JOHN COMAZZI

Associate Professor + Director of Design Thinking, Architecture

Education: University of Michigan: Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Master of Science in Architectural History and Theory; University of Michigan: Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Master of Architecture; University of Virginia: School of Architecture, Bachelor of Science in Architecture


Professor Comazzi’s teaching, research, and scholarship focus on the following areas: mid-century Modern architecture and design; design theory and criticism; architecture photography; the design of active learning environments for PK-12 education; design for healthcare environments; and design-build practices for community development. He is the author a monograph on Balthazar Korab, one of the most prolific and celebrated architecture photographers of the Modern era (Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography, Princeton Architectural Press, 2012), and is currently writing a monograph on the Miller House and Gardens in Columbus, IN (forthcoming from Princeton Architectural Press, 2019).

Professor Comazzi joined the faculty in the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia in the Fall of 2017 as the Director of the Design Thinking Concentration. Hired as part of the University's "Cluster Hiring Initiative," Professor Comazzi has partial appointments in the School of Nursing and the Curry School of Education where he collaborates on interdisciplinary teaching, research, and curriculum development. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Virginia, he held teaching positions at the University of Michigan (Lecturer 1999-2006), and the University of Minnesota (Assistant Professor 2006-2012, Associate Professor with Tenure 2012-2017) where he was the Director of the Undergraduate B.S. Degree Program (Major in Architecture) from 2012-2015.

In addition to his teaching and research, Professor Comazzi has practiced design in architecture and planning firms in the Washington D.C. area, Michigan, and Minnesota, and has directed numerous Design-Build projects with architecture and landscape students in Michigan and Minnesota. Professor Comazzi is currently a member (and Secretary) of the Board of Directors for the Association of Architecture Organizations (AAO).

Professor Comazzi has received numerous grants and awards in the support of his research and scholarship including two Individual Grants from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts (2011 and 2016), an Access to Artistic Excellence Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (2009), and a resident fellowship from the Bogliasco Foundation (Fall 2017). His monograph on Balthazar Korab was named one of nine "Best Architecture Books of 2012" by The Guardian UK, and one of 20 "Michigan Notable Books of 2013" by the State Library of Michigan.

PUBLICATIONS

2019         The Miller House and Gardens: A Biography of Modern Living, (currently under contract with Princeton Architectural Press, anticipated release date, 2019).

2018         “The Florence Flood and Its Aftermath: The Photography of Balthazar Korab,” in The Flood in Florence, 1966 (University of Michigan Publishing, forthcoming fall 2018), ed. Paul Conway. Book Chapter.

2016          “Balthazar Korab: Photographing Michigan’s Modern Legacy,” in Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America, (Gibbs Smith Publishers, 2016). ISBN 9781423644972

2014          "Material Science," Architecture Minnesota, vol. 40, no. 01, Jan|Feb 2014, pp. 40-45, 52.

2012          Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography, (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). ISBN-13: 978-1616890414

Named one of nine "Best Architecture Books of 2012" by The Guardian UK, and one of 20 "Michigan Notable Books of 2012," by the State Library of Michigan. 

2012          Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies: Lafayette Park, Detroit, by Aubert, D.; Cavar, L.; and Chandani, N., eds., (London: Metropolis Books and Thames & Hudson, 2012), ISBN-10: 1935202928. Role: contributed original photography including cover image.

2012          "Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography," Architecture Minnesota, vol. 38, no. 05, Sept|Oct 2012, pp. 42-47, 56, 59. (excerpt from the book Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography, by John Comazzi)

2012          "Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography," Modernism Magazine, vol. 15, no. 03, Fall 2012, pp. 34-43. (Original text)

2009          “Balthazar Korab,” EXIT No. 36 Architecture: The Professional View, November 2009, pp. 96-101.  ISSN 1577272-1

2008          Isfahan and its Palaces: Statecraft, Shi'ism and the Architecture of Conviviality in Early Modern Iran, by Sussan Babaie, Edinburgh University Press, 2008.  ISBN 978-0-7486-3375-3.  Role: Illustrator and artistic director for interpretive drawings and analytical diagrams (with Sam Zeller).  This book was the recipient of the Houshang Pourshariati Iranian Studies Book Award in 2009.

