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Marcus Shaffer
Associate Professor, Tenured
Portrait of Marcus Shaffer
Department of Architecture
224 Stuckeman
814.441.7536

Marcus Shaffer is an associate professor in the Department of Architecture.

Hi research focuses on the works, theories, and practices that engage The Machine as an extension of our impulse to explore and re-make the natural world. His work addresses building machines, automatons, and the spiritual mechanisms that represent our earliest technological expression; the mechano-pagan influence of The Machine on modern and visionary architecture; and attempts to transmit architectural knowledge and craft through construction machineries.

While Shaffer studies and contributes to a critical discourse probing The Machine in an Architectural context, his historical/theoretical search is informed by  and applied to  the design and fabrication of various tectonic machines. The agenda for the machines he designs and fabricates is to synthesize our powerfully rationalized technologies with the potency of meaning that is found in human ritual practices, which includes the act of building. The goal in designing and producing these machines is to enhance, extend, and transmit the very human act of architecture across physical, political, and temporal boundaries.

 

Education

  • M.Arch. / Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (2008 Graduate Design Research Award, 2009 Outstanding Graduate Thesis Award)
  • B.F.A. Industrial Design / Rhode Island School of Design

Courses Taught

  • ARCH 491/492: Undergraduate Thesis
  • ARCH 532: M. Arch / Architectural Design II
  • ARCH 503: Materials and Building Construction I
  • ARCH 204: Materials and Building Construction II
  • ARCH 497C: Machine Sessions / The Industrial Robot
  • ARCH 497: Architectural Metals: Fabricating Hardware and Ornament
  • ARCH 499F: Seoul Studio, Korea/Japan Architecture Study Abroad
  • ARCH 499: Contemporary Korean Architecture: From Modernist Origins to the Asian Avant-garde

      Graduate Thesis Adviser:

  • Apparatus X: Activating the Architectural Activist, Aaron Wertmam
  • Mechanizing Rammed Earth: Making New Earth Construction Viable in the United States, Zoe Bick
  • Machine / Block / Vault: Enhancing Earth-built Architecture with Modified Construction Technologies, Connor Pritz
  • The Ephemeral Dream Space: (Re)Activating an Evocative Architecture through Computational Devices and Bodily Interaction, Nasim Motalebi
  • Fast, Low-skilled, and Flexible Building Assembly (Now!): Revisiting the Joint-based Universal Building System through Low/Hi-Tech Fabrication Methods, Lizz Andrzejewski
  • Responsive Skin: Designing an Adaptive Envelope with Bamboo Veneer as a Hygroscopically Active Material, Manal Anis

      Ph.D. Co-Adviser

  • Tapping Into Urban Recylcing for Housing Alternatives: Developing Cardboard Architecture through Low-Tech Tooling and Self-build Systems, Julio Diarte

Research

  • Tectonic Machines and Machine-making
  • The Machine in an Architectural Context
  • Pre-fab / Factory-made / Machine-made Housing
  • Low-tech/Hi-tech Architectural processes
  • Material Processes and Making

Honors + Awards

  • 2018/19: Editorial Board Member / Journal: Insight - Civil Engineering
  • 2017/18: College of Arts & Architecture Faculty Research Grant Recipient: Developing Robotic Formwork: Enhancing Plastic Materials Construction Systems through Digimechanical Mobility and Variability
  • 2016/17: Borleand Project Space, Faculty Research Showcase: Reconstituting the Master Builder: The Architect Enhanced Through Art, Poetry, Science, and Scholarship
  • 2016/17: TLT Fellow, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2016: Visiting Scholar, Kookmin University, Seoul
  • 2015: Visiting Scholar, Sogang University, Seoul
  • 2013–2015:  Visiting Professor, Rhode Island School of Design (Department of Architecture / Department of Experimental and Foundation Studies)
  • 2013: ACSA National Creative Achievement Award w/Prof. Peter Aeschbacher
  • 2012: Visiting Scholar, Sogang University, Seoul

Exhibitions + Presentations

2018: TRANSFORMERED: Three Decades of Machinic Works in the Department of Architecture at Penn State (Exhibition Curator, Designer, Fabricator) Stuckeman School Rouse Gallery

2017: Penn State 3D-Printing Showcase (Exhibition Design / Fabrication), Stuckeman School Rouse Gallery

2017: Marcus Shaffer with Aaron Knochel, Tom Laureman, Nicholas Meisel, Matt Parkinson, and Timothy Simpson, "Making for the Masses: An Interdomain General Education Course combining Art and Engineering," presented at the 2017 Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA, March 18, 2017

2016: Marcus Shaffer and Brian Alfred: Researcher Dialogue / Boreland Project Space / Faculty Research Exhibition

2014: Marcus Shaffer, “Incongruity, Bizarreness, and Transcendence: The Cultural/Ritual Machine v. Technocratic Rationalism at Expo ’70,” presented at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), Florida International University, Miami, USA, April 11, 2014

