Mark West received his practical education working as a builder, and his professional architectural education at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science, where he graduated in 1980. He has studied post-professionally in the areas of cultural studies, at The University of California Santa Cruz, and architecture at Carleton University.
He has taught architecture at a number of universities throughout North America since 1981, while working as an artist, inventor, and independent researcher. His inventions of flexible formworks for reinforced concrete construction have been central to establishing this as a new field of architectural and construction research. He is the Founding Director of C.A.S.T., the Centre for Architectural Structures and Technology, at the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg MB) where he is an Associate Professor of Architecture.
His work merges the disciplines of sculpture, architectural design, structural engineering and drawing, and has received wide recognition through publications, awards, lectures and exhibitions in North America, Asia, and Europe.
Mark West is internationally recognized as the inventor of numerous methods for casting concrete structures in flexible formworks. His first experiments in this area (1986) have led to a series of full-scale constructions of fabric-formed structures in Canada, the United States, Chile, and Puerto Rico. This technical research has been accompanied by exhibitions of drawings, photographs, and built installations exploring the future of architectural design. His research has been widely published and presented to architectural, civil engineering, and construction industry conferences internationally.
His research has led to a growing network of associated research projects around the world.
The invention of sustainable construction techniques, concentrating on providing methods of design and construction that reduce the amount of material consumed in concrete construction. These include:
Design research in the architectural application of these new construction techniques.
Design and construction research in fabric-formed concrete architecture and construction in collaboration with the School of Architecture and Design of the Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, and the Ciudad Abierta ("Open City") in Ritoque, Chile.
Through these projects Professor West continues the artistic practice upon which his technical research is founded.
His research has received financial support from The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, The Canada Foundation for Innovation, The Manitoba Innovation Fund, The Canada Council on the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Canadian Precast Concrete Institute, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., and other government, corporate and arts funding agencies.
Mark West has taught architecture since 1981. Besides his current position at the University of Manitoba, he has held faculty appointments at the University of Kentucky, Carleton University, The Collage of the Atlantic, and as a visiting professor at The University of Texas at Austin, and as a visiting critic at many schools of architecture around the world. He has co-directed several study-abroad programs for Universities in the U.S. and Canada, and has traveled extensively as visitor, lecturer, and guest critic at architecture schools around the world.
Prof. West has been instrumental in developing innovative design studio teaching methods that merge technical and design studies. His publications on design studio education include an award winning article published in the Journal of Architectural Education (May 2001): Construction - Research - Design - Invention: Elastic Behavior in a Moist Environment.
Since 1984 Mark West's drawings and sculptures have been exhibited internationally, including public sculptures in New York NY, Bar Harbor ME, Tallahassee FL, Ottawa, Canada, and a one-person show at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York. His most recent exhibitions include shows of photographs and fabric forms at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Gallery, London, England (2002), drawings and photographs at the Eric Arthur Gallery, in Toronto Ontario (2002), and fabric formed beams at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. (2004-2005).