Karen Fairbanks is a founding partner of Marble Fairbanks and a Professor of Professional Practice and Chair of the Architecture Department at Barnard College. As Department Chair, she oversaw the merger of the Barnard and Columbia architecture programs and has developed the current department curriculum and the digital architecture lab. She teaches architecture design studios and courses on architecture and technology. While at Barnard she has participated in the capital planning of the campus – including service on the Capital Campaign Advisory Committee, the Long Range Capital Planning Committee, the Master Plan committee, the Trustee’s Buildings, Grounds, and Environment Committee, and the Teaching and Learning Center Steering Committee. Karen brings this extensive knowledge of institutional organizations to the work of Marble Fairbanks where she has focused on the design and planning for both public and private educational and cultural clients. Karen has Co-Chaired the NYC AIA Design Awards Committee, has served on the AIA Scholarship Committee, and related to her interest in library design, is currently serving as the Chair of the American Library Association’s Committee on Buildings for College and University Libraries. She has been a juror for architecture awards panels around the country and lectures extensively on the work of the firm.
Karen received her Master of Architecture Degree from Columbia University where she was selected for the SOM Travelling Fellowship, a William Kinne Traveling Fellowship, and the AIA Medal. She received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree from the University of Michigan and was honored by Michigan as the 2013 Distinguished Alumna of Taubman College of Architecture. Prior to forming Marble Fairbanks, she worked on award-winning educational and institutional projects at firms in New York City and Boston. Karen was included in the book The Architect: Women in Contemporary Architecture published by The Images Publishing Group.
Marble Fairbanks is an architecture, design and research office founded in 1992 by Scott Marble and Karen Fairbanks. We are committed to highly innovative design through research and analysis of the core issues surrounding each project. Building on the combined experience of our completed work and ongoing research, we approach every project as unique and search for original solutions. Our continuing connection to academia through teaching and participation in conferences and symposia inspires a creative working environment where theory and practice are informed by each other. Our working process is based on a highly collaborative team approach. Our most recent work has focused on cultural and institutional projects for public and private clients including Princeton University, New York Public Library, Queens Library, Hunter College, Lawrence University, The Museum of Modern Art, The New School, and New York University. Our research-based practice is at the forefront of discussions concerning digital technology, integrated design processes, and education.
Marble Fairbanks was recently awarded an AIA Honor Award in Architecture for the Toni Stabile Student Center at the Graduate School of Journalism, their tenth AIA Award from the New York Chapter. In 2008 Marble Fairbanks was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art to design a speculative project addressing the potentials of digital design and fabrication for the exhibition Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling. Scott Marble and Karen Fairbanks were have been honored as both the Max Fisher Visiting Professors and the Charles and Ray Eames lecturers at the University of Michigan. Their book, Marble Fairbanks: Bootstrapping, was published on the occasion of that event. They were selected as the Michael Owen Jones Memorial Lecturers at the University of Virginia that coincided with the exhibition Expanded Alliances. Marble Fairbanks is the recipient of numerous local, national, and international design awards. The work of Marble Fairbanks is published regularly in books and journals and has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world including the Architectural Association in London, the Nara Prefectural Museum of Art in Japan and the Museum of Modern Art in New York where their drawings are part of the museum’s permanent collection.