Internationally acclaimed architects and practitioners comprise the jury for the coveted 2023 Marcus Prize, awarded by the UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP) in partnership with the Marcus Corporation Foundation.

Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Lee Bey and Débora Mesa will join David Marcus, Mo Zell, and Sam Schuermann on this year’s jury, which will meet this fall and announce the 2023 Marcus Prize recipient in September.

Kyle Reynolds, Head of School for SARUP, is excited about what Bergmann, Bey, and Mesa bring to the jury. “These jurors are incredibly talented, and their diverse roles and perspectives in the field of architecture will undoubtedly enrich the selection process and contribute to recognizing visionaries in our industry,” he said.

“Not only does this jury represent an inspirating wealth of experience and expertise, but they are also a testament to the caliber of this prestigious award,” Reynolds added.


Kai-Uwe Bergmann, FAIA, is a Partner at BIG, a Copenhagen, New York, London, Barcelona and Shenzen based group of architects, designers, urbanists, landscape professionals, interior and product designers, researchers and inventors. Bergmann brings his architectural expertise to proposals around the globe, including work in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Kai-Uwe heads up BIG’s business development–which currently has the office working in over 40 different countries. He also oversees BIG’s Urban scales projects and supports BIG’s Landscape projects. He is registered as an architect in the USA (15 states) and Canada. Bergmann most recently contributed to the resiliency plan BIG U to protect 10 miles of Manhattan’s coastline. First envisioned through the Rebuild by Design competition to develop proactive responses to Superstorm Sandy, it is now being constructed with a completion date in 2026. Additional projects include Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Queens Park, Smithsonian Master Plan, Pittsburgh Master Plan and Miami Beach Square. He complements his professional work through previous teaching assignments at Georgia Tech, University of Pennsylvania, IE University in Madrid, and his alma mater the University of Virginia. Bergmann formerly was on the Board of the Van Alen Institute, participates on numerous international juries and lectures globally on the works of BIG.

Lee Bey is architecture critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. He is also a member of the Sun-Times editorial board, where he writes editorials on city governance, neighborhood development, politics and urban planning. Bey is the author of the much-praised book Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side (Northwestern University Press, 2019), which showcases his architectural photography and social commentary. He was also the host of the public television special, Building Blocks: The Architecture of Chicago’s South Side, which aired on WTTW in 2023.

David Marcus is the chairman of the Marcus Corporation Foundation. He has chaired the foundation for the last five years and has helped steward the foundation since 2005. Marcus is a board member of Goodwill Industries of Southeast Wisconsin, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts and Sculpture Milwaukee. He is the past chair of the Froedtert Foundation and Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. He also leads Marcus Investments, the Marcus family’s private investment arm. Marcus Investments holdings includes Berengaria Real Estate Development, Hospitality Democracy restaurants, Verlo Mattress and a minority interest in the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club. 

Débora Mesa is a European Licensed Architect, principal of Ensamble Studio and co-founder of WoHo. She is the 2021 Marcus Prize recipient along with her partner Antón García-Abril. She learned the profession by combining design with hands-on experiences in quarries, factories and construction sites, where she arrived to translate innovative ideas into built reality, alongside her partners Antón García-Abril and Javier Cuesta. Mesa has been key to the expansion of the firm in the United States and the implementation of an interdisciplinary approach to architecture. Their contributions to the theory and practice of architecture have received numerous international recognitions, including the 2022 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award and the 2019 RIBA Charles Jencks Award. She is Design Critic in Architecture at Harvard GSD and previously served as Critic at Large at Pratt GAUD in 2021/22, Ventulett Chair in Architectural Design at Georgia Tech in 2018/22 and Research Scientist at MIT in 2013/18, where she co-founded the POPlab –Prototypes of Prefabrication– in 2012. Mesa holds a master’s degree from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, where she also completed her doctorate studies.

Sam Schuermann is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning. She holds a Master of Architecture from Rice University and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati, where she has taught studios in the School of Architecture and Interior Design. Prior to joining UWM, Schuermann practiced at LEVER Architecture in Portland, Oregon with a focus on affordable housing, cultural institutions, and mass timber material research. Schuermann is a designer, maker, and researcher whose work explores the aesthetics, objects, conventions, and material implications of domesticity. She served as the 2022-23 Architectural Activism Fellow at UWM, researching the intersection of domestic labor, gender, and architecture. Her work has been published in Wisconsin Architect Magazine, NCBDS, PLAT 7.5, exhibited at the Oslo Architecture Triennale and through Sculpture Milwaukee, and she has served on numerous juries.

Mo Zell is Interim Dean of the College of the Arts and Architecture, an accomplished architect and author. She is principal of the award-winning design and research practice, bauenstudio, with partner Marc Roehrle. Zell co-founded Women in Design Milwaukee and is president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). In 2021, she was recognized as a Milwaukee Business Journal Woman of Influence in the mentor category. Her book, The Architectural Drawing Course, is a popular resource providing tools and techniques for architectural drawings to students and design professionals. Zell received her B.S. in Architecture from the University of Virginia and her M.Arch from Yale University. Before working at UWM, Zell taught at Clemson University, North Carolina State University, and Northeastern University.


The Marcus Prize was established in 2005 as a biennial, international architecture award recognizing the talent and achievements of emerging architects in the early stages of their careers. The award recognizes both the past accomplishments of emerging architects, as well as their promise of future contributions to the field of architecture. Past recipients include Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries, MVRDV, Frank Barkow and Regine Leibinger, Barkow Leibinger, Alejandro Aravena, Diébédo Francis Kéré, Sou Fujimoto, Joshua Ramus, Jeanne Gang, Tatiana Bilbao, and Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa, Ensamble Studio. 

Thanks to the generous support of the Marcus Foundation, the $100,000 prize includes $50,000 to the winner and $50,000 to lead a design studio in collaboration with SARUP faculty.