James Steele, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, ACSA Distinguished Professor


BA, English, Lafayette College B.Arch and M.Arch, University of Pennsylvania Ph.D., USC School of Policy Planning, & Development

Since 1991, Prof. Steele has taught history and theory of architecture as well as design studios at the School of Architecture. He has been a guest critic and speaker at numerous universities in the United States and internationally. He organized the first summer semester abroad program for architecture students in Malaysia in 1998 and administered the Program up through its fifteenth and final session in 2014. He then founded and was the Director of a new Undergraduate Program in Brazil, based in Sao Paulo which ran from 2015-2017. He has also served on the USC President's Committee on International Affairs and the USC Faculty Senate. Prof. Steele is the author of more than 50 books and monographs, including Ecological Architecture: Critical History which examines ecological architecture over the past century, and The Architecture of Rasem Badran; Narratives on People and Place, a monograph on the award winning Jordanian architect. Badran designs environments that stand in stark contrast to self-conscious, anonymous architecture devoid of any reference to people, place, or culture. He also wrote the Encyclopedia of Homes through World History which was published in June 2008. In it, his premise is that the house, throughout history, is the three-dimensional record of the cultures that built it and environmental factors that shaped it. He is also the editor of the recently published Future Perfect: A History of the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California by the USC Guild Press. His latest book is Contemporary Japanese Architecture: Tracing the Next Generation, published by Routledge & Kegan Paul. He is a member of the UNESCO Scientific Committee: "Safeguarding Project of Hassan Fathy's New Gourna Village" tasked with saving this Egyptian master’s most significant work. He was also named by the Birchwood Conservancy as the lead architect for the World Heritage Animal Genetic Repository Institute (WHARG) in Sanger, CA to serve as a prototypical, sustainable, non- governmental, multinational animal genetic holding center to protect endangered species and the biodiversity of the planet. Prof. Steele’s recent presentations have been at the 4th Annual Cultural Heritage Forum in Abha, Saudi Arabia and another in Qaseem, Saudi Arabia. He presented and acted as a Session Chair at the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments (IASTE) Conference "Whose Tradition" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He also presented a paper at The Architectural Forum of Southwest China in Chengdu. He acted as Design Consultant with architectural firm Perkins and Will on a new palace for King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In 2015, Prof. Steele was named a Distinguished Professor by the Association of Collegiate School of Architecture. The ACSA recognizes creative achievement in the advancement of architectural education through teaching, design, scholarship, research and service. He also received a Fulbright Scholar’s Grant in 2016 for a study of Minangkabau architecture in Sumatra, and will present Muara Laboh, which is one village he studied there with his collaborator, Prof. Ezrin Arbi at the University of Malaysia, at a UNESCO conference in Guizhou, China in September 2017.

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