Administrator, educator, architect, industrial designer, author, and former AIA president, Marvin Malecha, FAIA, died on Monday May 4 due to complications from heart surgery. He was 70 years old.

“The AIA mourns the passing of former AIA President Marvin Malecha," AIA said in a statement to ARCHITECT. "Marvin’s lifelong passion for smart and accessible design was by reflected by his influence on the North Carolina State College of Design campus. His dedication to the future of the profession of architecture is reflected by the countless students he encouraged to ‘seek to find the joy in [their] life.’”

Marvin Malecha
Stacy Keck Marvin Malecha

Born on June 26, 1949, Malecha earned his B.Arch. from the University of Minnesota and his M.Arch. from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and began his architecture career at Hugh Stubbins and Associates in Cambridge, Mass. In 1976, he accepted the role of dean of the College of Environmental Design at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he remained until 1994, when he was named dean of the College of Design at North Carolina State University. During this time, Malecha ran for and was elected to serve as 2009 AIA president. After 20 years at NC State, Malecha assumed the role of president and chief academic officer at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego in 2016.

“This is truly a momentous loss” said NC State dean Mark Hoversten in a press release. “Marvin truly embodied what it meant to be a designer. His values of creative thinking and efficient design have permeated this college, and shaped the values of the students who walk these halls.”

During his time in academia, Malecha taught critical and design thinking for first-year students, professional practice for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, and studio instruction, and offered design thesis advising. Early in his teaching career, Malecha was also principal investigator of the Total Energy House (1978-79), a research project exploring the possibilities of a residential project that was off the electric grid, and of the design for the Center for Regenerative Studies building (1988-94) at the Cal Poly campus. Malecha believed in the importance of travel in architectural education, spearheading the creation of the NC State European Center in Prague, creating study abroad programs in Japan and Greece while at Cal Poly, and conducting urban research projects in Northern Italy.

"I see design thinking at the essence of an architectural education," Malecha told ARCHITECT in a 2016 interview. "We [as architects] begin [solving] problems not just when a client hands us a program, but [also when] we decide on whether the site or the investment is appropriate. Now, architects are getting involved not only with designing the building, but also helping to design the organization of the people who work in the building. They work on commissioning buildings, post-occupancy evaluations, accessibility, and energy audits. That culture change is, at the core, my highest priority."

In 2002, Malecha was recognized for this work and was named a distinguished professor by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. The following year, he earned the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education from AIA and the ACSA. Malecha was also the only American educator to be named an honorary member of the European Association for Architectural Education.

Malecha amassed a unique portfolio of work over his career including the design of the NC State Chancellor's Residence, pieces of jewelry, and furniture. He is the author of various works including Being Creative: Being a Creative (Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2015) and The Junior Faculty Handbook on Tenure and Promotion (School of Architecture & Urban Planning University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, 2009), which he co-authored with Robert Greenstreet.

Malecha is survived by his wife, Cynthia, and their two children.

This story has been updated since its original publication.