2008                   “Performance and Architecture: A Review of the Walker Art Center and the Tyrone Guthrie Theater,” in Journal of Architectural Education: Performance/Architecture, Vol. 61, Issue 04, May 2008, pp. 131-135. Blackwell Publishing, Inc., ISSN 1046-4883, (I also supplied the images used for this essay).

2006          “(re) Moving History: The Statue Park in Budapest Hungary,” MONU-Magazine on Urbanism #05: Brutal Urbanism, Kassel Germany: University of Kassel, July, 2006, pp. 69-73.  ISBN: 3-89117-160-9. 


EXHIBITIONS

2016          “Balthazar Korab – i giorni dell’Alluvione (the days of the flood),” Tethys Gallery, Florence, Italy, October 28 – November 26, 2016. Role: Co-curator and author of interpretive text.

2015          “Inflected Modernism: Architecture Through the Lens of Balthazar Korab,” The Dallas Center for Architecture, Dallas, TX, September 25 – December 03, 2015. Role: Co-curator and author of interpretive text.

2014          “Balthazar Korab’s Inflected Modernism,” The Cliff Dwellers Club, Chicago, IL, June 24 – July 26, 2014. Role: Co-curator and author of interpretive text.

2013          “Circumstantial Evidence: Italy Through the Lens of Balthazar Korab,” HGA Gallery – University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, Oct 2012 – Jan 2013. Role: Co-curator and author of interpretive text.

2012          “Balthazar Korab: A Career Retrospective,” Lawrence Technological University, School of Architecture (with AIA Michigan), Southfield, MI, March 15, 2012. Role: Curator and author of interpretive content.

2011          “Modernism at Risk / Michigan Matters,” Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Ann Arbor, MI, March 16–April 20, 2011.  An exhibition organized by the University of Michigan, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and the World Monuments Fund (WMF).  Role: Contributor to interpretive content on the photography of Balthazar Korab.

2010          “Balthazar Korab & Eero Saarinen,” Virka Galleria, Helsinki, Finland, March – April, 2010.  Role: Contributed interpretive content on the photography of Balthazar Korab and assisted with curatorial image selection.

2010          “Inflected Modernism: The Architecture Photography of Balthazar Korab,” University of Wisconsin, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Milwaukee, WI, January 29 – February 27, 2010.  Role: Curator and author of interpretive content.

2008          “The Saarinen Legacy: Photographs by Balthazar Korab,” Minneapolis Central Public Library, Minneapolis, MN

Oct 6 – Nov 23, 2008. Role:  Co-curator (with Balthazar and Christian Korab) and exhibition designer (with Adam Jarvi).

FUNDED RESEARCH

2017-20     “Educational Design,” $190,930. Funded by the Curry School of Education Investment Support Funds. Role: Project Collaborator (with Project Manager, Jennifer Chiu, PhD., Associate Professor Curry School of Education, et al).

2016          “The Miller House and Gardens: A Biography of Modern Living” $7,500.  Production Grant to Individuals, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.  One of 59 grants awarded from a pool of over 500 applicants.

2016          "Design-Build: Heritage Lab Learning Pavilions," $100,000. Co-funded by State of Minnesota-Clean Water, Land and Legacy Program; Anoka County Parks and Recreation; YMCA-Greater Twin Cities; and Connexus Energy. Role: Project Director and Principal Investigator, 2015 - 2016.

2015          "Design-Build Workshop," $9500. Funded by the School of Architecture Seed Grant, 2015-16

2015          “L’Aqua Alta: A Photography Exhibition Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the 1966 Florence Flood,” $5,000.  Funded by the Imagine Fund: Arts & Humanities Faculty Awards, University of Minnesota..

