Michael Austin Lucas, RA


Position Professor/Associate Dean, Academic Affairs
Phone 805.756.1311
Fax 805.756.1500
Email mlucas@calpoly.edu
Office 05-214B

Areas of Expertise

Architectural Design
Applied Phenomenology/Eco-phenomenology
Vernacular Architecture
Native American Architecture
Place Theory


Born outside Pittsburgh, he recalls summers with his Grandparents on their tree farm amid Amish and Mennonite neighbors on the western side of the Appalachians. As a steelworker at Pittsburgh’s Homestead Works during several collegiate summers, he added a love for the industrial vernacular. He obtained his Bachelor of Architecture degree at Cincinnati.

Initially his professional career focused on practice with firms in the Ohio River Valley and Chesapeake Bay regions, establishing a portfolio of sensitive modern urban interventions in the Riverfront Historic District of Covington, Kentucky, Mt Adams Historic District in Cincinnati, Fell’s Point, Canton, Federal Hill, and Mt. Vernon Historic Districts in Baltimore, and the Patapsco River mill village of Oella, Maryland. From the mid 1980’s he specialized in K-12 and University projects across the mid-Atlantic. Built work where he acted as designer earned awards from Cincinnati, Central Pennsylvania, and Baltimore Chapters of the American Institute of Architects, and received publication in Progressive Architecture and Better Homes and Gardens magazines. He retains professional registration in Maryland, and acts as a consultant for regional non-profit and community groups.

Following his Master of Architecture degree at Morgan State in Baltimore, his career has focused on teaching. He has taught at Cal Poly since 1997. His classes have included Thesis Design Lab and Research Seminar [1998-2010], Universal Design/Architecture and the Body, and Native American Architecture and Place, which is cross-listed with the Ethnic Studies Department. He received the Cal Poly Distinguished Teacher Award in 2008, the first professor from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design to be so honored in almost twenty years. In 2009 he was asked to restructure the Beginning Design sequence that he coordinated 2009-13.

He has previously been appointed Associate Department Head, and is currently serving as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for CAED. He teaches the foundational EDES 101 and ARCH 101 courses.

He resides in the coastal town of Morro Bay, where he is a Planning Commissioner.


Educational Credentials:

M. Arch, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
B. Arch, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH   

Teaching Experience:

Professor, Dept. of Architecture, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA
Associate Professor, Dept. of Architecture, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA 
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Architecture, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA 
London Studies Program/International Studies, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA 
Director, Summer Career Workshop (High School Program), Cal Poly, SLO 
Institute for Architecture and Planning, Morgan State University (long term sub) 

Professional Experience:

Planning Commissioner, City of Morro Bay, CA
Sole Proprietor, 3 Dog Studio, Morro Bay, CA Pro-bono Architectural/Planning Consultation, 
Sole Proprietor, Bush River Studio, Baltimore, MD and Abingdon, MD 
Senior Associate/ Studio Leader/ Project Architect, Murphy and Dittenhafer Architects, Baltimore, MD and York, PA 
Senior Associate/ Project Architect/Manager, Probst-Mason Architects, Baltimore, MD;   
Senior Associate/ Project Architect/Manager, Cooke and Assoc., Baltimore, MD; Senior Associate 
Project Architect/Manager, Richter, Cornbrooks and Gribble, Baltimore, MD 
Senior Associate/ Project Architect/Manager, Marks, Thomas and Assoc., Baltimore, MD 
Project Designer, Thomas Heffley Assoc, Cincinnati, OH 


Registered Architect, State of Maryland

Professional Memberships:

Member, American Philosophic Association [APA]
Member, International Congress of Phenomenology
Member, International Society for Environmental Ethics [ISEE]
Member, International Association for Environmental Philosophy [IAEP]
Member, Intl Association for the Study of Environment, Space and Place
Member, Northwest Society of Architectural Historians
Member, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture [ACSA]
Member, Far West Popular Culture Association.


Michael’s research is in the area of human development and spatial concept formation, place, and identity, specifically looking at the junction of individual tacit, phenomenological, and intuitive knowing with cultural conventions and disclosure of architectural and environmental attitudes. His studies focused initially on Pacific Northwest and Puebloan Native American, and 20th century American vernacular situations. These interests have developed into the areas of eco-phenomenology, and environmental ethics, and expanded to settings as diverse as Finland, Turkey, and the UK, as well as application in his pedagogy. 

Selected Publications and Recent Research: 

He has presented his findings at venues of the American Philosophic Association, International Association of Environmental Philosophy, International Institute for Applied Aesthetics, International Qualitative Research Association, British Psychological Society, European Society of Environmental History, Society for Phenomenology and Media, American Popular Culture Association, Pecos Conference on Southwest Archeology, Northwest Society of Architectural Historians, and Gran Quivira Conference on Spanish Colonial Studies and Borderlands Research, Associated Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, and National Conference of the Beginning Design Student.

  • “Between Ataraxia and Hēdonē: Affective Architecture.” Paper presented at the Second Annual Conference of The European Philosophical Society for the Study of Emotions [EPSSE],  University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, July 2015.
  • “Intergenerational Ethics and Transformational Infrastructure: a Case Study at Morro Bay.” Paper presented at International Association for Environmental Ethics [IAEE], Environmental Ethics: Between Action and Reflection, Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel, Germany, July 2015.
  • “Contested Place: An Ecophenomenological Battle for Cerrito Peak.” Paper presented at the Special International Association for Environmental Philosophy Session
  • International Association for Environmental Ethics [IAEE], Environmental Ethics: Between Action and Reflection, Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel, Germany, July 2015.
  • “Three Stacks and a Rock: Monuments of Morro Bay.” Paper presented at the Far West Popular/American Culture Association, Las Vegas, NV, February, 2015.
  • “Ethics and Aesthetics of Recycled Water: A Flat Ontology Primer for a Small Coastal Town.” Paper presented at the International Society for Environmental Ethics at the American Philosophic Association Pacific Meeting, San Diego, April 2014.
  • “Regrounding in Place: Native American Place as Gateway to Truths at the Margins” in Canadian Journal of Environmental Education Volume 18 :Removing Margins to Environmental Education ed. Constance Russell and Leesa Fawcett, Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication, 2014.

Selected Activities:

  • Planning Commissioner, City of Morro Bay
  • International Editorial Board, Megaron, Journal of the Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul
  • Cal Poly Native American/Indigenous Faculty Association

Selected Awards:

  • Cal Poly Distinguished Teaching Award
  • Architecture Department Faculty Merit Award
  • Associated Collegiate Schools of Architecture Service Award
  • CAED Service Award


Updated 09.12.16

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