Press Room

  • Photo courtesy the University of Texas at Austin.

Frederick Steiner Named Dean of PennDesign

Frederick “Fritz” Steiner will be the next dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, effective July 1. 

The announcement was made today by Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price.

Steiner, who will also be the Paley Professor at Penn, is an acclaimed scholar and teacher and a proven leader who presently serves as dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. He holds two master’s degrees and a doctoral degree, in city and regional planning, from PennDesign, and he has also been a research scholar at the Penn Institute for Urban Research since 2013.

At UT Austin, where he holds the Henry M. Rockwell Chair in Architecture and has a courtesy appointment in the Department of Geography and the Environment, Steiner leads a school with nearly 70 faculty and teaching staff and nearly 700 students across a variety of disciplines and professions, including architecture, community and regional planning, historic preservation, interior design, landscape architecture, sustainable design and urban design. During his 15-year tenure, the number of the School’s endowments has nearly doubled, a new Center for Sustainable Development and new degree programs in landscape architecture and interior design were created and the school’s buildings and physical plant were expanded and modernized. 

Before moving to Austin as dean in 2001, Steiner served for 12 years at Arizona State University as director of the School of Planning and Landscape Architecture. While there, he led efforts to elevate the department to school status, developed a college-wide interdisciplinary doctoral program in environmental design and planning, won accreditation for degree programs in planning and landscape architecture and created an undergraduate program in landscape architecture.

He earlier served as a faculty member and director of the Center for Built Environment Studies at the University of Colorado Denver and on the faculty of Washington State University. 

A Fellow of both the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, Steiner has written, edited or co-edited 17 books, including two editions of the widely used and frequently translated The Living Landscape: An Ecological Approach to Landscape Planning and influential edited volumes with and on Ian McHarg, the celebrated landscape architect and founder of Penn’s Department of Landscape Architecture.

Steiner has been a visiting professor of landscape architecture at Tsinghua University in Beijing; a Fulbright-Hays Scholar at Wageningen University, the Netherlands; and a Rome Prize Fellow in Historic Preservation at the American Academy in Rome. 

“I am excited and honored to return to Penn as dean of PennDesign,” Steiner said. “This is an exciting time for students, scholars and practitioners in architecture, city and regional planning, preservation, landscape architecture and the fine arts. As a Penn Design alumnus and a research scholar at the Penn Institute for Urban Research, I have a particular appreciation for the talented community of faculty, staff, students and alumni that is PennDesign. I look forward to working with all members of the PennDesign community, and with colleagues across campus and around the nation and the world, to bring PenDesign to even greater heights of success.”

“Fritz Steiner has a long and distinguished track record as a scholar, teacher and administrator,” Gutmann said. “His work crosses traditional disciplinary and professional boundaries. 

“Because of his deep and abiding connection to PennDesign, his appreciation of the School’s impressive history and his excitement to contribute to its bright and compelling future, we look forward to working with him as he collaborates with faculty, staff, students, overseers and alumni to build on Penn Design’s incredibly strong foundation.”

“Our selection of Fritz Steiner as the next dean of PennDesign successfully concludes a comprehensive global search to identify a successor to Marilyn Jordan Taylor, who is stepping down after serving as dean since 2008,” Price said. “Under Marilyn’s leadership, PennDesign’s faculty and student body grew more interdisciplinary, eminent and diverse; new interdisciplinary teaching and research initiatives were created, including the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy; and the School’s facilities were modernized and upgraded.”

Media Contact: Michael Grant, mrgrant@design.upenn.edu, 215.898.2539.