Architect and scholar Brett Steele has been named the incoming dean of the University of Southern California (USC) School of Architecture. While serving as dean, Steele will also hold the Della & Harry MacDonald Dean’s Chair in Architecture. His appointment goes into effect February 1. Steele’s appointment follows the reign of Milton Curry, who has served as the school’s dean since 2017.
“The interdisciplinarity of the work within the different programs, faculty and curriculums I’ve been involved with in my career is something I very much look forward to building upon in coming to USC, which, as a school of architecture, is remarkable for the breadth and depth of its portfolio of creative activities and professional interests,” Steele said in a press release.
Previously, Steele had been dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, a position he held since 2017. During his tenure at UCLA, Steele oversaw 14 degree-awarding programs across four academic departments. He also steered world-renowned museums including the Hammer Museum, the Fowler Museum at UCLA for World Arts and Cultures, and the Center for the Art of Performance.
While at UCLA, Steele is credited with leading several initiatives that resulted in the school’s highest enrollment of students from diverse backgrounds. He also made strides in making the school’s curricula more inclusive, and increasing civic engagement between UCLA and Los Angeles’s underserved communities.
Prior to his tenure at UCLA, Steele formed his own practice with offices in New York and London. He was also the 19th director of the Architectural Association (AA) School of Architecture, where he received his diploma. At the AA, Steele shepherded well-known projects like Supercritical, a collection of dialogues from Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Jeffrey Kipnis, and Robert E. Somol between 2006 and 2010.
Steele notes that he looks forward to bringing his global perspective to USC. “I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have spent my adult life in New York, London and Los Angeles, cities full of amazing artists and designers and architects, but also full of amazing audiences for that work,” Steele said. “One of my great hopes at USC is for us to build upon this amazing legacy of architecture that’s identified with this great school, but also continue to find ways in which USC plays a vital role in the building of those audiences surrounding architecture and landscape and conservation, and the making of the kind of cities which are genuinely possible here in ways in which it just isn’t in so many different schools and cities around the world.”