Architect, masterplanner, professor, artist, and advocate, Marie S.A. Sorensen, AIA NCARB LEED AP seeks out gaps in institutional knowledge, mindset, and process and proactively and interactively collects, structures, and shares designs and insights to change the physical and psychological shape of communities. Marie founded Cambridge, MA-based Sorensen Partners | Architects + Planners, Inc. in 2012 to work with complex knowledge- and mission-driven organizations interested in the possibility of architecture to shape and inspire evolved institutional culture.
At Sorensen Partners, Marie is lead designer, technical architect and masterplanner for aesthetically groundbreaking new buildings and spaces for public use: higher education and K-12 education, including libraries; classrooms; recreation; housing; and dining; commercial hospitality, restaurant and retail; corporate work, lab and production environments; and transit-oriented masterplanned parks, building complexes, and outdoor recreation sites. Marie is committed to discovering and applying new knowledge about behavioral psychology, physiology, and organizational theory to design work – and equally to designing resource-efficient durable buildings with both ‘passive’ sustainable design and advanced material and operational technologies. Sorensen Partners’ office is a member of one of the most information-rich future-thinking university communities in the world; as citizens, we contribute to the learning and growth of a shared, conscious, and generous institutional and public life.
Marie’s design, research, and teaching leadership focus in five areas: (1) information-enriched academic, workspace, and recreation environments; (2) ‘passive’ sustainable design and building science technology; (3) historic preservation and adaptive re-use of existing buildings and neighborhoods; (4) sculptural and photographic experiments in form and message; and (5) teaching architecture and planning at the university level.
(1) Information-enriched academic, workspace, and recreation environments. A pioneer in the design and conception of future academic libraries and other information-enriched work and recreation environments, Marie is leader of the ‘Knowledge Constellation’ research project, a multi-institutional team of academic librarians and designers formulating and prototyping new architectures and interfaces for information discovery joining digital and physical formats and needs; the results of the collaboration’s initial workshop, sponsored by Georgia Tech in 2016, are pending publication. Marie was keynote speaker at the Association of College and Research Libraries New England Chapter (ACRL NEC) Conference in 2015, presenting ‘The History and Future of Collaboration.’ She is author of the ‘Afterword’ for the second edition of Forrest & Halbert’s A Field Guide to Information Commons: Beyond the Information Commons (Scarecrow Press), and is a member, programming contributor and past presenter of BWIN (Boston Women in Information Network). Marie’s challenging of institutional convention led to a 2009 win of the Columbia University-sponsored Imagining Recovery Competition with a proposal for ‘Six New Professions for the New Economy.’ The ‘New Professions,’ ranging from the ‘Sprawl Broker’ to the ‘Commons Banker,’ ‘Land Diplomat,’ and ‘Change Agent,’ address the agency of people and institutions in creating built-environment frameworks that shape our environment.
(2) ‘Passive’ sustainable design and building science technology. ‘Passive’ sustainable building design and the deployment of durable long-term architectural materials and technologies is a mission of Marie’s firm, building on her experience as a teaching assistant and lab instructor for the UC Berkeley building science curriculum; contributing researcher to Dr. Gail Brager’s ‘Mixed-Mode Case Study Database’; and Adjunct Professor in building science at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Marie has extensive experience acting as project architect to coordinate engineering disciplines in both new work and complex renovations – beginning early in the conceptual and schematic phases to conceive the most resource-conservative and operationally consistent systems possible and to evolve building and space massing to achieve optimal building systems goals. Marie is a member and programming contributor to the Boston Society of Architects’ Building Enclosure Council.
(3) Historic preservation and adaptive re-use of existing buildings and neighborhoods. Marie’s architectural and masterplanning work are grounded in an interest in understanding the cultural, social and architectural characteristics and value of existing buildings and neighborhoods and promoting regional development that acknowledges community history and values and promotes sustainable connectedness. Marie founded Sorensen Partners | Architects + Planners in Lawrence, MA, and continues to be involved in providing professional services and advice to members of this and other underserved industrial communities. She has served on the AIA Massachusetts Government Affairs Committee, participating in the formulation of regional planning tools and concepts.
Marie is an advocate for the conservation of large-scale industrial buildings and significant works of modern architecture. As a board member and content coordinator of the New England chapter of docomomo-US, an international modern architecture education and advocacy organization, Marie developed and led tours to Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and the greater Boston area, expanding the chapter’s membership and influence base, and created a steady and well-attended speaker series featuring the region’s experts on Modern-era urban design and architecture. Marie’s advocacy work facilitated the listing of Araldo Cossutta’s Christian Science Center as a City of Boston Landmark in 2013.
In 2006, Marie received the UC Berkeley John K. Branner Fellowship to research adaptive re-use of large-scale industrial buildings and sites; she reported on fifty-five buildings in twelve countries in an illustrated and indexed case study database and published two peer-reviewed articles for the RISD Journal Int|AR – Interventions in Adaptive Re-Use.
(4) Sculptural and photographic experiments in form and message. Marie’s sculptural and photographic artistic studio practice, Art-I-Fact-re, is the recent recipient of a Chalk Hill Artist Residency (in Healdsburg, CA) and a commission from the Mystic River Watershed Association to design a public promoting science and history learning, presently under consideration by the NEA. Marie’s sculptural form-making experiments inform her tactile model-making building design approach.
