Dr. Steffen Lehmann, AIA RIBA RAIA BDA AoU, (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, and CEO of the Future Cities Leadership Lab. (see links below)
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 on local challenges of the American Southwest and the Southern Nevada region; however, the location of the School only one mile from The Strip situates the SoA in an international, global context. Given its distinctive focus on design for arid desert climates, the School of Architecture has a strong 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 (UK), a nationally and internationally awarded, multidisciplinary research centre with a membership of 40 researchers that focuses on urban sustainability and resilience questions relating to the built environment.
Prior to this, for 14 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 in Australia, he was responsible for over 3,000 students and 150 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.
Strategic leadership of Schools of Architecture: Steffen has led schools of architecture in the U.S. and in Australia:
- 2018-present: Director of the School of Architecture, University of Nevada Las Vegas (USA)
- 2014-2016: Head of School of Design & the Built Environment, Perth (Australia)
- 2002-2006: Chair, Department of Architecture, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane (Australia)
Over the last 18 years, he has been a tenured full professor on three continents: 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; Tianjin University in China, 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 (UK).
After completing a Master’s degree in Germany in 1988, Steffen graduated with the AA Diploma from the Architectural Association School in London (1991, enabled by a DAAD scholarship), and later completed a Ph.D. in Architecture and Urbanism at the Technical University in Berlin (2003). Before establishing his own practice Steffen Lehmann Architekten & Staedtebau GmbH in 1993 in Berlin, he worked with Pritzker-Prize winners James Stirling in London and Arata Isozaki in Tokyo.
Steffen became a licensed architect in Berlin, Germany, in 1993 and has a deep understanding of architectural practice. In January 1993, he founded Steffen Lehmann Architekten & Staedtebau 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.
In 2020, he is publishing two new forthcoming books and editing one journal:
- ‘Urban Informality’ DiRaimo A., Lehmann S., Melis A. (eds) (Routledge, 2020)
- ‘Resilient Communities’ Lehmann S. and Melis A. (eds) (D-Editore and Biennale of Architecture, in Venice, 2020)
- Journal of Sustainability, Special Issue Editor (with Prof Mike Jenks, UK): ‘Pathways to Sustainable Urban Form: Compact Cities Re- Imagined’
Steffen is a very productive research leader. He 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 total $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 (AoU), and has been appointed to 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, International Advisory Board for the Italian Pavilion, 17th International Biennale of Architecture in Venice, Italy (2019-20)
- 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, Stuttgart, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Abu Dhabi, Ho-Chi-Minh City, Oslo, Helsinki, Brighton, Southend, Las Vegas 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.
In the last 30 years, Prof Lehmann has presented over 500 times at public events, conferences and symposia, including over 100 invited keynote addresses.
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, reconnecting with alumni and donors, 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.