Jacob Mans

Associate Professor, Architecture

Jacob Mans is an architect and educator focused on understanding the feedback loops between building-scaled technical systems and large-scaled social and ecological systems. As architects and researchers, we often describe these systems, and study them independently from one another. The reality is that architecture collects, channels, and distributes energy and materials across these immense, powerful and interconnected socio-technical systems. Jacob believes architecture should ask questions and engage in inquiries that affect immense change rather than prioritizing research on the incremental improvement of preexisting architectural questions. Within a socio-technical research framework, a building can no longer be the sole scale of response to the question of building.

Jacob’s research and practice focus on developing high performing socio-technical partnerships that can create more resilient architectures. He is currently conducting design-research projects on affordable housing and economic development with the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Manitoba, Canada (w/ Idle No More); on the development of valued-added manufacturing processes to better utilize low-quality Minnesota wood resources (USFS and Savanna Pallets); on the development of trans-scalar academic, community, and private sector convergence practices through the design development of the RISE (Resilience through Innovation in Sustainable Energy) platform (w/ INESI, UPR, and the emerging RISE network); and, on the housing system redesign with the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnership.

Jacob holds degrees from Luther College (2005), the University of Cincinnati (2010), and Harvard University (2016). Since joining the faculty at the U he has received numerous awards for his educational work including the ARCC’s New Researcher Award (2019) and the AIAS/ACSA ‘s New Faculty Teaching Award (2020). He is a registered architect and founding partner of the Decentralized Design Lab.


Master of Design Studies, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Master of Architecture, University of Cincinnati

Bachelor of Art in Studio Art, Luther College


  • ARCH 5562—Tech 2
  • ARCH 5563—Tech 3

Jacob Mans

Specialties & Expertise:

Leveraging the latent potential of the non-expert.


151H Rapson Hall
89 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Map address