A. Melissa Harris is an Associate Professor in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. A licensed architect, Harris was educated at North Carolina State University and the University of California, Berkeley. She teaches design and visual thinking. Prior to launching an academic career in 1990, her professional experience includes five years as a designer at the AIA Gold Medal firm of Esherick, Homsey, Dodge and Davis in San Francisco, shorter stints in the offices of Edward Larrabee Barnes in New York and Helmer Stenros in Helsinki, and archeological work with Brigham Young University on the Seila Pyramid in Egypt.
Interested in the overlaps between drawing and building, Harris uses her sketchbook as a site, where drawings seek to relate form and behavior to how we measure and describe our built world. Part analysis, part example her drawings span forty years of looking and are in the works as a draft called Architect’s Sketchbook.
Recognized for both architectural and artistic work, Harris has received an Interiors Design Award and a Jurors Award from the American Society of Architectural Perspectivists. Juried exhibitions of her drawings and paintings include numerous national and international venues (NC Museum of Natural Science, Technical University of Vienna, the Institute for the Humanities, McGill University and numerous schools of architecture across America). Publications have appeared in various journals and magazines – Architecture, Pidgin, Interiors, The Fifth Column, Dimensions as well as books – Learning by Building and The Good House. In 2005 Harris was invited back to EHDD to consult on A Sense of Place: Design Guidelines for Yosemite National Park, contributing all the drawings. Interests in the social aspects of architecture inspired Harris to create the first cadet level Girl Scout badge in architecture. Research and creative projects have been sponsored by the Graham Foundation, the Newhouse Foundation, the Office of the Vice President for Research, Rackham, the Mellon Foundation, and the Binda Faculty Development fund.