dean of the Georgia Tech College of Architecture, commented, “Marc Simmons’ practice offers a clear demonstration of the means by which the architect of the future can be empowered.”

About the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech has a proud heritage in architectural education, closely linking applied technology and fine arts since 1908. Today, the School of Architecture is a leading producer of new knowledge in architectural design and houses advanced research, studio and lab facilities. Its 30 full-time faculty and approximately 475 graduate and undergraduate students exploit the creative tensions between research and design to drive innovation in the field of architecture. Visit www.arch.gatech.edu for more information. 

About the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech
The Georgia Tech College of Architecture has been a leader in design innovation since 1908. Students, faculty and researchers in the Schools of Architecture, Building Construction, City and Regional Planning, Industrial Design and Music work across boundaries to advance knowledge of designed environments at all scales. The College fosters a culture of creativity and progressive thinking, and frequently hosts interdisciplinary performances, exhibitions, lectures and symposia. One of the top three producers of research among colleges of architecture and the arts, the College houses five interdisciplinary research centers and more than 20 research groups conducting projects that range from creating better simulation models for predicting building efficiency to developing new assistive technologies and more effective healthcare environments. Visit www.coa.gatech.edu for more information. 

About Front
Established in 2002, Front is a specialist design and façade consulting practice of 30 staff, based in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Hong Kong. Front are specialists in architectural façade systems for new construction and adaptive re-use, including bespoke curtain wall, hybrid cladding systems and the use of structural glass and related lightweight structures. Front’s portfolio of work ranges in size and complexity and includes large-scale high-rise projects, public and cultural institutions, additions to historically sensitive sites, as well as custom designed work for private residences and artists.  Visit www.frontinc.com for more information.