Thomas Fowler


Director Graduate Program, Architecture
Distinguished Professor of the ACSA

Director Community Interdisciplinary Design Studio (CIDS)
Phone 805.756.2981
Office 34-219
Web page

Areas of Expertise


Thomas’ teaching responsibilities include third year design and building technology courses, and directing his computer laboratory started in 1997, called the Collaborative Integrative Digital-Design Studio (CIDS). This facility provides his students with access to the latest digital technology for use in the design and constructability process in the studio. During his career he has received a number of awards in recognition of his teaching and research activities, which includes: College of Architecture & Environmental Design Westley Ward Teaching Award, 2007, Architecture Department's Faculty Teaching Award, 2005, "Young Faculty Teaching Award, ACSA/AIAS, 1996-'97", Nominated by Cal Poly's College of Architecture in both 2001 and 2000 for U.S. Professor of the Year Award, and "Young Architects Selection", Progressive Architecture Magazine, July 1994.

Thomas has served as paper referee for numerous conferences, published a range of papers on his design studio teaching methods and interdisciplinary project activities and has had a successful track record for successful grants for his research activities. Recently he has had an essay published titled, "A Teacher's View", in Becoming an Architect, Lee Waldrep, editor, Wiley 2006.

Thomas' practice experience includes working for Davis Brody Architects in New York City, and Hartman Cox in Washington, DC. He has also served as Associate Head of Cal Poly's Architecture Department from 2001 – 2007, served as the ACSA's Secretary to the Board, 2004 – 2006, has been appointed to serve on the National Architectural Accreditation Board (NAAB) as an ACSA representative from 2007 – 2009, and has had extensive experience in participating on NAAB visitation teams to 14 programs (4 of these he chaired) around the country.

Teaching Philosophy

There are four goals for all of Thomas' studios: One – building technology activities course (practice and ecs) are integral components of the design studio content so the aspirational and technical approaches to building design are apparent in design studio projects. Two – the effective use of a range of tools (analog and digital) are an integral part of the process for developing design projects. Three – there is a balance between students developing their individual projects in addition to working in teams for case study project analysis research. Four – is the connection of the studio to Tom’s Collaborative Integrative-Interactive Digital-Design Studio (CIDS), which allows for periodic collaborations with a range of disciplines on short-term projects. Visit Thomas Fowler's Cal Poly Digital Commons web page.


Educational Credentials:

M. Arch, Cornell, Ithaca, NY 1994
B. Arch, New York Institute of Technology / old Westbury Campus, Westbury, NY 1984

Teaching Experience:

Director of the Graduate Program (MSARCH)  2012– present
Professor, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA  2007–Present
Assistant Head, Dept. of Architecture, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA  2007-2012
Associate Head, Dept. of Architecture, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA  2002-2007
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Architecture, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA  1996-2007
Full-time lecturer, Dept. of Architecture, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA  1995-1996
Part-time Lecturer, University of California at Berkeley, Architecture Department, Berkeley, CA  1991 - 1993
Teaching Assistant, Cornell University, Dept. of Architecture, Introduction Program  Sum. ‘87, ‘88
Director of Minority Educational Affairs, Cornell University, College of Architecture, Art and Planning  1985-1989

Professional Experience:

Founder and Director, Collaborative Integrative Design Studio (CIDS)  1998-Present
Co-Founder and Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Projects Group (IPG)  2006-Present
Design Development Team Member, Davis Brody Bond Associates, Architects, New York City, NY  1994
Project Manager, University of California at Berkeley, Planning, Design and Construction, Berkeley, CA  1991-1994
Design Development Team Member, Hartman • Cox Architects, Washington, DC  1989-1990
Designer/Project Manager, Garrison McNeil Architects and Planners, New York City, NY  1978-1984


Registered Architect New York State License Number: 323233; National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Certification Number: 38053

Professional Memberships:

President: 2015 – 2106, Tau Sigma Delta (TSD) National Honor Society; Past President: 2016-2017; President-Elect, Vice President: 2014-2015
Chancellor: 2014 – 2015, Distinguished Professors of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (DPACSA); Past Chancellor: 2015-2016; Secretary: 2014-2015
American Institute of Architects (AIA)
Association of Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA)
National Architectural Visitation Team (NAAB) Visitations — 31 visitations (16 chaired)


