Stephen Phillips

Photo of Stephen Phillips

Position Professor
Office 21-219A (Fall only),
Los Angeles (Winter/Spring)

Areas of Expertise

Architecture Design (Urban Design and Contemporary Digital Design and Fabrication)
Architecture History/Theory (20th and 21st Century Art and Architecture Design Theory and Criticism)
Architecture Practice (Active Residential, Commercial, and Institutional Building Design Practice)


Stephen Phillips is principal architect in the California firm Stephen Phillips Architects (SPARCHS). He is Professor of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Founding Director of the Cal Poly Los Angeles Metropolitan Program in Architecture and Urban Design. He has taught as a Visiting Assistant Professor and Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley and Los Angeles, Southern California Institute of Architecture, and California College of the Arts. Phillips received his B.A. with Distinction in Architecture from Yale University, his M.Arch. with the award for best studio thesis from the University of Pennsylvania, and his Ph.D. in Architecture History/Theory from Princeton University. Phillips publishes and lectures widely on modern design, technology, media, and contemporary urban culture. He is the recipient of numerous awards, grants, and fellowships including those from the Getty Research Institute, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Graham Foundation, the Bruno Zevi Foundation, the AIA, and the ACSA for his projects, teaching, and writing. He is the author of L.A. [Ten]: Interviews on Los Angeles Architecture 1970s-1990s by Lars Müller Publishers, 2014 and Elastic Architecture: Frederick Kiesler and Design Research in the First Age of Robotic Culture by MIT Press, 2017.

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Educational Credentials:

Ph.D. Princeton University, Program in History and Theory, School of Architecture, 2008
M.A.  Princeton University, Program in History and Theory, School of Architecture, 2003
M.Arch. University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Architecture, 1994
B.A. Yale University, Major in Architecture, 1991

Teaching Experience:

Professor, Architecture Dept., California Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA
Visiting Assistant Professor, History/Theory, Architecture Dept., University of California, Los Angeles, CA   
Lecturer, Architecture Dept., University of California, Berkeley, CA 
Lecturer, Architecture Dept., California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA 
Faculty, History/Theory and Design, Architecture Dept., Southern California Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles, CA 
Teaching Assistant, School of Architecture, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 
Teaching Assistant, History/Theory, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 

Professional Experience:

Principal, Stephen Phillips Architects (SPARCHS) - San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, CA
Project Architect/Manager, Senior Designer, William Turnbull Associates/ Turnbull Griffin Haesloop (TGH), San Francisco, CA 
Designer, Cathy Simon, Simon Martin-Vegue Winklestein Moris (SMWM), San Francisco, CA 
Junior Designer, Charles Moore, Moore Ruble Yudell (MRY), Santa Monica, CA 


California Architects Board License, CA 1998-Present

Professional Memberships:

American Institute of Architects (AIA)
Society of Architectural Historians (SAH)


Selected Publications and Recent Research:

  • Elastic Architecture: Frederick Kiesler and Design Research in the First Age of Robotic Culture (Cambridge, MIT Press, 2016).
  • “Enigma: Defamiliarizing the Familiar,”in Patrick Tighe: Designing on the Edge (Seoul: Equal Books, 2015).
  • “Book Review: Adrian Forty Concrete and Culture: A Material History,” JSAH Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 71/3 (University of California Press, September 2014) 417-419.
  • L.A. [Ten]: Interviews on Los Angeles Architecture: 1970s to 1990s, author/editor Stephen Phillips (Zurich, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publications, 2014).
  • “Architecture Industry: The L.A. Ten,” Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990, edited by Wim de Wit and Christopher Alexander (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2013).
  • “A Digital Romance and What’s Next,” in B+U Design Peak 12 (Seoul: Equal Books, 2012).
  • “The Form of Cultural Matters,” The Culture Now Project, edited by Thom Mayne and Karen Lohrmann (Los Angeles: Regents of the University of California, UCLA Department of Architecture & Urban Design, 2012).

Selected Publication Reviews:

  • “L.A. [Ten]: Interviews on Los Angeles Architecture 1970s-1990s by Alan Michelson, In ARLIS/NA: Art Libraries Society of North America (July 2014)
  • “Review: Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990 by Gabrielle Esperdy, In Society of Architectural Historians (July 15, 2014)
  • “Adventurous Los Angeles,” by Michael Webb, In The Architect’s Newspaper (May 12, 2014)
  • “Phillips Interviews L.A. Architects” by Katherine Greenwood, In Princeton Alumni Weekly (March 28, 2014)
  • “There is Still Hope for Architecture Books,”by Aaron Betsky, In Architect: The Magazine of the American Institute of Architects (February 7, 2014)
  • “Book Launch: “ L.A. [Ten]: Interviews on Los Angeles Architecture 1970s to 1990s” Author in Conversation with Aaron Betsky, Sylvia Lavin. By Amelia Taylor-Hochberg, In Archinect (February 6, 2014)

Selected Activities:

  • “Primordial Myths, Galleries, Primitives, and Shelters: Frederick Kiesler’s Magic Architecture,” Magic Architecture: The Story of Human Housing Conference, Princeton University School of Architecture, April 2015; “Technophilia: The L.A. Ten,” Graduate Student Architecture and Design Lecture Series, USC, February 2015
  • “Definition Series: RISK,” Book launch event with Thom Mayne, Eric Moss, Eva Franch, and Stephen Phillips, Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York City, April 2014
  • “Are You In The Industry?” Book launch event with Annie Chu, Joe Day, Neil Denari, Ming Fung, Craig Hodgetts, and Stephen Phillips, Hennessey + Ingalls, Hollywood, February 2014; “L.A. [Ten]: Interviews on Los Angeles Architecture 1970s -1990s,” Book launch event with Aaron Betsky, Sylvia Lavin, Lars Müller and Stephen Phillips, A+D Museum Architecture and Design, Los Angeles, February 2014

Selected Awards:

  • Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Publication Grant, Chicago, IL, 2015
  • Creative Achievement Award, ACSA National Design Education Award, Washington D.C., 2015
  • Verla and Paul Neel Faculty Scholarship, Professional Development, Cal Poly State University, 2013
  • Bruno Zevi Foundation Prize, Special Mention, Best International History and Theory Essay, Rome, Italy, 2011


Updated 09.12.16

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