2013          “The Miller House: A Model of Collaborative Design,” $22,194.  Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry and Scholarship, University of Minnesota.

2012-13     “Design Lab for Educators.” $31,135. Funded by the College of Design - Faculty Research and Outreach Grants and the College Readiness Consortium – University of Minnesota. Role: Project Director and Principal Investigator. Collaborators: Kristen Murray (Research Assistant) and Molly Gordon, PhD. (program evaluator). Fall 2012 – Fall 2013

2011          “Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography” $7,500.  Production Grant to Individuals, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.  One of 69 grants awarded from a pool of over 500 applicants.

2010-11     “Design for Education: Developing a Framework for College Readiness,” $25,100.  College Readiness Consortium, University of Minnesota.

2010          “Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography,” $7,000.  Faculty Research Grant, Metropolitan Design Center, University of Minnesota.

2010          “Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography” $4,000.  Imagine Fund: Arts & Humanities Faculty Awards, University of Minnesota.

2009          “Design Camp for Educators,” $25,000.  National Endowment for the Arts – Access to Artistic Excellence Grant. Role: Project Director (with W. Friedmeyer, Project Coordinator)

2009          “Summer Design Lab: Teaching through Design,” $10,000.  Design Institute Grants for Exceptional Innovation, College of Design, University of Minnesota.

2008          “Design Camp for Educators 2008,” $9,000.  Edina Public School System and Highlands Elementary PTA (with Wendy Friedmeyer, Jamie Johansen and Peter Hodne)

2007-08     “Parallel Play-Design + Education,” $20,000.  College of Design: New Initiatives Funding, University of Minnesota (with Janet Abrams and Wendy Friedmeyer).

2007          “School Buildings-The State of Affairs,” $7,500.  SHARE-Boston (Swiss House for Advanced Research and Education).  Consulate of Switzerland, Boston, Massachusetts. awarded October, 2007.

2007          “The Architectural Eye of Balthazar Korab,” $6,000.  Dayton Hudson Faculty Fellowship, Metropolitan Design Center, University of Minnesota.

2007-08     “The Projective Eye of Balthazar Korab,” $11,600.  Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry and Scholarship, University of Minnesota, awarded January, 2007.


Select HONORS / AWARDS / FELLOWSHIPS: Academic

2017                   Bogliasco Residential Fellowship – Fondazione Bogliasco, Bogliasco, Italy. In residence October 16 – November 17, 2017. Fellowship Topic: “The Miller House and Gardens: A Biography of Modern Living”

2017                   Achievement Award - The National Association of Counties (NACo): “Anoka County/University of Minnesota Design/Build Collaboration” in the category of Parks and Recreation.

2011                   Outstanding Faculty Outreach Award.  College of Design, University of Minnesota.

2010-11              Faculty Fellow – College Readiness Consortium, University of Minnesota, 2010-2011. Research Topic: “Design for Education: Developing a Framework for College Readiness.” 

2009                   AIA Architectural Education Award: “Remediation as Urban Catalyst: A Collaborative Reworking of post-Industrial Landscapes,” (with Lance Neckar and Vince deBritto)

2008                   AIA Architectural Education Award: “An Incomplete Curriculum for Change” (with Renee Cheng, Ritu Bhatt, Ozayr Saloojee and Marc Swackhamer)


Select HONORS / AWARDS: Creative work and scholarship

2012          Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography named one of nine "Best Architecture Books of 2012," The Guardian UK

2012          Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography named one of 20 "Michigan Notable Books of 2012," State Library of Michigan 

2011          First Place, Portland Water Tower Redesign Competition.  Merge Studio+ Lab, Portland, OR.  First place in open, international design competition for the redesign of decommissioned water towers in Portland (with G. Wilkins).

2005          ACSA Faculty Design Awards, Annual Conference, MIM: Mies in Michigan, selected for Award and Presentation (with G. Wilkins and A. Canfora)