Expertise – Design, Critical Thinker, Exterior Skin & Surface Manipulation, Micro-Details, International Lecturer, Educator, Universal Traveler and Advisor
Ms. DiMaio is an architect, educator, and influential design strategist. Her research-based design approach has repositioned history as an active trans-historical component in the design process, expanding the repertoire of architectural strategies for students and professionals.
Ms. DiMaio’s trans-historical, crossover methodology was established early on and was fueled by the theoretical non-linear speculations of Colin Rowe which considered history imaginatively and as an active component in the design process. Subsequently, working with the scholar of Italian painting, S. J. Freedberg, DiMaio evolved these speculations to intersect with painting, other arts, and later other trans-disciplinary components. Her research gained validation when she was awarded the Rome Prize in Architecture with her winning proposal, “The Activity of the Grid in Sixteenth Century Italy” and with later acknowledgement from the Fulbright Commission. Her leadership has resulted in the expansion of the repertory of architectural ideas/strategies and has expanded the 21st century discourse on architectural education by repositioning history as an active and speculative component in the design process.
As senior designer at Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) she applied her unorthodox methodology to design and problem solving. For the ABC Broadcasting Studio Building on West 66th Street, she saw constructed a design which exemplified her trans-historical approach to design. With side-by-side comparisons derived from her mastery of history, she crafted a highly original exterior wall for an as-of-right building and it was recognized as such by KPF. The designs for the Hecht Block in Washington, DC, and the headquarters for First Boston Bank at 383 Madison Avenue were also influenced with these principals in mind.
Invited to teach at Columbia, and in pursuit of her professional development, she re-directed her goals to find a balance between a research-based design practice and teaching. Ms. DiMaio has always stated that without an in-depth understanding of both the educational arm and a parallel grasp of practice, it would be impossible to utilize architectural education as a viable vehicle for design in practice.
She was later invited to join the faculty at Yale where she also assumed the directorship for the Undergraduate Major in Architecture. While director, she restructured the design track, and expanded the major’s architectural history track to include non-chronological approaches to the study of history. With an eye to the growing importance of urbanism she also introduced a third track, interdisciplinary urban studies. All three tracks remain in place to this day.
She has also taught for the University of Notre Dame’s Rome Program. There she revamped the studio and history curricula to work in tandem, embracing Rome not as if an “out of print book”, but as a living city, and educational milieu, grounded in critical and visual thinking. She has been the ‘Distinguished Gensler Professor’ at Cornell and has held visiting professorships throughout America and in Italy. She has lectured for Magdalen College’s Italian Society at Oxford University. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was invited by the American Academy in Rome to be the first Colin Rowe Resident in Design in 2009.
As Dean of NYIT’s School of Architecture and Design (2001-2016), Ms. DiMaio restructured aspects of the curriculum to address the importance of crossovers in building design, technology, and history. DiMaio advocated the creation of an international design-build studio now known as sLAB. The first of these institution wide, interdisciplinary projects was "America's First Solar Hydrogen House" which utilized an innovative hydrogen fuel cell. The students were subsequently invited to testify before the U.S. Congress on alternative energy and NYIT was then recognized by Architecture Magazine as one of the top four schools in building construction technology in the country
Ms. DiMaio skillfully crafted an interdisciplinary proposal which afforded the Interior Design component of the school to be included in the 2012 Fiera di Milano sponsored by Cosmit, Italia. NYIT was one of 20 institutions worldwide and one of only two U.S. Schools selected to exhibit at the Fair.
Ms. DiMaio has seen her approach to education and design thinking widely disseminated through writing, public presentations, and interviews, influencing diverse audiences. Through her trans-historical approach, she has gained an international reputation for skillfully broadening the state of knowledge in architecture. She has been sought out by such noted architects as James Freed, FAIA of Pei, Cobb Freed, who, for instance, requested she share her in-depth knowledge of architecture and history with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. She has similarly shared her expertise on Rome with the world-renowned painter Helen Frankenthaler who was visiting Rome during one of DiMaio's Roman sojourns.
Her projects have been included in Colin Rowe’s 3rd Volume of As I Was Saying. Thomas Schumacher, in his book, Terragni’s Danteum, acknowledges DiMaio’s all-important critical observations, essential to his text. Her recent article, in the Italian Journal Paesaggio Urbano, a critique of the Venice Biennale 2010 was published in 2011. She has spoken on radio about architectural education and has traveled to Italy for public television.
Ms. DiMaio manages both the New York City and Rome offices. She divides her time between New York and Rome depending on partnership demands.