2013: Marcus Shaffer, “The Machine in an Architectural Context: Ritual > Industrial,” public lecture, Department of Architecture, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA, August 30

2013: Exhibition: RISE TECTONIC MACHINES! CONSTRUCT THE EXIGENT CITY, Rouse Gallery, Department of Architecture, Penn State Stuckeman School

2013:Marcus Shaffer, “Developing Digi-mechanical Formwork for Construction in Environments of Displacement,” presented at 4th Annual International Conference on Materials and Manufacturing, May 12, 2013, Seoul, Republic of Korea

2013: Marcus Shaffer, “Something from Nothing: Extreme Re-purposing and Material/Construction Processes in First Year Studio,” presented at the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), California College of the Arts, San Francisco, USA, March 25, 2013

2013: Marcus Shaffer, “Tectonic Machines and Building Transmission,” TEDX PSU, March 17, 2013

2013: Marcus Shaffer, “The Machine in an Architectural Context: Ritual > Industrial,” public lecture, Department of Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, USA, March 11, 2013

2013: Exhibition: RISE TECTONIC MACHINES! CONSTRUCT THE EXIGENT CITY, BEB Gallery, Department of Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design

2012: Marcus Shaffer, “The Machine in an Architectural Context: Spiritual, Cultural, Ritual, Rational, and Industrial,” public lecture, College of Engineering, Department of Architecture, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea, July 27, 2012

2012: Marcus Shaffer, “Flexible Formwork and the Displacement City: A Technology of Extreme Accommodation,” presented at the 2nd International Conference on Flexible Formwork, University of Bath, Bath, England, June 27 – 29, 201

2011: Marcus Shaffer, “High Tech / Low Tech: Tectonic Machines, Earth-built Traditions, and Constructing the Exigent City” presented at the 28th Annual International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction (ISARC 2012), Seoul, Republic of Korea, June 29 – July 2, 2011

2011: with Peter Aeschbacher, “Pleasure Gardens & Dancing Machines: The Secret Life of Public Spaces”’ Presentation as part of the Stuckeman School’s Faculty Fridays Lecture Series, PSU/University Park, Pennsylvania, April 15, 2011.

2010: Marcus Shaffer, “New Machine Vernacular: Remote Building Devices, Digital/Cultural Accommodation, and Technologies’ Renewed Humanitarian Agenda” Presentation as part of the Stuckeman School’s Faculty Fridays Lecture Series, PSU/University Park, Pennsylvania, October 15, 2010

2010: Marcus Shaffer, “New Machine Vernacular: Remote Building Devices, Digital/Cultural Accommodation and Technologies’ Renewed Humanitarian Agenda” presented at Vernacular Futures: The Fifth International Seminar on Vernacular Settlement, University of Moratuwa, Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 28 – 31, 2010

2010: Marcus Shaffer and Jodi La Coe. “Vice Versa Machines: Architecture/Cinema” presented at the 2010 National Conference of the Beginning Design Student [NCBDS], Made: Design Education and the Art of Making, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC, March 18 – 20, 2010

2010: Marcus Shaffer and Jodi La Coe, “Block Wall”, Poster presentation, the 2010 National Conference of the Beginning Design Student (NCBDS), Made: Design Education and the Art of Making, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC, March 18 – 20, 2010

2009: Marcus Shaffer, “Mobile, Immediate, and Adaptable (for the People): Three Attributes of Tectonic Machines in the New Mechanical Age”, presented at the 2009 ACSA Southwest Fall Regional Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 15 – 17, 2009

2009: Marcus Shaffer, “The Machines of Cosmic Spectacle: Le Courbusier’s Unrealized Roof Mechanisms for L’Assembly at Chandigarh and the Church of Saint-Peierre de Firminy-Vert,” presentation at the Dean’s Annual Symposium: Le Corbusier: Architecture, Urbanism, Theory. SPSU/Atlanta, Georgia, USA, February 26 - 28, 2009

2009: Marcus Shaffer, Rise Tectonic Machines! Poster presentation, 7th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts & Humanities, January 9–12, 2009

Publications

Books

Forthcoming: Reality (Spectacularly) Transformer-ed: Observations on the Machine in an Architectural Context

2013: Marcus Shaffer, Rise Tectonic Machines! Construct the Exigent City! (Providence: RISD Architecture, 2013). This book is currently distributed by ORO in their Advanced Research & Design series

Articles

2015: Marcus Shaffer, “Raw Power: The Triangle School at Namyangju – A Finely Tuned Monolith.” Space 568, vol. 3 (2015): 96 – 102.

