Caroline O'Donnell

Caroline O'Donnell is the Edgar A. Tafel Professor of Architecture and former Chair of the Department of Architecture at Cornell University. Her research and teaching areas are in ecological design and theory.

She is a licensed architect, sole principal of CODA, and winner of MoMA/PS1's Young Architects Program in 2013 with the project Party Wall. Recent projects include an inclusive addition to the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, Valentine Student Housing, and REACH Supportive Housing in Ithaca, New York. 

O'Donnell also leads the Ecological Action Lab, which experiments with nose-to-tail practices, novel materials, and the reimagining of the function of objects. Recent projects include Friendship WC, a water and plastic bottle chandelier for the 2022 Tallinn Biennial, Primitive Hut and Evitim, two pavilions at Art Omi, New York, in collaboration with OMG, using biodegradable, living, and leftover materials. 

O'Donnell was the editor of the Cornell Journal of Architecture issues 8–10 and the founding editor of Pidgin magazine. Publications include: Niche Tactics: Generative Relationships between Architecture and Site, Routledge (2015), This Is Not A Wall, Ed. Caroline O’Donnell and Steven Chodoriwsky, AAP/Actar, (2017). The Architecture of Waste: Design for a Circular Economy: Ed. Caroline O’Donnell and Dillon Pranger, Routledge (2019), and Werewolf: The Architecture of Lunacy, Shapeshifting, and Material Metamorphosis, Caroline O’Donnell and José Ibarra, AR+D/ORO Publications (2022).

O'Donnell has previously taught at Harvard GSD and at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union. From Northern Ireland, she received her B.Arch. (specialization in bioclimatics) from the Manchester School of Architecture, England, where she won the Heywood Medal; and her M.Arch.II from Princeton University, where she was the recipient of the Suzanne Kolarik Underwood Prize.


Academic Research/Specialty Areas

  • Architectural practice 
  • Sustainability

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Classes (Selected)

  • ARCH 5101 Option Studio: PiecelinesAdvanced programs in architectural design, with options in, but not limited to, urban design, architectural technology, computational design, ecology, culture, and representation.
  • ARCH 3101 Third Year Comprehensive Design StudioDesign and development of complex architectural projects situated in urban contexts and developed with regard to program, site, building, and representation.
  • ARCH 4500 B./M.Arch. Seminar Sojourns: Rethinking the PublicationFor description, see ARCH 4300.
  • ARCH 3/6309 B./M.Arch. Seminar: Perceptual Genius: Experiencing Architecture from the Eye to the MindExamination of Japanese architecture (buildings and gardens) and their contexts: landscapes, settlements, and cities. The course is addressed to those interested in Japanese architecture as a manifestation of Japanese culture and as a subject for analysis. Emphasis is on underlying concepts, ordering principles, formal typologies, space and its representation, perceptual phenomena, and symbolic content. Readings focus on theoretical treatments of these aspects by Japanese and western writers.
  • ARCH 3/6308 B./M.Arch. Seminar: Unideal: Deviations from the Architecture of the IdealThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to the subject of Theory of Architecture. The instructor(s) of the course are drawn from the permanent and visiting faculty who may either broadly or narrowly define the course's scope and content. For precise content, please see the Architecture Department webpage.

Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • 2017 NEXUS-NY grant recipient (with Martin Miller)
  • 2016 Cornell Council for the Arts 2016 Biennial winner for Urchin Pavilion
  • 2015 Pelli Clarke Pelli Fellowship 2015-2016 at the MacDowell Colony
  • 2015 AIA Peconic Jury Award for unbuilt work (Bahai Temple, in collaboration with Maziar Behrooz).
  • 2013 Winner, PS1/MoMA Young Architects’ Program (Party Wall).
  • Urban Punc., Europan 10 Competition, Leisnig with Troy Schaum, second prize (2010)
  • 2007 Fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany (2008, 2009)
  • Suzanne Kolarik Underwood Prize, Princeton University (2006)
  • Projectsubsidie, Fonds BKVB, Netherlands and Arts Council of Ireland Grant (2004)

Exhibitions and Presentations (Selected)

  • Self-Consuming, Tjaden Experimental Gallery, Cornell University (2010)
  • Bloodline, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany (2009)
  • The 13th Villa, Emerging Talents, Emerging Technologies; World Art Museum, Architecture Biennial, Beijing, selected exhibitor, Princeton University (2006)

Publications (Selected)

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