A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Odile Compagnon (Adjunct Full Professor)


What did you aspire to be growing up?

As far as I can remember, I wanted to be an archeologist.

That was way before Indiana Jones, but that was the type of archeologist I wanted to be.

At the time, everyone said it wasn’t a profession for a woman, and advised me to look into becoming an archivist or a librarian or a museum curator. They didn’t understand that I wanted to dig, to find clues in space, to explore the world. I had to settle on architecture. Deep down however, I am really an archeologist. An archeotect? That would allow me to replace the prefix arch (chief) in architecture, with the prefix archeo (history) of archeology, and keep the suffix tect, (builder), whose site specificity and forward thinking I embrace.

What strategies did you use to be successful in college?

Hard work! And it is also magic beyond college.

What are some of your most memorable moments teaching?

I always love it when I can actually work on my students’ projects. So going to Chile in 2011 to build what they had designed was a real treat. A tough challenge too, but they were all well prepared especially at thinking fast and acting confidently when something didn’t go as planned. I teach that as a designer, one needs to be deft, sometimes they call me MacGyver.

What are the most urgent questions facing design/architecture/interior architecture today?

There are only two kinds of problems in the world: those related to water and those related to communication. With a little bit of cordiality, we could find a tool to solve both kinds, in most instances.

CLAIRVOYANCE, an installation for the Alliance Francaise of Chicago designed by Capstone Studio Nick Desotell (BIA 2017) and realized by a team of students interns during the following Summer and Fall.
PermaPark, a permaculture food forest designed by capstone student Emily May (BIA 2018) and realized by CCA Academy students during the following Summer and Fall.
Intuit Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art renovation.

Find out more about Odile Compagnon here