Papers

2018: Marcus Shaffer and Elena Maria Vazquez, "Bring in the Noise: A Robotic-aided Framework for the Indirect shape Translation and Molding of Inexact Geometries." eCAADe2018 / The 36th Annual Conference / "Computing for a Better Tomorrow"

2018: Marcus Shaffer and Julio Diarte, "Urban Recycling Intervention: Prototype Tooling for Transforming Waste Corrugated Cardboard into Architectural Elements and Building Components." WASCON 2018 Conference / The 10th International Conference on the  Environmental and Technical Implications of Construction with Alternative Materials / "No Cradle, No Grave - Circular Economy Into Practice"

2018: Marcus Shaffer, "Developing Mechanized Formwork: An Alternative to Single-use Concrete Formwork Systems." WASCON 2018 Conference / The 10th International Conference on the  Environmental and Technical Implications of Construction with Alternative Materials / "No Cradle, No Grave - Circular Economy Into Practice"

2017: Marcus Shaffer, "Developing Robotic Formwork: Enhancing Formwork Mobility and Variability Through Mechanization." Construction Robotics (2017): https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41693-017-0004-4/fulltext.html

2015: Marcus Shaffer and Aaron Wertman “Apparatus X: Designing an Architecture for Civic Engagement.” In Proceeding from the 2015 AIA/ACSA Intersections Conference, 2015. Atlanta, GA: AIA/ACSA 2015.

2014: Marcus Shaffer and Chaeshin Yoon, “The Open City: Technology Informed, De-formed, Re-formed,”  published in the conference proceedings of Architecture (ACSA) International Conference, Open Cities: The New Post-Industrial World Order, Seoul, June 21- 23, 2014 AIK/Ewha Woman’s University, Seoul, republic of  Korea

2014: Marcus Shaffer, “Incongruity, Bizarreness, and Transcendence: The Cultural/Ritual Machine v. Technocratic Rationalism at Expo ’70,” published in the conference proceedings of he 102nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), April 10 – 12, 2014, Florida International University, Miami, USA

2013: Marcus Shaffer, with Timothy Simpson, Elisha Halpin, Amy Vashaw, and Dorothy Evanson, “Integrating Engineering and Arts Through Capstone Design: Creative Campus Meets the Learning Factory,” published in proceedings of the 120th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), June 23 – 26, 2013, Atlanta, USA

2013: Marcus Shaffer, “Developing Digi-mechanical Formwork for Construction in Environments of Displacement,” published in the Advanced Materials Research Journal, Proceedings from the 4th Annual International Conference on Material and Manufacturing Technologies, ed. Thomas Wohlbier.

2013: Marcus Shaffer, “Something from Nothing: Extreme Re-purposing and Material/Construction Processes in First Year Studio,” published in the conference proceedings of the 101st Annual Meeting of the Associated Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), March 21 – 24, 2013, California College of the Arts, San Francisco, USA

2012: Marcus Shaffer, “Flexible Formwork and the Displacement City: A Technology of Extreme Accommodation,” published in the conference proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Flexible Formwork, International Society of Fabric Formwork (ISFF), June 2012, Bath, England, p. 314 – 322

2011:  Marcus Shaffer, “High Tech / Low Tech: Tectonic Machines, Earth-built Traditions, and Constructing the Exigent City” published in proceedings of the 28th Annual International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction International Association for Automation and Robotics (IAARC), Seoul, Rep. of Korea, p. 850–856

2010: Marcus Shaffer, “New Machine Vernacular: Remote Building Devices, Digital/Cultural Accommodation and Technologies’ Renewed Humanitarian Agenda” published in Vernacular Futures: FARU Journal 2010, Proceedings from the Fifth International Seminar on Vernacular Settlement, ed. H. Munisinghe, p. 201–210

2010: Principal Author with Jodi La Coe. “Vice Versa Machines: Architecture/Cinema” published in Proceedings of National Conference of the Beginning Design Student [NCBDS], Made: Design Education & the Art of Making, edited by Jeff Balmer and Chris Beorkrem, p. 291–296

2009: Marcus Shaffer, “Mobile, Immediate, and Adaptable (for the People): Three Attributes of Tectonic Machines in the New Mechanical Age”, published in Chang[e]ing Identities: Design, Culture, + Technology, proceedings of the 2009 ACSA Southwest Fall Regional Conference, K. Holliday ed., p. 164–173

2009: Marcus Shaffer, “The Machines of Cosmic Spectacle: Le Courbusier’s Unrealized Roof Mechanisms for L’Assembly at Chandigarh and the Church of Saint-Peierre de Firminy-Vert,” in Le Corbusier: Architecture, Urbanism, Theory, ed. Tony Rizzuto and Chris Welty (Atlanta, GA, 2009), p. 129–135

Built Works

2004–2008: Exhibition Design: “The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag That Inspired The National Anthem”
Venue: The Smithsonian Institute, National Museum of American History, Washington, DC
Client: SOM/Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Role: Senior Exhibition Designer w/Design Principal Tom Geismar

CV + Files + Links