ASU faculty who inspire: Marc Neveu

June 14, 2022 · 4 min read · By ASU Online
Arizona State University faculty Marc Neveu dedicated his career to understanding architecture pedagogy and how to encourage lifelong learning. Buildings will always be buildings; however, the stories created within their walls and passed on are what give them meaning.

Finding his place in higher education

Marc Neveu, co-director of the Center of Building Innovation and professor at Arizona State University, started his career as an architect with a part-time adjunct teaching role. Little did he know, a formative experience that made him question his own qualifications would lead him down the path he’s on today.

In graduate school, while on a project review with a faculty member he looked up to, Neveu saw the influence an educator can have on student confidence. After self-reflecting and talking to his advisor, Neveu couldn’t get the question out of his head: How is architecture taught and learned?

Architecture pedagogy became the central theme of Neveu’s PhD studies, continued research and lifelong career. After deciding to stop working as an architect in the field, Neveu graduated with his PhD, accepted a tenure track position and never looked back. Learning from his experience as a graduate student, Neveu approaches teaching with a student-first mindset.

“It's about the student, and really meeting the student where they're at,” explained Neveu.

Storytelling and architecture aren’t so different

In his research on architecture pedagogy, Neveu always came back to the idea that all cultures build things and tell stories. Buildings are living spaces given meaning by the life within their walls. When students complete projects in his architecture courses, Neveu encourages them to explore not just the building, but the stories and experiences that make them meaningful. This is important because once a building is built and out in the world, it no longer belongs to the designer, but to the people who use it.

“…Our cultures have embedded meaning in what it means to be an office, or what it means to be a library, or what it means to be home. And those are completely tied with our own personal narratives,” said Neveu.

Neveu teaches his students that architects design buildings for the people who use them. In that way, an architect’s job isn’t so different from an author who creates fictional worlds. To do this, they can draw from their own experiences or stories passed down to them. Neveu encourages students to bring their diverse perspectives and lived experiences into their course projects.


A university that scales access to education

An experienced educator, Neveu’s teaching career took him to Canada, Boston and Los Angeles, before finding his current home at ASU. Neveu’s passion for teaching at ASU boils down to the university’s commitment to inclusion and access to education. He often thinks about the scaled impact he can have on ASU students.

While some institutions hold the belief that limiting the number of students accepted into their architecture programs creates excellence, ASU takes a different approach. Instead, ASU focuses on providing educational opportunities to students with the drive to learn. Contrary to other programs that favor exclusivity, ASU’s architecture program has grown from 300 students to nearly 1,000. Neveu is encouraged by ASU’s commitment to breaking down barriers to entry in architecture for passionate learners around the world.

“Here, we’re trying to be inclusive and excellent at the same time,” said Neveu.


Teaching architecture in the digital age

Neveu enjoys teaching online because it allows him to reframe what he thought he knew about architecture pedagogy. Rather than teaching in a studio, online educators use digital tools to meet students where they’re at. Neveu has learned the importance of adapting to new styles of architecture pedagogy, technologies and ways of thinking about architecture. He said that while a steel building may still be a steel building, delivery systems have changed and adapting is critical.

Neveu reflects on the experiences that shaped him as an architecture student. He remembers the impact of working alongside like-minded students in the studio, but knows that collaboration must be made more intentional in online courses. Rather than assigning groups at random, Neveu is thoughtful about how groups collaborate to build a project. While online students are not in the same physical location, technology enables them to talk to each other and share experiences.

According to Neveu, a rewarding and challenging aspect of teaching online courses is the necessary planning. When creating online architecture courses, he’s required to think through the material and learning outcomes ahead of time — a quality Neveu feels helped him become a better professor.


Lifelong learning across all disciplines

Whether you pursue an architecture degree, such as ASU Online's Master of Architecture, or another one of our 300+ degrees and certificates, it’s important to be flexible in your learning style. Technology is constantly evolving, but if you “learn how to learn” as Neveu puts it, you’ll have the tools needed to adapt.

Neveu explained that teaching isn't the job he sought when he got a degree in architecture. However, he's grateful for the opportunities that led him to ASU. He encourages students to be flexible, continue learning and accept that paths aren’t always linear.

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