PROfessors PRACtice - Bell, Eisenbach, Noonan, and Ohnstad

April 12, 2019 - 4:30 PM
Great Space

PROfessors PRACtice

with Matthew Bell, Ronit Eisenbach, Peter Noonan, and Tonya Ohnstad

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Matthew Bell is a registered architect who specializes in large-scale architecture, urban design and planning. In addition to teaching architecture and urban design in the architecture program at Maryland, Bell has been active in the profession with projects ranging in scale from a new town in Turkey which, when completed, will be home to over 100,000 people; to leading urban design efforts for numerous large sites in the Baltimore/Washington, DC region. Bell also was the first Community Architect at King Farm, a 440 acre new urban community in Rockville, Maryland, which was awarded a Charter Award from the Congress for the New Urbanism in 2001. Bell has directed the school's Summer in Rome program since 1990 and also participated in the School's first-ever planning and architecture urban design program in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1996. He has served as president of the Neighborhood Design Center in Baltimore and Prince George's County, Maryland, assisting communities and community groups in matters of design and planning. From 1994 to 1999 Bell was the Director and conference chair of the Northeast Regional meeting of the Mayor's Institute for City Design, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has been exhibited at the Triennale di Milano and his University of Maryland studio in urban design recently won the first Charter award from Congress for the New Urbanism for an urban infill project for Castellamare di Stabia, Italy.


Bell is a member of the Congress for the New Urbanism and also Principal in the Washington, DC office of Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects. He is also Vice President of the Restoring Ancient Stabia Foundation (, an international effort to restore the ancient seaside villas of Stabiae, located three kilometers from Pompei. Bell has received degrees in architecture and urban design from the University of Notre Dame and Cornell University.

Ronit Eisenbach is an architect, artist, curator, and educator whose scholarship and multi-disciplinary spatial practice aims to engage others in dialogue about the world we make for ourselves. Combining art, design and architecture, she explores how the perception of subjective, invisible and ephemeral objects affects understanding and experience of place.  An interest in thinking through making and refining perception has led her to teach a series of situation-based, design-build studios that frame elements of architecture such as light, color, space, and shadow.  


At Maryland she teaches undergraduate and graduate architecture studios, contemporary theory, an introductory course about the built environment. She has also designed interdisciplinary courses that she has co-taught with faculty in dance and art. A new course “Making Place: Public Art and Design” developed with Sculpture Professor John Ruppert and Urban Planning Prof. Gerrit Knapp has been selected by the Academy of Innovation & Entrepeneurship as a new “Fearless Ideas Course.”   


Venues for Eisenbach's work include: the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Graham Foundation, the Cranbrook Art Museum, Princeton University, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and the streets of Tel Aviv.  Collaborations with choreographers, Peter Sparling, Dana Reitz, Bebe Miller, and Sharon Mansur, have resulted in a series of performance/installation works that explore relationships between gesture, inhabitation, and place. These include: Detroit 300: Fast Forward, Play Back,  Placing Space, Memory House/Desire House and  Out of Place. Her current research and creative work focuses on the potential for a catalytic relationship between ephemeral works and sites-in-flux.  


Eisenbach’s design work is recognized with awards from the AIA, ACSA and ID magazine and has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Graham Foundation, Detroit Institute of Arts, University of Michigan Arts of Citizenship program, Maryland State Arts Council and others.  Reviews have appeared in the Journal of Architectural Education, Public Art Review, The Washington Post, Washington Times, Sculpture Magazine, + Metropolis. 


Eisenbach co-authored, Installation by Architects: Experiments in Building and Design, co-produced the documentary film, The Radiant Sun: Designer Ruth Adler Schnee, and curated Ruth Adler Schnee: A Passion for Color and Design for the Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice, Italy and UMD’s Kibel Gallery, which she directs.  A graduate of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Rhode Island School of Design, Eisenbach is a former member of the ACSA Board of Directors and a current member of the National Building Museum's Education Committee. She is faculty fellow of NYU's Center for Creative Research, a Beverly Willis Architecture Fellow, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and a MacDowell Fellow.

Peter Noonan is an architect and Principal at McInturff Architects, a nationally recognized firm dedicated to excellence in design and building craft. The work includes residential, commercial and institutional projects. His work with the firm includes over forty highly crafted projects, and he is typically involved in the entire range of architectural services, utilizing a process with considerable client interaction and involvement in an effort to tailor buildings to the needs of their users. Many of the projects he has executed with the firm have been published both locally and nationally. The firm has received more than 250 design awards, including National AIA Honor Awards for both 1247 Wisconsin Avenue, and the Martin-Schocket House, with Mr. Noonan as the Project Architect for each. Current and recent projects include a The Textile Museum, 20,000 square foot mixed-use project in Washington, DC, an alumni dining hall for the West Virginia University President's House, and several award winning houses at Merry-Go-Round Farm in Potomac, Maryland.


An AIA member since 1994, Mr. Noonan has served on the Board of Directors for the Potomac Valley chapter since 2003, and currently serves as the chapter's Treasurer. In 1993 he traveled throughout Scandinavia as a visiting scholar/architect with the Lahti Polytechnic Institute of Designs' Cultural Exchange Fellowship. He has won several national design competitions, including Landscape Architecture Magazines' Visionary Unbuilt Landscapes Competition, which published his University of Maryland thesis, the Dean's Prize winning entry titled: Ritual & Place: A New Urban Cemetery.


Mr. Noonan has combined an active career of both architectural practice and making, along with a connection to the academic world. He has served on juries at schools of architecture throughout the capital region, and since 1992 has taught at the University of Maryland. Courses taught here have included the Comprehensive Design Studio, and a graduate seminar on Nordic Architecture.

Tonya Ohnstad has worked as a designer at several firms nationally and internationally. At Ateliers Jean Nouvel in Paris she worked on museum curation in Rio and was part of the winning competition entry for Doha's Corniche. She worked at Naarud Stokke Wig in Oslo, a multifaceted firm working in both large and small scales. Tonya was a junior architect at Gehry Partners and worked on the design of the LVMH museum in Paris.


In Boston, Tonya worked at Kennedy Violich Architects and at MATx where she was the design lead for 34th Street Ferry Landing in Manhattan. She also worked on the original design and distribution of Portable Light, a project that she and her Portable light team earned patents for. Tonya worked for Conway + Schulte in Minneapolis and for Ohnstad Architects in Sioux Falls. 


Tonya graduated Suma Cum Laude from the University of Minnesota with a BA in architecture and has a Masters in Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design. She opened her own practice, OdA in Norway in 2010.