Brett Steele, director of London's Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA), one of the world’s oldest and most influential schools of architecture, has been appointed dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh announced today.
As dean, Steele will oversee the school’s leading programs in art; architecture and urban design; design and media arts; and world arts and cultures and dance; as well as the school’s two acclaimed museums — the Fowler and Hammer museums — and the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, its groundbreaking performing arts program.
“Chancellor [Gene] Block and I are confident that Brett will provide outstanding leadership as dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture,” Waugh said in announcing Steele's appointment.
Professor Steele has served as the academic leader and chief executive of the AA since 2005. He will assume leadership of the school at UCLA effective August 15, 2017, and succeed David Roussève, who has served as interim dean since July 2015.
“I am honored and excited to be appointed dean and to join the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture,” Steele said. “I look forward to working with everyone across all four of the brilliant departments in the school and with the inspiring directors and their teams at each of the incredible public arts units. My thanks go especially to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Waugh and Chancellor Block for this wonderful opportunity to lead an inspiring and unique school forward as part of the university’s larger mission.”
As director of the AA, Steele oversees all full- and part-time academic and public programs at its London location and at the school’s rural campus at Hooke Park in Dorset. He also directs the association’s two subsidiary companies: AA Publications — a major architectural publishing house with a long tradition of featuring the work of leading and experimental artists, architects and scholars — and the Hooke Park Educational Trust, an AA educational facility for design-, workshop-, construction- and landscape-focused activities that develop new rural architectures and an ethic of material self-sufficiency.
In January 2008, professor Steele launched the AA Visiting School in Dubai and a worldwide network of short courses and design research workshops, which annually enroll visiting students from more than 50 cities and territories across five continents.
During his tenure, Steele also initiated an innovative M.A./M.F.A. program — the AA Interprofessional Studio — which explores alternative forms of interdisciplinary collaboration through the research, conception, design and production of genre-defying construction and spatial performance. By challenging the relationship between art and architecture through the creation of unique project-events — dance, theater, musical performances, exhibitions and festivals — the studio encourages students to develop a language for communicating across creative disciplines.
In 1996-97, Steele co-founded the Design Research Lab, the AA’s first-ever, full-time master of architecture program, which he designed around principles of networked studio life and digital design platforms. He led the lab for eight years before becoming director of the school. Prior to his tenure at the AA, he was a project architect at Zaha Hadid Architects, founder and managing director of desArchLab in London, and a project architect and planner in New York.
Professor Steele’s scholarly interests focus on the modern history and contemporary conditions of architecture and art education and culture. An honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, he has written extensively on the expansive environments of today’s electronic, computational and amplified studios and networks in design. He is a frequent lecturer at universities, cultural centers and creative practices worldwide on architecture, design and the arts within larger public, political and professional fields.
Professor Steele is the founder and series editor of Architecture Words, which has published the writings of many of the world’s leading architects, designers and scholars, including faculty members of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. He is the author of more than 200 publications and editor of six books, including “Supercritical: Peter Eisenman & Rem Koolhaas,” “First Works: Emerging Architectural Experimentation of the 1960s and 1970s,” and “O-14: Projection and Reception.”
An American architect and naturalized British citizen, Steele grew up in Oregon and southeastern Idaho. He received his diploma in architecture from the AA and studied at the University of Oregon, the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, and the San Francisco Center for Architecture and Urban Studies at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Steele and his wife, Natasha, have two young children, Stella and Leo. Steele is an avid long-distance runner and fly fisherman.
“I am absolutely thrilled to pass the leadership baton on to Brett Steele as the next dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture,” said Roussève. “I cannot imagine anyone better qualified and more uniquely suited to move our dynamic school forward at this critical juncture in its evolution. As our newly reformed school continues to build community and momentum around a reinvigorated vision and commitment to creative excellence and collaboration across disciplines, I look forward to working closely with Brett on what I am confident will be a smooth transition.”