Living, Impactful Design:
MAF 2023 Scholarship Winner
Marcus Puste


Graduate architecture student and MAF scholarship winner (and son of Romanian immigrant parents) Marcus Puste did not immediately recognize architecture as a future objective. “All I knew was I was meant to make,” said Marcus. “To create is in our family’s roots: my father is a musician, videographer, and tile setter; my mother is a fashion designer and craftswoman; and my grandfather, a carpenter.”

He continues, “It wasn’t until the end of high school and early college that I recognized the built environment as my domain. It took many synergies and forms throughout my lifetime to align in this direction, including my interactions with Lego blocks, model planes, hand sketching, music, videography, and construction.”

Marcus, a graduate architecture student at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture and Community Development (UDM SACD) is the 2023 recipient of MAF’s Leslie Tincknell Scholarship. Marcus was cited by the MAF scholarship jury for his outstanding academic record and wide-ranging design impact, as well as his promising portfolio.

“Being a MAF scholarship recipient is most definitely a blessing—as if the cherry on top of the degree,” said Marcus. “For me, it meant a promise and sign to pursue further investment in our built environment—a positive change we all invest in. Thanks to the Michigan Architectural Foundation contributors, that milestone and my education are possible.”

What Marcus most enjoys about the UDM SACD architectural program is the community, including the connectedness among peers, alumni, professors, and other architects and firms. “My academic program is an enriching experience with access to numerous key resources,” he says. “The prominence of the student’s voice is also encouraged through student-led organizations and activities. I currently serve as Graphic Design Director for SACD’s Dichotomy Student Journal, and will continue to do so throughout the remainder of my graduate studies.”

Among the things that Marcus loves most about architecture are the variety and mediums of design. “As designers, we are not merely limited to designing livable, built enclosures; all negative space and everything in between is at our fingertips,” he says. “We have the ability to express ideas, faith, and memories through forms, graphic design, furniture design, and more, beyond the power of pen and paper and getting our hands dirty. Not only are we writers and visionaries, we are also craftsmen.”

As part of the MAF Scholarship application process, students must include a design portfolio. Marcus submitted selected favorite works from his undergraduate program, professional experience, competitions, and extracurricular activities. Among them: a public interest design initiative for a Detroit community, and a high-performance, integrative office design which received a design excellence award. Students also are required to include a personal statement describing their interest, experience, and plans related to architecture, as well as information on their leadership and extracurricular activities.

“Thanks to the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture & Community Development, I have developed values and interests in community-driven and green design, with an aspiration for creating living buildings and sustainable LEED interventions,” said Marcus. “Anyone can make a building, but few can make it alive and self-sufficient. Upon completion of my Master of Architecture degree (in 2024), I am pursuing licensure and seeking international practice with the scope of living and impactful design.”

He continues, “Outside academia, I have developed architectural roots in Detroit, proudly working as an architectural intern for INTOTO Studio (a black-owned firm) and Studio Detroit. Aside from office experience, you will find me in the SACD’s Material Investigation Lab, specializing in wood and steel fabrication processes as a shop assistant.”

Marcus is also heavily involved in the audio and video industry, leading and volunteering in broadcasting services for the Metro Detroit Romanian Church Community, and making music for cinema as a side project. When not on campus, he enjoys woodworking craftsmanship.

Michigan Architectural Foundation’s mission is to advance awareness of how architecture enriches life. How does Marcus think architecture enriches life?

“Architecture is the essence of life, defining who we are and where we come from,” he says. “Some would argue we are the outcome of our home: where we are born and raised. As we invest in this (architecture) profession, we are investing in something more significant than the needs of the status quo; we contribute to cultures to come—our future’s way of life.

Marcus continues, “As architects Peter Zumthor and Juhani Pallasmaa describe, we design volumes in which memories and personalities are born, and this is why I believe architecture goes beyond enrichment. Architecture is the art and practice of visionaries in creating livable space, and I am proud and blessed to be a contributor.”

Photos, top to bottom: Marcus; a selection of images from Marcus’ portfolio, including architectural design, furniture design, and wood turning; Marcus expressing design creativity in the wood and steel fabrication lab.