Dr. Steffen Lehmann, AIA RIBA, (born in Stuttgart, Germany) is an internationally recognized educator, scholar, author, designer, and strategic leader. He is Director of the UNLV School of Architecture and tenured full Professor of Architecture. He is also Co-Director of the interdisciplinary Urban Futures Lab.
As Director of the School of Architecture, Professor Lehmann and his leadership team are translating their strategic outlook into programmatic initiatives and impact, dealing with a rapidly changing profession and transforming society. The SoA teaching model focuses mainly on local challenges of the American Southwest and the Southern Nevada region; but, at the same time, the location of the School only one mile from The Strip situates the SoA in an international, global context. Given its distinctive focus, there is an opportunity for the School of Architecture to have an even greater voice nationally and globally.
Before joining UNLV, Steffen Lehmann was the Chair holder of the UNESCO Chair for Sustainable Urban Development for the Asia-Pacific Region. He has held senior positions in several universities across Europe, Asia and America; including as tenured full Professor of Research and Innovation at the University of Portsmouth (UK), and the University of South Australia, where he led the university-wide theme ‘Sustainable Cities’; and as Founding Director of the Cluster for Sustainable Cities, a group with a membership of 40 researchers with an interest in urban resilience.
Prior to this, for over 13 years he was a full professor and Chair at leading universities in Australia, where he served in a range of senior leadership roles, including Director of Research. As Head of School, he was responsible for over 3,000 students and 200 academic, professional and casual staff, with offshore programs in Malaysia and Hong Kong. He led significant teaching reforms that improved student outcomes and increased research output by over 35% a year, quality and impact by building on existing areas of strength.
Over the last 17 years, he has been a tenured full professor in the U.S., in the UK, and in Australia. He was invited as Visiting Professor at the University of California Berkeley, TU Munich (DAAD Professor), TU Berlin, NUS Singapore, Tongji University Shanghai; and in 2018- 20 he is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University in China; and a Visiting Professor at the University of Portsmouth.
In 1991, Steffen graduated with the AA Diploma from the Architectural Association School in London, and completed a Ph.D. in Architecture and Urbanism at the Technical University in Berlin. Before establishing his own practice Steffen Lehmann Architekten GmbH in Berlin, he worked with Pritzker-Prize winners James Stirling in London and Arata Isozaki in Tokyo.
Steffen became a licensed architect in Berlin in 1993 and has a deep understanding of architectural practice. In January 1993, he founded Steffen Lehmann Architekten GmbH as a collective architectural practice engaged in cross-disciplinary research and design. Under Steffen’s direction, the firm has been able to build a construction budget of almost $1b. Over ten years, he was actively involved in the urban creation of the 'New Berlin'. His work was the subject of various group and solo exhibitions throughout the world, including a solo exhibition at the Bauhaus in Dessau, and at AEDES Gallery in Berlin. As Founding Principal and thought leader of the practice, Steffen provides overall vision and project leadership to the firm. Most of his built work is the result of winning design competitions for historically significant places, including large office complexes at Potsdamer Platz, Pariser Platz, and the Quarter at the Museumsinsel Berlin. His buildings and project designs have been published extensively, and the firm has been the subject of two monographs.
He has dedicated his long and distinguished career as an architect and urban designer to social impact through the improvement of cities’ public spaces, most recently as the founder of the UNLV-based Urban Futures Lab. Steffen has published 20 books with prestigious publishers, and countless (300+) articles and papers on architecture and sustainable urban development. In the 1990s he coined the concept of Green Urbanism. His research is in the field of urban resilience, sustainable architectural and urban design; his pioneering work is best known for his holistic view of urbanization and for actively promoting sustainability. His work has been devoted, over the last 25 years to understanding and unraveling the principles of the modern metropolis and its urban system.
Steffen was founding director of 2 successful research centers at the University of South Australia, and Principal Investigator of several large multidisciplinary grants. His centers generated and managed over $15 million in research funding; he has been a lead or co-investigator on over 20 research projects. Projects include:
- Lead-PI for 'Crunch - The Food-Water-Energy Nexus' $ 2 mill (funded by the Belmont Forum, ESRC, AHRC, NSF).
- Co-PI for 'PlastiCity - Plastic recycling in Cities' $ 6.5 mill (funded by EU Interreg).
- Lead-PI for 'Urban Microclimates: Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide' $ 1.5 mill (funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living and the participating cities).
In recognition of the international significance of his work, he held from 2008 to 2010 the UNESCO Chair for Sustainable Urban Development in the Asia- Pacific. He is currently a member of 5 editorial boards of academic journals, the editor of a Routledge book series, a member of the AIA, RIBA, and RAIA. He is an Elected Member of the Academy of Urbanism and has sat on the board of various public organizations, including the UN’s reference group for the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Member, American Institute of Architects (2018-)
- Member, Resilience Network, American Institute of Architects (2019-)
- Member, Research and Scholarship Committee, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, ACSA (2019-20)
- Member of the International Advisory Board for the Italian Pavilion ‘Resilient communities’ at the 17th International Biennale of Architecture in Venice, Italy (May to Nov. 2020)
- Board Member and Education Liaison, AIA Las Vegas Board of Directors, Nevada (2020-)
Since 1991, he has taught urban and architectural design studios and research methods in 6 countries, and won the Award for Teaching Excellence at the University of Newcastle. Steffen has advised over a dozen of cities on sustainable urban development, including Berlin, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Abu Dhabi, Ho-Chi-Minh City, Oslo, Helsinki, Brighton, Southend, and Reno.
Since 2003, Steffen has advised numerous Ph.D. students and postdoctoral Research Fellows as Primary Supervisor (12 Ph.D. students and 3 post- doctoral fellows). As Head of School he oversaw a cohort of 85 Ph.D. students. He is mentoring early career researchers, providing them with opportunities within his research groups and ongoing projects.
Steffen is an experienced leader and his focus as Director of the UNLV School of Architecture and Chair of the School Executive Board is on strategic growth, promoting entrepreneurship, developing a new Metropolitan Planning graduate program, establishing Global Studio study abroad programs, and enabling relevant innovation and impact to deliver on the TOP TIER Plan.
His vision for the SoA is to be outward looking and forward thinking, while collaboratively building upon the existing scholarly and educational ecosystem that values multiple perspectives and practices. His fund-raising initiatives establish and support a vision for the School that is coordinated with the aims of the College and University as a whole.