August 7, 2013

Contact: Rachel Garrett

Cal Poly College of Architecture & Environmental Design Appoints Interim Architecture Department Head

SAN LUIS OBISPO – Cal Poly’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design has named Margot McDonald, AIA, NCARB, LEED BD+C, interim head of its Architecture Department.

As a Masters in Architecture graduate from the University of Oregon and a licensed architect, she has emphasized teaching students about building energy performance and sustainable design for more than two decades. A professor of architecture at Cal Poly since 1992, McDonald has cultivated a venerable career of teaching, research, and service. She previously served as interim head of the architecture department in 2002-03.

Her accomplishments in leadership roles have centered on campus sustainability, including lead coordination for the UC/CSU/CCC Sustainability Conference at Cal Poly in 2008, serving on the CSU Chancellor’s Office Sustainability Advisory Committee for Education and Research in 2010, and currently chairing the President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee at Cal Poly. She is also a past-president and former board member of the American Solar Energy Society and former national chair for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Formal Education Committee (2006-09). 

Most recently, her teaching has focused on integrated project design in a studio environment that brings together CAED disciplines of architecture, landscape, structural engineering, and construction management, and continues to be active in international education as faculty advisor for architecture students studying design in Denmark and as the Sustainable Environments Minor advisor.

She is the principal author of SEDE – the Sustainable Environmental Design Education Program, a curriculum project for landscape and architecture undergraduate professional education, and she is now leading a team of curriculum advisors on a California Energy Commission grant, “Educational Software for Workforce Development.” Her work has been written about in “Ecological Design and Building Schools” (Leibowitz, 2005) and “Women in Green” (Gould and Hosey, 2007). 

“Rather than looking at issues of the built environment in isolation, my approach to problem solving in environmental design education is to seek opportunities for integration that exist naturally between sustainability, diversity, and interdisciplinary learning,” McDonald said. “I am a proponent of collaboration between internal and external constituencies in order to move us toward a common goal of sustaining healthy environments for people and the planet. I look forward to fostering positive interactions and relationships in support of these objectives in my new role.”

McDonald succeeds outgoing interim department head James Doerfler, who accepted a position as the director of architecture programs of Philadelphia University. His accomplishments include helping to lead professional studios, co-op programs, developing award-winning interdisciplinary design studios, and overseeing the department’s graduate program.


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