Experimental and Foundation Studies


Marcus Shaffer

Marcus Shaffer’s research activities focus on works, theories, and practices that engage the Machine as an extension of our impulse to examine and re-make the natural world. This work encompasses building machines, automatons, and spiritual mechanisms; the mechano-pagan influence of the Machine on modern/visionary architecture; and attempts to embody knowledge and ritual in construction technologies. While Marcus 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 these machines is a synthesis of our powerfully rationalized technologies with the potency of meaning found in our ritual practices.

In addition to teaching at RISD, Marcus is an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture at Penn State’s Stuckeman School, where he teaches graduate studios and courses pertaining to architectural materials and construction technologies. In 2013 he shared an ACSA Creative Achievement Award with Professor Peter Aeschbacher, for machine-related work designed as part of a Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Creative Campus Initiative.

Marcus is the author of two books; Rise Tectonic Machines! Construct the Exigent City! – and Machine Book Vol. 1: Mechanical Extension, Exploration and Empowerment in the Architectural Frontier (with Nathan King - forthcoming).He holds a BFA in Industrial Design from RISD, and an M. Arch from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.