Profile picture of Mary Polites

Mary Polites

Visiting Assistant Professor
Office: 263 Onyx Bridge
Research Interests: Computational, Digital Fabrication, Material Systems, Living Systems
B.Arch at the New Jersey Institute of Technology
M.Arch at the Architectural Association (UK) 
Mary Polites has 15 years of experience predominantly with international offices such as Foster + Partners in New York, Venturi Scott Brown & Associates in Philadelphia, Martha Schwartz Partners in London and China and MUDI-Asia in Shanghai. Her background is in architecture with additional professional experience in urban and landscape design. She has taught at Washington State University at the Pullman campus, Tongji University at the Design and Innovation College in Shanghai China. She has led international workshops for the Turenscape Academy in Huangshan, the AA Visiting School’s in Xixinan, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guatemala.
She has worked on several master planning projects for CBD districts ranging from 80,000 sm to extensive leisure parks of over 60 hectares. She has worked with Fortune 500 firms including Hyatt Hotels, Microsoft, Alibaba, Dalian Wanda Group and Vanke. 
As an educator for environmental design, she has contributed to developing projects with systemic thinking and computational design. Many of these projects were in the context of Asia, where the concept of sustainability defines a new identity for clients and creates a unique experience for the public. She has worked with environmental researchers in developing methods that explore how, biomimetics, LCA (Life Cycle Assessment), and  GIGA can be incorporated into design work flow. Her recent book The Rise of Biodesign is a discussion focusing on the development of biological design and its environmental ethos within China. 

The Rise of Biodesign

This book was edited by MAPS director Mary Polites in 2019 as a result of three years of research and collaboration with experts and institutions focusing on nature-inspired design in China.  It aims to serve as an introduction to the umbrella term of bioinspired design, and explain the similarities and dissimilarities between its different specializations, from biomimetics to biomimicry. Bioinspiration is a broad field that encompasses many facets of biology, engineering and design. The research and development of materials, systems and techniques based on natural phenomena is considered one of the main contributors for innovation in applied sciences, and a critical driver for future advances in sustainability. Bio labs from some of the top universities in China were invited to exhibit their work for this book, namely the Key Laboratory of Bionic Engineering from Jilin University, the Key Laboratory of Bioinspired Smart Interfacial Science and Technology from Beihang University, the Dynamic Technology Lab for Bionic Materials and Structures from Donghua University, and the Biomimetic Design Lab (BiDL), from Tongji University.


New Ruralism - AAVS Xixinan 2017

Within the context of China’s urbanization, the residual status of Rural China is the theme of AAVS Xixinan. Hosted in an exceptionally beautiful heritage village, Xixinan, located near the Huangshan Mountains in Anhui Province, China, this experiment shuns nostalgia, sentimentality and the tendency to lament the perceived loss of the rural. The propensity to retreat from urbanization, industrialisation and globalisation, endeavouring the resuscitation of an absent past no longer fully nor ubiquitously present. This 9-day workshop takes on the urgency of issues within an increasingly Urban China, which effect the entire country as much as the whole world: Migration, social change, inequity; food and energy supply; agriculture, industry and habitation; and, ecological resilience and sustainability. As such, the verdict for culpability for the causes of the complex contemporary status of the rural does not point towards the technological apparatus of urbanization. In AAVS Xixinan, advanced sensing, simulation, data processing and design technologies will serve merely the agency with which to propose innovative alternatives to longstanding global problematics.