University of Oregon

College of Design

Fifield named ACSA distinguished professor

Monday, February 9, 2015

Professor of architecture Michael Fifield, FAIA, AICP, has been recognized by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) as a Distinguished Professor. This award recognizes sustained creative achievement and the advancement of architectural education through teaching, design, scholarship, research, and service.

Michael FifieldFifield joins a select group of architectural educators nationwide who have had a profound impact upon their students and distinguished themselves as leaders in architectural education. 

A maximum of five awards are given nationally each year. The UO’s Department of Architecture, ranked first in sustainable design nationwide, has the distinction of having one of the highest numbers of ACSA Distinguished Professor Award recipients nationally. Fifield joins other UO ACSA Distinguished Professors Frances Bronet, Judith Sheine, John Reynolds, FAIA, Howard Davis, and Donald Corner. Fifield says he is “humbled” to join these colleagues as well as previous winners of the ACSA Distinguished Professors including nationally recognized architects and educators from other universities such as Charles Moore, Fay Jones, Ralph Rapson, Denise Scott-Brown, Romaldo Giurgola, Gunnar Birkerts, and Christopher Alexander.

Prior to coming to the University of Oregon in 1998 as department head, Professor Fifield was department head at Penn State University as well as director of the Joint Urban Design Program at Arizona State University, where he taught for eleven years.  He currently is director of the Housing Specialization Program in the UO Department of Architecture and teaches housing design studios and subject-area courses including Housing Prototypes, Community Design, and Minimal Dwelling.

“My teaching, research, and service [have] focused on urban/community design and housing,” he stated in his application for the award. “I bring my housing practice, applied research, and work with communities into the classroom to help educate students with real world experiences. Within the housing specialization, we not only address meaningful housing design, but also smart growth and compact design.”

Fifield was recognized for his diverse contributions to education—not only within the academy but also within the profession and community by promoting the value of design excellence in our built environment, as well for his mentorship of students and faculty. Having received numerous professional practice and teaching awards, Fifield says he is most pleased with the significant accomplishments of former students who have gone on to be leaders in the profession.

As a teacher, Fifield stated, “I have placed less emphasis on architecture as a vocation, and more on producing critical thinkers who will aspire to leadership positions in the profession. This is not to say that the nuts and bolts of architecture are not important, in fact the University of Oregon has one of the highest pass rates on the ARE exam of any school of architecture in the country. But what is important is producing leaders in the profession and the community. … It is particularly rewarding to see the influence of my work lead to the career achievements of others, and extend beyond those directly affected, as former students, colleagues and collaborators go on to educate, practice and advocate.”

The president of ACSA will present a medallion and certificate at the 103rd ACSA Annual meeting in Toronto later this year.  Recipients become Fellows of the College of Distinguished Professors of Architecture and may use the title ACSA Distinguished Professor, DPACSA in perpetuity.

Story by A&AA Communications