Selected Publications and Recent Research:

  • “2020 Skyscraper Collaboratory”, Fowler, Thomas w/ Dong, Fowler, International Conference on Structuresand Architecture, Aalborg University, Aalborg Denmark, 6-8 July 2022.
  • “A Consultancy Design Studio Model for Advanced Structural Integration” Fowler, Thomas w/ Satwant, Rihal, International Conference on Structures and Architecture, Aalborg University, Aalborg Denmark, 6-8 July 2022.
  • “Advanced Tall Buildings Systems Integration” Fowler, Thomas w/ Dong, Kevin Building Technology Educators Society (BTES), Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, June 10-12, 2021.
  • Engineers and Architects”, 3rd International Conference on Structures and Architecture (ICSA) 2016, July 27 – 29 Guimarães, Portugal
  • Bareng, Gilbert; Hydash, Kerry; Fowler, Thomas; and Taylor, Lesley; Soares, Joy, “INTERNNECT: An innovative Work-Based Learning Model”, National Academy Foundation (NAF); NAFNEXT 2015, July 20-22, Anaheim, CA
  • Dong, Kevin, Doefler, James, and Fowler, Thomas, “The Interdisciplinary Design Studio: Identifying Collaboration” 1st International Conference on Structures and Architecture (ICSA) 2013, July Guimarães, Portugal
  • Cabrinha, Mark; Dong, Kevin; Doefler, James; and Fowler, Thomas, “Cal Poly Architecture and Architectural Engineering Studio: A Collaboratory”, by Olsen, Clare and Mac Namara, Sinead, Collaborations in Architecture and  Engineering, Routledge, NY 2014
  • Dong, Kevin, Doefler, James, and Fowler, Thomas, 2013. “The Interdisciplinary Design Studio: Identifying Collaboration” Building Technology Educators’ Society (BTES) Conference “Tectonics of Teaching”, Roger Williams University July 11-13, 2013.
  • Fowler, Thomas, and Gillette, David, 2015 – Present, “The InstaBooth Project”, Design + Build Portable Prototypical Structure in Collaboration with Queensland University of Technology’s Urban Informatics and Interactive Visual Design divisions in Brisbane, Australia.
  • Dong, Kevin, Fowler, Thomas, and The ARUP Cause (David Lambert), 2015 – Present, “Collaboratory In Grasshopper”, Design + Build University and Housing Project for Same’, Tanzania, Africa.
  • Dong, Kevin, Fowler, Thomas, The ARUP Cause (David Lambert) and The Mbesese Initiative (Client), 2012 – Present. Collaboratory Design + Build University and Housing Project for Same’, Tanzania, Africa.
  • Interdisciplinary Design Studio Grant, 2008 – 2013 ($10,000 a year x 5 years) $50,000

Selected Activities:

  • Design + Build Prototype for Center for Centering [C4C], w/ Prof Kevin Dong and
    clients, College of Architecture and Environmental Design, 2021 - 2022
  • CAED Universal Traveler Fund, 2019
  • “Design-Build [Over Flood Waters] For Tanzanian, African Elementary School”, w/ Prof Dong, CAED Universal Traveler Fund, 2019
  • “2 Towns Project” , A design proposal in collaboration with Sacramento’s
    Downtown Historic Society, CAED Hearst Educational Grant, with Prof David Gillette, Director Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies, 2017-2018.
  • “Design-Build Weather Station for Same, Tanzania, Africa,” with Kevin Dong,
    Harold Hay Environmental Research and Education Grant, 2018-2019.

Selected Awards:

  • 2019 & 2012 Design Intelligence, 25 Most Admired US Educators
  • 2019 Elevated to Fellow, American Institute of Architects
  • 2019 Outstanding Faculty Wang Teaching Award for the California State University System (23 Campuses)
  • 2018 Cal Poly State University Distinguished Teaching Award
  • 2010 ACSA Distinguished Professor Recognition
  • 2010 Cal Poly State University President’s Service Award


​Updated 02.11.22

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