All Press Releases for March 19, 2010

Cambridge Who's Who Recognizes Joseph R. MacDonald for Excellence At Global Design Company Urban A&O LLC

Joseph R. MacDonald, pioneer in architecture and design, discusses tactile technology and the future.

    NEW YORK, NY, March 19, 2010 /24-7PressRelease/ -- NEW YORK, NY, March 19, 2010, Joseph R. MacDonald, Principal of Urban A&O LLC, has been recognized by Cambridge Who's Who for demonstrating dedication, leadership and excellence in architecture and design.

"Four operating principles describe the philosophy of our firm's work: hands-on material exploration, the use of emerging technologies to design and fabricate form, multi-disciplinary collaboration...and perhaps most significantly, the cultivation of social interaction and education through design within the public realm." In 2009, Joe MacDonald, principal of Urban A&O LLC, addressed an international audience in Hangzhou, China. Delineating the work of his architecture and design firm - which has most recently included the Johnson & Johnson 2008 Beijing Olympic Pavilion, the Steinhart Aquarium "Water Planet" at the California Academy of Sciences, and The Island at the Center of the World exhibition commemorating the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage on the Hudson River - he once again showed the world how innovation and technology in design have emerged in the 21st century and the defining role Urban A&O LLC has played in both.

With a heavy emphasis on research, the designers at Urban A&O have engaged the public in exciting, if not unprecedented, ways. For the Water Planet at the Steinhart Aquarium, they turned to child psychologist Jean Piaget for some expert advice on the interaction between visitor and design. "[He] describes a constructivist model of learning where subject and object are indivisible in a reciprocal and informational exchange," MacDonald explained in his lecture. "They form each other; knowledge is continually being constructed and reconstructed through an individual's interaction with the built environment." For this particular project, Urban A&O created an immersive environment to facilitate a variety of learning experiences for guests as they enter the 10,000 square foot exhibition. The firm designed walls that would reflect the aesthetic and emotions of water, as well as created mechanisms that would allows guests to "touch water in its many states—as mist, steam, [both] flowing and frozen."

All of the projects Urban A&O accepts take place within a similarly public sphere, where it has the ability to recreate ways in which human-object interface occur. At the helm of operations, MacDonald - an alumnus of Harvard's Graduate School of Design - lends over a decade of expertise to the trade. He is considered by his peers as an authority on architecture and digital technology and has been featured by scores of consumer, trade and academic media outlets. Publications in which he has been noted have included: ELLE Decoration UK (2006), Metropolis Magazine (2006), The Architect's Newspaper (2005), Harvard Design Magazine (2004, 2005), Time Out New York (2004), The New York Times (2004), Harvard Magazine (2002), Vanity Fair (2002), "Digital Fabrications: Architectural & Material Techniques" by Lisa Iwamoto, "Innovative Design and Construction Technologies: Building Complex Shapes and Beyond" edited by Ingrid Paoletti and "Museum Design: The Future" by George Jacob, just to name a few. He was also featured in the CBS special "Preview of the Water Planet" in 2008 and on PBS. MacDonald and Urban A&O have been honored with a myriad of awards including China's Most Successful Design Award for the Johnson & Johnson Olympic Games Pavilion, and the Good Design Award, Event Design Award and Archi-tech AV Award for the Steinhart Aquarium.

In addition to his work with Urban A&O, MacDonald currently serves as associate professor at Harvard University, a position he has held since 2000. Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, he was a clinical associate professor of architecture at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. He holds a master's degree in architecture from Harvard University, where he completed a thesis entitled "Navigable Sites: Toronto Island Airport," extension studies from the Architectural Association in London, and a bachelor of arts in architecture from the University of Washington.

MacDonald is considered to be many things: a pioneer, an innovator, a leader. Having proven himself ready to take on a new era of tactile technology, he will seek to expand Urban A&O, gain larger commissions and, well, change the world. Perhaps this mission can be best expressed through his words on the design concept for the Beijing Olympic Pavilion: "Surrounded by a bamboo forest that sustainably sheltered its guests from the summer heat, the pavilion housed 'The Caring World,' an exhibition exploring how we care for each other and for our shared world. The exhibition employed storytelling media to highlight the views of dozens of individuals. Through documentary video and a photographic exhibition...The Caring World highlighted global health issues and the confluence of philanthropy, health policy, and research that is required to overcome them."

For more information on Urban A&O LLC, please visit

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