Professor Marcelo Stamm has joined Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies in its National Capital Region, where he will support Dean Richard Blythe on strategic college initiatives to advance the university’s global land-grant mission and vision.

Stamm’s first major project is the development of a multidisciplinary, practice-based Ph.D. program. The program – a unique opportunity in the U.S. – aims to more thoroughly engage the university in collaborative and mutually beneficial research with established international architects, designers, and other institutions of higher learning. It would enroll Ph.D. candidates who are established in their careers.

Based at the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center (WAAC), the program capitalizes on its location in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area as an epicentre for research, design, policy, international innovation, and collaboration. After initial launch of the practice-based Ph.D. in architecture and design, Blythe hopes to expand it to other college disciplines, including construction, public and international affairs, and visual arts.

“Our goal is to take practice-based research to the next level at Virginia Tech and to explore its game-changing implications for the shattering of walls between academia and the world of practice at-large,” Stamm said. “In the words of philosopher-mathematician Alfred Whitehead, ‘The justification for a university is that it preserves the connection between knowledge and the zest of life, by uniting the young and the old in the imaginative consideration of learning.’ I cannot think of a better way to capture the fundamental premise of what the university should be. The two spaces of pedagogy (teaching and learning) and inquiry (research) need to be understood as one continuous and collective space of learning, with practice as the hinge that holds those parts together. This is the vision of practice research that I would like to bring to Virginia Tech.”

In his previous role as a professor, deputy dean, and director of the European Practice Research Symposium of RMIT Melbourne, Stamm worked with Blythe to launch the RMIT’s practice-based Ph.D., which achieved extraordinary recognition and influence throughout Europe. Initially funded by a €4.3M (approximately $4.8 million U.S.) ADAPTr grant award from the European Union, the program’s final report was fully endorsed by the EU’s European Commission.

Stamm helped forge partnerships with universities, including KU Leuven, Glasgow School of Art, Westminster University, Estonian Academy for the Arts, Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Innsbruck, and TU Berlin. The program has produced a number of distinguished graduates, including Professor CJ Lim, University College London; Professor John Brown, University of Calgary, Canada; Thierry Kandjee and Sebastien Penfornis, of the landscape architecture practice TAKTYK, Paris and Brussels; Steve Larkin, Steve Larkin Architects, Ireland; and Lucas Devriendt, painter, University of Ghent.

“It’s an honor to join Virginia Tech’s world-renowned architecture and design faculty, alumni, and industry partners to develop a new and nation-leading practice-based stream augmenting our existing Ph.D. programs,” Stamm said. “We have received expressions of interest in this new research model from some of the most distinguished and celebrated creative practitioners in the Americas. We aim to forge new international alliances and partnerships.”

A trained philosopher who spent part of his early childhood in South America, Stamm speaks five languages and was educated in Munich and Oxford. He received a master’s, doctorate, and second higher doctorate (the German Habilitation) from Munich University LMU.

Stamm brings three decades of work in the area of philosophical constellation research, philosophy of creativity, and creativity research to the contemporary study of creative practice. After an assistant professorship at Munich University and his German Habilitation in 2003, Stamm became head of the School of Philosophy at the University of Tasmania and served as director of the Creativity Research Project at the Australian Innovation Research Centre (AIRC) from 2010-2011. In 2012, he was appointed Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow at RMIT Melbourne, and from 2014 through 2017, he headed the Research & Innovation portfolio at the RMIT School of Architecture and Design. From 2013 until his appointment at Virginia Tech, Stamm also acted as the director of RMIT's European Practice Research Symposium.

Since his move to the U.S. in August, Stamm has worked steadfastly to get Virginia Tech’s practice-based Ph.D. off the ground. In November 2018, he convened a three-day international conference with 160 delegates at the WAAC, uniting Virginia Tech faculty and students with 25 leading international design practitioners and more than 60 professionals from the private and public sectors for a “festival of ideas” around the practice-based Ph.D. model.

“Stamm brings to Virginia Tech extraordinary international experience in the area of practice-based research,” Blythe said. “His philosophical research into and understanding of constellational creativity will be an important asset in the development of creativity and innovation at VT. Stamm’s ability to see into new kinds of knowledge ecologies will provide important insight in VT’s Beyond Boundaries vision to transform VT into a global land-grant institution of the future.”