(5) Teaching architecture and planning at the university level. As a professor of architecture, Sorensen led and authored the curriculum for the Graduate Architecture Thesis Studio at Massachusetts College of Art & Design; taught history and theory of architecture (1850-1932) at Norwich University; led undergraduate design studio and team-taught building science lecture course at Wentworth Institute of Technology; and was a teaching assistant for the building science curriculum at UC Berkeley. Marie has been a visiting critic at the University of California Berkeley, the University of Maryland, and Wentworth. As a university professor, Marie strives to embody the experimental, questioning and curiosity-driven approach she practices in her firm. Working as a university professor directly informs Marie’s understanding of the opportunities and challenges of designing educational environments.
Marie’s design, research, and teaching leadership in these five areas address the needs of complex knowledge and mission-driven communities and institutions whose members are clients and colleagues. In collaboration with her clients, her firm, and her engineer partners, Marie uses analytical, planning, architectural, artistic, pedagogical, and diplomatic approaches to provoke, discover, debate, and shape the architectural, social, and physiological infrastructure of organizations and public life.
UC, Berkeley – Master of Architecture, Master of City & Regional Planning (urban design) – 2007
Yale University – B.A., Art (honors) – B.A., Anthropology – 2000
/ Professional Licenses & Accreditations
/ Licensed Architect – Massachusetts #50435; New York #038817; New Jersey #21AI01980200; Maine #ARC4124; New Hampshire #4410; Rhode Island #ARC.005047, Connecticut #13479, and Wisconsin #12984-5.
/ NCARB – Certificate number 74020
/ LEED Accredited Professional – US Green Building Council (USGBC)
/ Professional Experience
2012 – Present – Sorensen Partners | Architects + Planners – Cambridge
2011 – 2012 – Ann Beha Architects – Boston
2010 – 2011 – EYP, Inc. – Boston
2007 – 2009 – Gelfand Partners Architects – San Francisco
2005 – San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department
2004 – Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz Architects – San Francisco
/ Professional & Board Affiliations
/ American Institute of Architects (AIA) & Boston Society of Architects (BSA) – Member (2012-2016, 2021-Present)
/ ArchitectureBoston (AB) Magazine – Editorial Board Member (2013-2016)
/ AIA Massachusetts Government Affairs Committee (2013-2016)
/ Docomomo-US/New England Chapter – Board Member & Content Coordinator (2010-Present)
/ BWIN – Boston Women in Information Network – Member & Presenter (2013-Present)
/ Essex Art Center – Lawrence, MA – Board Member & Art Instructor (2014-2016)
/ Selected Research, Awards & Publications
/ 2020 – Sorensen, Marie. ‘Afterword: Designing for Laughter, Seven Concepts for Inventing the Future of Academic Communities’ In Beyond the Information Commons: A Field Guide to Evolving Library Services, Technologies and Spaces, ed. Charles G. Forrest & Martin Halbert. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
/ 2018 – Sorensen, Marie. ‘Digital Discovery and Architectural Interface Design: Prototyping Architectural-Scale Interfaces for Discovery Across Digital and Tangible Collections,’ Journal of Library Administration, 58:7, 698-727, DOI: 10.1080/01930826.2018.1514842
/ 2017 – Distinguished Visiting Fellow – University of California, Berkeley – College of Environmental Design
/ 2016 – AIA Young Architects Award 2016 – Nominee of the Boston Society of Architects Board of Directors
/ 2016 – ‘Figural Identity in Adaptive Re-Use: Preserved, New and Hybrid’ – Int|AR Vol. 7 – RISD
/ 2015 – Keynote Speaker – ‘The History and Future of Collaboration’ – Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) New England Chapter Conference
/ 2015 – Panelist – ‘Sanctioning Modernism’ Symposium – Norwich University, VT
/ 2015 – Speaker – ‘Vermont’s Rural Modernism’ – docomomo-US Symposium
/ 2013 – ArchitectureBoston Magazine – Book Review – ‘Architecture Depends’ by Jeremy Till
/ 2011 – ‘Human, Machine, Structure: Dynamic Continuities’ – Int|AR Vol. 2 – RISD
/ 2010 – ‘Care, Exigency & Opportunity in Re-Use of Industrial Buildings and Sites’ – BSA HRC
/ 2009 – Winner, Columbia U. Imagining Recovery Competition – jurors Bernard Tschumi & Barry Bergdoll
/ 2007 – ‘The Miner’s Landscape: Design of a Therapeutic Environment’ – Thesis, UC Berkeley
/ 2006 – John K. Branner Traveling Fellowship – UC Berkeley Department of Architecture
/ 2005 – Center for the Built Environment, UC Berkeley, ‘Mixed-Mode Case Study Database’
/ Teaching Appointments
/ Adjunct Professor, Norwich University – Northfield, Vermont – School of Architecture (2015-2016)
/ Visiting Assistant Professor, MassArt – Graduate Program, Architecture Thesis (2012-2013)
/ Adjunct Professor, Wentworth – Undergraduate Program, Architecture (2012-2013)
/ Teaching Assistant, UC Berkeley – Energy & Environment (core building science course) (2004-2005)
English & Spanish