Mario Cortes, associate professor of architecture in the College of Architecture, Arts, and Design at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of associate professor emeritus by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The emeritus title may be conferred on retired faculty members who are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in recognition of exemplary service to the university.

A member of the Virginia Tech community for more than 31 years, Cortes taught architectural design, building structures, and watercolor. Through his extensive participation and leadership in study abroad programs, studios, and required courses and seminars, he encouraged students to learn outside the confines of the classroom under the sky amidst nature, cities, towns, and villages.

Cortes imparted his extensive knowledge of building structures by not only teaching structures classes required for all architecture students, but also architecture design labs and other coursework. He inspired countless students with his mastery of brush skills and the beauty and luminosity of colors in watercolor seminars he taught every year, demonstrating the influence of both art and science in architecture for students.

In 2006, Cortes received the Gabriel Prize from the Western European Architecture Foundation for his watercolor paintings which were displayed at the Cité Internationale des Arts. He also was honored with a creative achievement award from the college, then known as the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

He cultivated relationships locally and across Virginia by providing structural design services for numerous architecture projects, including the Blacksburg Farmers Market, a rammed earth design-build house in Giles County, and other impactful buildings. He did the structural design of the King Buildings in Blacksburg at the end of Prices Fork Road — where Eats Natural Foods is located — and worked on the structural design of the last two solar decathlons, Lumenhaus and Solar House Dubai.

Cortes received his bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree from Virginia Tech.