Monica Ponce de Leon
Principal, MPdL Studio, Ann Arbor; Dean,Taubman College, University of Michigan
Monday, October 28 | 6:30pm
Monica Ponce de Leon is the design director of the architecture firm MPdL Studio with offices in New York, Boston and Ann Arbor Michigan, and the dean of the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Her work is internationally recognized for its innovation in design. In particular, Ponce de Leon has been a leader in the use of robotic technology in building fabrication. During her directorship of Harvard’s Digital Lab her research was the first in the United States to investigate the use of robotics in fabrication for buildings. Ponce de Leon brings this kind of innovative research to bear on her practice. Advanced fabrication techniques deployed in projects such as the RISD Library in Providence Rhode Island, the Conrad Hilton hotel in New York, and Helios House for BP in Los Angeles were first developed in her lab and are the result of the application of Ponce de Leon’s academic research into practice. Because of her innovative use of technology, she has received numerous awards, including the National Design Award in Architecture from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the AIA Institute Honor Award.
MPdL Studio is a medium size firm with offices in Ann Arbor, Boston, and New York with Monica Ponce de Leon, a Founding Partner of the former architecture firm Office dA, as Design Director.
Our work ranges in scale from furniture to architecture, urban design and infrastructure, with a focus on design integration, craft, detailing, and precision. We seize on the challenges unique to each project—the peculiarities of a site, requirements of program, and cultural specificity—as the catalysts for transformation. At the macro-scale we draw from the multidisciplinary forces that form the relevant context of every project. Program and experience drive our understanding and shaping of space. At the micro–scale, an investigation of the potentials of materials and construction techniques is the foundation for every design. Much of the corporation’s research is dedicated to an exploration of how to improve on contemporary modes of construction, investigating both industry standards as well as evolving technologies derived from digital manufacturing processes. The intensity and rigor with which we work with ideas, materials, and technology has established a unique design process that encourages architectural invention and fully integrated sustainable design.