Announcing Brett Steele as Dean of the USC School of Architecture

Dear USC School of Architecture Community,

On behalf of President Folt, I am pleased to announce that we will welcome Brett Steele as dean of the USC School of Architecture, effective February 1, 2024. Dean Steele will hold the Della & Harry MacDonald Dean’s Chair in Architecture.

An American and nationalized British citizen, Dean Steele will join us from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he has served as dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture since 2017. Prior to his tenure at UCLA, from 2005 to 2017, Dean Steele was the director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA School) in London, where he served as both the academic leader and chief executive.

As dean of the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture, Dean Steele oversaw 14 degree-awarding programs in four academic departments, two world-renowned museums, and the Center for the Art of Performance. He was the inaugural Convenor of the Chancellor’s Council for the Arts, and the first architect to be dean of the interdisciplinary school, whose public audience at exhibits, performances, and special events makes the school one of the largest platforms for the advancement of contemporary performance, art, architecture, and design on the West Coast. The school’s visibility and strategic aims necessitated renovations and improved facilities, and under Dean Steele’s leadership, the school successfully exceeded fundraising goals to improve facilities and enhance student and faculty support. Dean Steele has also guided the successful expansion of the school’s footprint in Los Angeles, including the acquisition and renovation of the newly launched UCLA Nimoy Theater in Westwood, and completion of the UCLA Margo Leavin Graduate Arts Studios in Culver City.

Dean Steele has a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and at the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture, he has led several strategic initiatives that have resulted in the school’s highest enrollments of students from diverse backgrounds, as well as the revision of program curricula to be more inclusive. During his tenure, the school has also grown its efforts in civic engagement, with attention paid to communities often underrepresented in higher education. His commitment to access has resulted in UCLA Arts and other public programs in which over 50,000 school-aged children participate annually.

As director of the Architectural Association, Dean Steele oversaw all full and part-time academic programs, the association’s global membership, and two subsidiary companies – AA Publications and the Hooke Park Educational Trust. He led a strategic plan that doubled the size of the historic Georgian campus in Bedford Square, launched and led efforts to fund, design, and build a new rural campus in Hooke Park, and launched a worldwide Visiting School that operated annually across five continents and in more than 50 cities. His interdisciplinary approach is exemplified in the creation of an innovative Ph.D. by design program and new taught master’s programs, including Projective Cities and the AA Interprofessional Studio, a M.A./M.F.A. program that explores genre-defying spatial performances and constructions throughout phases of research, design, and production. Prior to being elected AA director, he also designed and led the AA’s first accredited Master of Architecture program, the AA Design Research Lab, an influential, team-based, interdisciplinary studio he led for eight years.

Prior to his leadership roles at UCLA and AA, Dean Steele was the founder and managing director of the desArchLab in London; a project architect for Zaha Hadid Architects; and a project architect and planner in New York. He is an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts. His scholarly interests reflect his innovative spirit: Dean Steele’s research has focused on the modern history and contemporary conditions of architecture, art education, and culture.

Dean Willow Bay will continue to serve as interim dean of the School of Architecture until Dean Steele’s arrival. I would like to express our deep gratitude to Dean Bay for her steadfast leadership and continued dedication to the School of Architecture community during this extended search. She and members of her team from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism have provided necessary support with which we could not have done without.

My sincere thanks also goes to the School of Architecture dean search advisory committee, co-chaired by Dana Goldman, dean of the USC Price School of Public Policy, and Ginger Clark, director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching, both of whom provided thoughtful service through a lengthy process. Our search also benefitted from the input and participation of so many members of the USC School of Architecture community, including students, staff, and faculty, as well as the USC School of Architecture Board of Councilors and the Architecture Guild, whose feedback throughout the process has demonstrated their commitment to the school and its community.

Please join President Folt and me as we welcome Brett Steele to USC in his new role as the next dean of the USC School of Architecture. We are excited for the innovative spirit, extensive experience, and practical expertise he will bring to our community.


Andrew T. Guzman
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

cc: Office of the President
Academic Deans
President’s Senior Leadership Team
Provost’s Leadership Team
Academic Senate
Staff Assembly
GSG President
USG President