John Marx

Vice Chair
Board of Trustees
John Marx

John Marx, AIA, is a co-founding principal and chief artistic officer of Form4 Architecture in San Francisco, California.  He is responsible for developing Form4 Architecture’s design vision and philosophical language.  In order to return a sense of humanity back into architecture, he advocates for the inclusion of Philosophy, Art, and Poetry in the thoughtful making of place by creating emotionally resonant architecture and urban spaces. He is a part time student of Absurdity, Paradox, Kindness, and Balance.  

John’s design work and writing have been published in over 100 national and international publications. In 2018, the Architectural Review published his monograph “The Absurdity of Beauty - Rebalancing the Modernist Narrative”.  He has widely lectured on the topics of Design, Placemaking, Emotional Meaning and Cultural Vibrancy in Silicon Valley and places as diverse as Korea, Italy, Austria, Australia, Canada and the Technion in Israel.  

John has been going to Burning Man over six years and has also written about the importance of its participatory culture with regard to the design process and as a catalyst for social change. Last year, John Marx was lead artist on "Andromeda Reimagined”, a widely celebrated architectural pavilion at Burning Man. In 2020 John was Architect and Co-Lead Artist for the Museum of No Spectators, which debuted virtually in July.

Form4 Architecture has received over 165 design awards and in 2017, John became a Laureate of the American Prize for Architecture. Curated by The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture the award is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America’s highest public tributes for architecture in the United States. The American Prize for Architecture, is bestowed to an “outstanding practitioner in the United States that has emblazoned a new direction in the history of American Architecture with talent, vision, and commitment and has demonstrated consistent contributions to humanity through the built environment and through the art of architecture.”

“Form4 Architecture’s work pairs emotional and artistic substance to public and environmental place-making and space-creating. Their practice focuses on the dynamics of form as the carrier of more lofty intent than just simply ‘building’.””.......“This ideal and its philosophy conveys a ‘vision of the future’ and all the artistic possibilities of imagination, emotional meaning, and lyrical expressionism for a consequential better and more enlightened world around us.”....... “ the firm has passionately dedicated itself to the renewal of beauty in architecture and all its tangible and intangible forms. The firm rightly understands that Great Architecture must be as lyrical as it is functional.”

He also won the 2017 Upstart Award which honors the most innovative, disruptive, and creative business professionals throughout the SF Bay Area.

GAFF/ ECC showed John Marx’s work at the Venice Architecture Biennale in Italy in 2016. In 2018, they exhibited his research on ‘2nd Century Modernism – Reflections on Abundance’.  2021 sees the exhibition of his watercolors and poetry at Palazzo Mora during the Venice Biennale.

ORO press has recently published an award winning 160 page book entitled “ ETUDES The Poetry of Dreams + Other Fragments”.  This book focuses on 84 of John's watercolor paintings as well as 42 poems.

John has served on the Board of the Magic Theatre in San Francisco from 2009 thru 2020 and has chaired its Board over five years. The Magic Theatre honored him with the Sam Shephard Legacy Award in 2018. 

Originally from the Midwest, John has lived in San Francisco for 39 years with his wife Nikki Beach who is an internationally sought after maker of architectural model trees. They share a home designed by John and inspired by the painter Piet Mondrian.