Michael Austin Lucas, RA



Position Emeritus Professor
Phone TBD
Email mlucas@calpoly.edu
Office TBD

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 served as CAED Associate Dean for Academic Affairs 2014-2017, and twice as Associate Department Head. As Faculty Emeritus, he will continue on campus Fall and Winter quarters through 2022, teaching EDES 123, ARCH/ES 326 Native American Architecture and Place, and in Fall 2018, Second Year Design.

He resides in the coastal town of Morro Bay, where he is Vice Chair of the Planning Commission.


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.

  • "Vibrant Seeing; Abstraction from the Concrete Commonplace" Invited chapter [in review] in Space: Within and Around , Weiling He, ed. [anticipated publication 2019]
  • "Tripling in Architectural Design" Invited chapter [in preparation] in Writing from the Irigaray Circle , Ruthann Crapo, ed. [anticipated publication 2019]. 
  • "New Alchemy: Speculative Realism and Beginning Design" Invited chapter in Promoting Creative Thinking in Beginning Design Studios, ed. Stephen Temple, Routledge, 2018
  • "Immanence Transcendence and Emptiness: A [Shaking] Minimal, Pastoral, Second Life" Contemplating Warehouses and Worship: CAVAD Architecture Symposium, Riverside, California, October, 2018
  • "Facelift: Aesthetics of Poiesis, Spatial Praxis and Material Continuity at Ohkay Owingeh and Zuni" Thirty-Fifth Annual Meeting Rocky Mountain Division of the American Society for Aesthetics, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July, 2018
  • "The Possibility of Nature Between Jan Patočka and Timothy Morton", presented at Phenomenology and Aesthetics: The 3rd Conference on Traditions and Perspectives of the Phenomenological Movement in Central and Eastern Europe, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia, Riga, July 2017.
  • "Beyond the Stones of St Denis and Pueblo Bonito: Realism, Transcendence and the Otherness of Nature" presentation at the 23rd International Medieval Conference, University of Leeds, UK, July, 2017.
  • "She Speaks in Threes: Irigaray at the Threshold between Phenomenology and Speculative Realism [Tripling in Architectural Design]" presented at the 8th Conference of the Irigaray Circle, The Institute for Theological Partnerships, University of Winchester, UK, June 2017.
  • "Violet Light Meets a Saffron Sky: Poiesis for Beginning Designers" presented at 33rd Annual Meeting, Rocky Mountain Division, american Society of Aesthetics, Santa Fe, NM, July 2016.
  • "The Projective Phenomenology of Transformational Infrastructure: a Case Study of Morro Bay" presented at ICNAP VI: Phenomenology and Sustainability: Interdisciplinary Inquiries in the Lived-World of Persons, Communities and the Natural World, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, May, 2016.
  • "Presence Before Representation: Making-in-the-World as the Beginning of Beginning Design" presented at ICNAP VI: Phenomenology and Sustainability: Interdisciplinary Inquiries in the Lived-World of Persons, Communities and the Natural World, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, May, 2016.
  • “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:

  • Honored as One of 'Twenty-Five Admired Educators' by Design Intelligence Magazine, 2016
  • Cal Poly Distinguished Teaching Award
  • Architecture Department Faculty Merit Award
  • Associated Collegiate Schools of Architecture Service Award
  • CAED Service Award


Updated 09.11.18

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