Kenneth Breisch, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

A.B., M.A. and Ph.D., History of Art, University of Michigan

Ken Breisch holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and served as founder and Director of the USC Graduate Programs in Historic Preservation (now Heritage Conservation) from 1997 to 2011. Under his leadership, this program was the recipient of the California Preservation Foundation President's Award and a Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award. Breisch has taught at SCI-Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture), The University of Delaware and The University of Texas at Austin and served from 1981 until 1986 as Director of Survey and Planning in the Texas State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in Austin, Texas.

He writes and lectures on American architectural history, especially in the areas of American library design, vernacular building, and Southern California architecture and landscapes. His books include Henry Hobson Richardson and the Small Public Library in America: A Study in Typology (MIT, 1997); The Los Angeles Central Library: Building an Architectural Icon, 1872-1933 (J. Paul Getty Trust, 2016); and American Libraries: 1730-1950 (Library of Congress and W. W. Norton, 2017). He is the co-editor with Kim Hoagland of Constructing Image, Identity and Place: Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, IX (University of Tennessee Press: 2003) and Building Place: Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, X (University of Tennessee Press: 2005), and currently serves on the Editorial Board for The Oxford Bibliography of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation.

He is a past President of the Society of Architectural Historians and board member of the Vernacular Architecture Forum and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. Breisch was a Santa Monica Planning Commissioner from 1993 to 2000, served on the Board of the Santa Monica Public Library (2001-2014), is currently a member of the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission. He is a Board Member Emeritus of the Santa Monica Conservancy.

Currently Teaching
  • 404
    Topics in Modern Architecture in Southern California
    Topics in Modern Architecture in Southern California
    Architecture 404 examines the impact of the environment, culture and politics on the evolution of architecture and urban planning in Southern California in the 20th century. It explores the interchange between European modernism and local vernacular influences as they came together to create new regional architectural and urban forms. Lectures examine a series of case studies in order to more closely explore the complexity of these developments. There are few regions in the world more exciting to explore the scope of twentieth-century architecture than in Southern California. It is here that European and Asian influences combined with the local environment, culture, politics, and vernacular traditions to create an entirely new vocabulary of regional architecture and urban form. Lecture topics range from the stylistic influences of the Arts and Crafts movement and European Modernism to the impact on architecture and planning of the automobile, World War II, and the USC School of Architecture during the 1950s.
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