Monica Ponce de Leon

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Monica Ponce de Leon (Caracas) is a Venezuelan-born architect and educator. Her interdisciplinary practice, MPdL Studio has offices in Ann Arbor, MI, New York and Boston, MA. Prior to establishing her own practice she was the founding partner with Nader Tehrani in the award-winning firm Office dA. Ponce de Leon is Dean and Eliel Saarinen Collegiate Professor at the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.[1] Ponce de Leon, a National Design Award winner, is widely recognized as a pioneer in the application of robotic technology to building fabrication.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

A detail of the Helios House in Los Angeles, CA.

Ponce de Leon was raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and immigrated to Miami, Florida, with her family after graduating high school. She took English classes and worked in a millwork shop before enrolling at the University of Miami, earning her Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1989. In 1991, she received a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and held teaching appointments at Harvard University, Sci-Arc, Rhode Island School of Design, and Northeastern University while establishing Office dA.


Prior to her appointment at Michigan, Ponce de Leon was Professor of Architecture, director of the digital lab, and acting architecture program director at Harvard. At Harvard she developed the first robotic fabrication lab in an architecture school in the United States. During her tenure at Harvard, she also held visiting positions at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and the Georgia Institute of Technology,[3] and has given over 60 lectures and symposia on her work, which has been published in over 200 publications worldwide. Alongside Tehrani, Ms. Ponce de Leon received both the Young Architects Award in 1997 and the Emerging Voices Award in 2003 from the Architectural League of New York. In 2002, she received an Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters [4] and in 2008 she was named a United States Artist fellow.[5] In 2007 Ponce de Leon received the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture, the first Hispanic architect to receive this honor. [6]

Her work has received numerous awards, including 13 Progressive Architecture awards, the Harleston Parker Medal (2002), as well as citations from the American Institute of Architects, I.D. Magazine, and the Boston Society of Architects. In 2008, the Macallen Building was named one of the Top Ten Green Projects by the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment.[7] After the disbanding of Office dA in 2010, Monica Ponce de Leon established her own practice, MPdL Studio with offices in New York, Boston and Ann Arbor.

Further reading[edit]

  • Contemporary World Architects: Office dA, by Rodolphe el-Khoury, et al. (Rockport Publishers, 1999)
  • Surface Architecture, by David Leatherbarrow and Mohsen Mostafavi (MIT Press, 2005)
  • Zago Architecture and Office dA: Two Installation, by Eric Owen Moss, et al. (Actar, 2006)
  • Young Architects 7: Situating, by the Architectural League of New York (Princeton Architectural Press, 2006)
  • Fellowships in Architecture, by Janice Harvey (ed.) and Monica Ponce de Leon (foreword) (Oro editions, 2009)
  • Monsterpieces: Once Upon a Time . . . of the 2000s!, by Aude-Line Dulliere and Clara Wong, (Oro editions, March 2010)

External links[edit]