Marianne Cusato

Marianne Cusato '97 and '17

Professor of the Practice, Director of the Housing & Community Regeneration Initiative

(574) 631-8610

Renowned for her work on innovative housing solutions for disaster recovery and workforce housing, Marianne Cusato is a Professor of Practice and Director of the School's Housing and Community Regeneration Initiative, a “Think-and-Do Tank” that provides assistance to municipalities and nonprofit organizations to improve economic development by reimagining the built environment. This work targets immediate local impact as well as national and global influence through projects, research, and education.

In addition to her work at Notre Dame, Marianne is the partner in charge of design and development at Cypress Community Development Corp, a not-for-profit housing corporation dedicated to creating resilient and energy efficient homes that are also dignified and attainable. Cypress CDC’s built work includes the development 450 Katrina Cottages in Louisiana through FEMA funding, as well as the homes in the Florida Keys following Hurricane Irma and in Sonoma County, California following the 2017 wildfires. They are currently working in Panama City, FL, rebuilding from Hurricane Michael, Baton Rouge, LA rebuilding from recent floods, and on the Island of Barbuda in partnership with the Prince’s Foundation.

Marianne has been ranked the No. 4 most influential person in the home building industry by Builder Magazine, voted one of the 30 Most Influential Women in the Housing Economy by HousingWire Magazine and selected by Fortune Magazine as one of the Top Women in Real Estate. Her 308 sq. ft. Katrina Cottage design won the Smithsonian Institute’s Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum’s 2006 "People's Design Award."  That same year, Congress appropriated $400 million for an alternative emergency housing program based on Marianne’s designs.

She has been honored with the American Society of Interior Designers “2007 ASID Design for Humanity Award,” the American Institute of Building Designers (AIBD) Florida Society “2007 Honor Award of Excellence,” and in 2014 with a “Robert Bruss Real Estate Book Award” from the National Association of Real Estate Editors. 

Marianne and her work are featured often in the media including The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Associated Press, Reuters, Forbes, Time magazine, The Week, InStyle Home, Fine Homebuilding, Next City, Curbed, Custom Home, Consumer Reports, Builder magazine, Architectural Record, ABC News, CNN, CNBC and NPR.

The author of two books: The Just Right Home: Buying, Renting, Moving...or Just Dreaming--Find Your Perfect Match! with Daniel DiClerico (April 2013, Workman Publishing) and Get Your House Right, Architectural Elements to Use and Avoidwith Ben Pentreath, Richard Sammons and Leon Krier, foreword by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales (January 2008, Sterling Publishing), she has been a contributor to FORTUNE Magazine and wrote a regular column for Fine Homebuilding Magazine. 

Marianne holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture and MBA from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business. 

Areas of Expertise

  • American Domestic Architecture
  • Classical Architecture
  • Community Building
  • Residential Design
  • Urban Design

Recently Taught Courses

Charrette Lab ARCH 41711

U.S. Housing & Social Justice: The History of Housing Segregation and the Future of Equitable American Cities ARCH 43201/AMST 30922

Why Are Buildings Ugly? ARCH 53381

Select Publications

Get Your House Right, Architectural Elements to Use and Avoid

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