Worldly Perspective:
MAF 2023 Scholarship Winner 
Odette Giorgees


Living in multiple countries made Odette Giorgees, who recently graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy SACD with a Master of Architecture degree, hyper aware of various built environments, and sparked her interest in becoming an architect. “Growing up in old Damascus, Syria, then moving to suburban Canada enticed my passion for architecture. I began to question why and how certain architectural typologies affect us on a psychological, spiritual, physical, social, and economic level.”

She continues, “I have also always been fascinated by architecture’s power of creating a deterministic condition; it is what I enjoy most about architecture. Architecture can dictate the way people live and architects have the power to design conditions where human activity will thrive.”   In fact, in her architectural career, Odette would prefer to design civic and commercial buildings such as public institutions, libraries, museums, restaurants, as she believes these spaces have the most potential to create a civic impact.

Odette is the 2023 recipient of MAF’s Professional Concepts Insurance Agency scholarship. “Winning an MAF scholarship made me feel supported and validated in my academic and professional career, and inspired me to continue my personal and professional development and growth journey in the field of architecture. I would like to thank The Professional Concepts Insurance Agency and other donors that contributed to my scholarship.”

One of the things Odette enjoyed most about her Master’s program at UDM SACD was the opportunity to conduct research and formulate urban theories concerning the lack of Third Places in Suburbia. “Currently, I am actively exploring strategies to translate these theories into practice through my professional career as a project manager at Gateway Engineering alongside my mentor, Dr. Joseph Vaglica.”

As part of the MAF Scholarship application process, students are required to submit a personal statement, as well as a design portfolio. “I shared my past contributions in the realm of civic architecture and design including my AIA 2021 Detroit Sidewalk Architecture and Civic Pride competition-winning installation titled The Sound of Detroit, and my graduate thesis on third places and building the soft infrastructure,” said Odette. “My goal is to continue these contributions beyond my academic career.”

Odette’s personal portfolio included her historic preservation design proposal for the Romanesque site of Chiesa di Santo Stefano in Volterra Toscana Italy; some of her creative works, such as her Italian alabaster sculpture ‘Il Divino Maschile e Femminile’; and her urban analysis studies in Europe.

Global environments also are among Odette’s favorite works of architecture. “I always felt inspired by the architecture of old cities such as Damascus and Rome as they create intimate yet lively urban conditions,” she says.  “I am also inspired by the vernacular design of the monasteries of Iraq, and in particular, Mar Mattai monastery in Nineveh. I am fascinated by the idea of architecture continuing from the landscape and creating its identity through its context.”

Michigan Architectural Foundation’s mission is to advance awareness of how architecture enriches life. How does Odette think architecture enriches life? “Architecture enriches life by creating life,” she says.