Marvel Pivots Practice, Readies for Future Challenges of Cities and Public Space
Solidifying its interdisciplinary and research-based approach, Marvel Architects is poised to solve current and unforeseen urban challenges; the firm also changes its name and elevates two landscape architects to partner
NEW YORK, NY—Recognizing that the pressing issues facing contemporary urban centers, communities, and the natural environment can only be solved with bold, collective action, Marvel Architects has transformed its practice into a collective of interdisciplinary research and design teams. Going forward, the firm will be known as MARVEL to reflect its deep bench of talent and creative approach, calibrated to provide holistic design and inspiring spaces everywhere. The firm has offices in New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Interdisciplinary approach enables rapid response
MARVEL brings together architecture, landscape architecture, planning, urban design, and interiors professionals to accelerate the discussion between policy makers, community and business leaders, clients, activists, and citizens.
By integrating landscape architecture equally into the design process, MARVEL transcends the traditional limits of architecture beyond form-making and positions itself to rapidly address complex and urgent problems. These include the effect of COVID on urban spaces, the potentially disastrous effects of climate change, and timely conversations about diversity and social equity.
“We are taking this interdisciplinary stance to answer the call to action, efficiently delivering the comprehensive solutions that our cities need now. We have also built a framework to listen, analyze, and then act on issues that they may encounter in the future,” said Jonathan Marvel, FAIA, founding principal of the firm. “Working as one entity, we can best design, plan, and build shared urban spaces that are key to humanity’s success and the health of our planet,” added Marvel.
Two landscape architects promoted to partner
As part of this change, MARVEL is formalizing its commitment to landscape architecture by promoting landscape architects Yadiel Rivera-Diaz and Tyler Silvestro to partner. “While landscape architecture has always been an integral part of the firm’s design process, the addition of Yadiel and Tyler into the partnership empowers us to fully embrace the global challenges of our time,” said Guido Hartray, founding partner.
“At MARVEL, we are place makers, and with every project we strive to shape resilient futures that honor history, culture, and people. By weaving together architecture, urban design, and now landscape, we are better prepared to serve all urban residents and co-author accessible and participatory spaces with local communities,“ explained new partner Rivera-Diaz.
“The merging of architecture and landscape architecture is MARVEL’s way of acknowledging the greater impact that we can have, working in unison. Together we have a greater capacity to shape communities and cities everywhere,” said Silvestro.
A rigorous research-based approach
Central to the practice is the firm’s “spatial planning” design process. MARVEL synthesizes research, planning, construction, technology, and programming into projects that improve people’s quality of life both immediately and for the long-term.
“At Marvel, we are building projects and public spaces that embody the principles of equity and fairness,” said Lissa So, founding partner of the firm. “Whether they’re used for social gatherings, green markets, bike paths, or storm protections, we believe they should welcome all people and purposes. We are excited to apply our extensive, combined expertise to the formidable issues we face today, and put communities first.”
This civic-minded approach is exemplified by the Resilient Power Puerto Rico project, where the firm took the initiative to install solar panels on local community centers in Puerto Rico after hurricanes Maria and Irma collapsed the island’s energy grid and damaged 80% of its power transmission and distribution lines. Throughout the recurring months-long blackouts, these solar-powered hubs provided a sustainable lifeline to thousands of residents—and continue to support the resilience of the communities to this day.
Other projects include the renovation of NJIT’s Central King building and its connection to the Newark, New Jersey campus; weaving together development and park at Pierhouse 1 hotel in Brooklyn; restoring public access to the river at Bronx Point; the masterplan for Snug Harbor on Staten Island; and the expansion of public space with the Union Square Partnership. All are solutions that bridge building and landscape to create meaningful places of engagement for individuals and communities alike.
Research-based discipline groups
The firm’s depth and diversity is further reflected in all of its research-based discipline groups. Jonathan Marvel will act as creative director for all the teams.
- Marvel Architecture is led by Guido Hartray, Lissa So, Dennis Vermeulen, Edna Echandi, and Raquel Marrero
- Marvel Landscape Architecture is headed by Yadiel Rivera-Diaz, Tyler Silvestro, and José Juan Terrasa-Soler
- Marvel Planning & Urban Design is led by Tim Fryatt and Ishita Gaur
- Marvel Sustainability: AIA 2030 Commitment is led by Scott Demel and Jason Jimenez
- Marvel IDEAL: Inclusion Diversity and Equity Leadership is headed by Annya Ramírez-Jiménez and Andrew Torres
- Marvel Technology is led by Nebil Gokcebay and Danielle Cerone
- Marvel QA/QC is headed by JS Yong, Martha Bush, and Zachary Griffin
- Marvel Strategy is led by Jennifer Olsen, Hector Ralat, and Marisa Irizarry
- Marvel MAD: Design Review is led by Guillermo Marrero, Magnus Westergren, Ariel Poliner, and Paul Healy
For almost a decade, Marvel (MarvelDesigns.com) has worked at the intersection of public and private space, creating intentionally timeless design solutions that integrate nature and context. The recipient of over 135 international industry awards—among them the AIA’s highest honor, the 2019 Presidential Citation for integrating design and community service and WEDG Certification for Public Waterfront Design Excellence—its portfolio spans a range of sectors, including affordable housing, commercial, cultural institutions, schools and higher education, civic and public works, hospitality, high-end residential, recreational projects, workspaces, and parks and gardens. The firm has offices in New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico.