Alan Balfour

Academic; Writer / Architecture / United States / Georgia Institute of Technology, College of Architecture

Educated at Edinburgh and Princeton and a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Alan Balfour is Professor and former Dean of the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), a position he came to after serving as dean of the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was formerly chairman of the Architectural Association in London, and dean of the School of Architecture at Rice University in Houston. Balfour was the year 2000 recipient of the Topaz Medal, the highest recognition given in North America to an educator in architecture.

Balfour's most recent book, Solomon’s Temple: Myth, Conflict, and Faith (Wiley-Blackwell), was published in 2012. It is a study of the constructive and destructive power of religion played out in the myths and realities of one place, Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and a journey through four thousand years of constantly shifting religion and reality in the Middle East. His book Creating a Scottish Parliament, with David McCrone (Finlay Brown, 2005), offers an intimate exploration of the conceptualization of the political structure for a devolved Scotland and the architecture that would symbolize and be the instrument for its advancement.

Though the city is the ostensible subject of Alan Balfour's writing in recent years, his underlying concern has been with exploring the cultural imagination. In 2002 he completed three books on three world cities; in each the city is viewed as the most tangible residue of the complexity of society’s desires. Shanghai was published in 2002 and New York in 2001 (both by Wiley-Academy, London). The first in the series was Berlin published by Academy Editions in 1995, which documents the transformation of Berlin before and after the collapse of the Wall. This and an earlier book, Berlin: The Politics of Order: 1737–1989 (Rizzoli International Publications, 1990), received AIA International Book Awards. Other books include Portsmouth (Studio Vista 1970) and Rockefeller Center: Architecture as Theater (McGraw-Hill, 1978). He also contributed to Recovering Landscape (Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), Cities of Artificial Excavation: The Work of Peter Eisenman (Rizzoli International Publications/CCA, 1994), and The Edge of the Millennium (Cooper-Hewitt, National Museum of Design, Smithsonian Institution/Whitney Library of Design, 1993).

In addition to his role in administration Balfour has continued to teach and this has included master’s design studios at both Harvard Graduate School of Design and MIT.

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