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Remembering President Malecha

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Published on:

May 5, 2020


Remembering President Malecha

5/21/20 Update

A virtual funeral service will be held for Marvin J. Malecha on Saturday, May 23, 2020 at 10:00 AM PDT. All are welcome to attend. You can join the service live via this link:

San Diego, CA (May 7, 2020) — NewSchool of Architecture & Design (NewSchool) is deeply saddened to announce that beloved President and Chief Academic Officer, Marvin J. Malecha, FAIA, DPACSA, passed away on May 4, 2020, following a battle with his health. He was 70 years old. President Malecha is survived by his dear wife, Cindy, his two children, Peter and Michelle, and his granddaughter, Chloe.

“NewSchool and the design community at large has lost a shining star. Marvin’s belief that design can, and should, change the world for better will forever inspire us to forge deeper connections between design and the human experience,” said Yen Ha, architect and founding principal of Front Studio, New York, as well as a former chair and an active member of the Board of Directors for NewSchool.

A giant in architecture, Malecha served as NewSchool President and Chief Academic Officer from January 2016 to May 2020. Before assuming this position, Malecha served as a member of the NewSchool Board of Directors from 2010-2017. Malecha infused the NewSchool culture with his passion for teaching design inquiry, where he inspired students and colleagues alike with his notion, “It’s a golden moment when you begin to see things that don’t yet exist.” His presence at NewSchool was magnetic. Malecha will be remembered for encouraging students to follow their dreams, his captivating, humorous stories, his charismatic yet approachable leadership sensitivity, his affinity for sketching, and his keen sense of style and taste.

“Marvin is leaving a profound, indelible mark not only in the identity of NewSchool but in all of us who have had the honor of working with him, with his enlightening, gentle and elegant spirit,” remembers Elena Pacenti, Ph.D., Dean, School of Design at NewSchool. Pacenti points out: “As a strong advocate of design, Marvin has given us the strength and the motivation to pursue the creation of innovative and interdisciplinary curricula and projects, and transferred to faculty and students that enthusiasm and pride of being designers, and the confidence that as designers we can contribute to the creation of a better world.”

Another of Malecha’s colleagues and friends, Leonard Zegarski, NewSchool’s Head of Architecture Programs, explains: “Marvin brought a very special sensitivity to design thinking, one that was focused on the human experience. His book, 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.”

Malecha recognized and celebrated the importance of architecture and design, insisting: “As architects and designers, we have such a special way of seeing the world. What we do is valuable to the rest of the world—we need to be aware of that as an architecture profession. When I was AIA National president, I saw this passion for the future of our culture, cities, and environment. We should promote that and be proud of that. The people who enter these professions want to make the world better and enhance people’s lives. It isn’t really architecture until people live and work in it. It’s not really architecture until those lives are improved somehow. That’s my fundamental commitment to what I’m doing.”

Malecha spent the past four and a half decades in higher education. Prior to his presidency at NewSchool, he served as the Dean of the College of Design at North Carolina State University from 1994-2015. Before that, he was Dean of the College of Environmental Design at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, for more than a decade. “I have been fortunate to be positioned as a leader during an incredibly vital period in history. Through these many experiences I have come to consider design thought as the essential foundation of the design disciplines and the essential ingredient of innovation. It is design inquiry that places the design professional in a position that is crucial to the future of our culture,” said Malecha in an interview in 2016.

A graduate of the University of Minnesota and Harvard University and a practicing architect and professor, Malecha also held the roles of Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and a Distinguished Professor of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) during his tenure with NewSchool.  Malecha served in many other national positions, including AIA National President in 2009, and President of the ACSA in 1989-1990. In 2012 and 2013, he served as the Chancellor of the College of Distinguished Professors of the ACSA. His work received national recognition, most notably the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for excellence in architectural education and the AIA North Carolina F. Carter Williams Gold Medal for Architecture. In July of 2015, Dean Malecha was conferred with the honorific title of Professor Honoris Causa by Ion Mincu University in Bucharest, Romania. Marvin Malecha is the only American architectural educator to be designated as an honorary member of the European Association of Architectural Educators.

Malecha’s legacy will shine eternally through the many treasures he left behind. In addition to Being Creative: Being a Creative, he authored many other books covering the topics of architecture, design inquiry, and teaching pedagogies. Malecha’s 2018 lecture, Believing in the Teaching of Design, explores his newest book, To Profess, “Proclaiming with passion, affirming a life of reflection.” The lecture explores Malecha’s philosophy of “thinking, doing, reflecting, and teaching, derived from a lifetime of experiences.” Malecha also produced an array of incredible sketches over the years, some of which are included in his published books. And, some of Malecha’s product, jewelry, and furniture designs can be accessed here. This video was created when Malecha assumed the role of President and Chief Academic Office in 2016, and his bio is available here on the NewSchool website.

NewSchool would like to extend sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support from the design and higher education communities that Marvin touched, both near and far. NewSchool’s deepest sympathies are with the Malecha family at this very difficult time.

Please visit Marvin Malecha’s Tribute page and share your memories here.

If you would like to share your condolences with the family, greeting cards and flowers are welcomed and can be sent to:

The Malecha Family
1262 Kettner Blvd.
Unit 506
San Diego, CA 92101

You can also share your thoughts and well-wishes below.

Previous Update: 5/5/20

Marvin Self Sketch at Athens Acropolis From Being Creative Book

Self-Sketch at the Athens Acropolis from Being Creative: Being a Creative | Marvin Malecha

Marvin's Golden Moment Quote

Marvin Malecha

Forbidden City, Beijing, China | Marvin Malecha

Forbidden City, Beijing, China | Marvin Malecha

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre | Marvin Malecha
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre | Marvin Malecha

Marvin Malecha