Thomas Fisher

Professor, Architecture

Director of the Minnesota Design Center

Director of MSMD

Dayton Hudson Chair in Urban Design

Thomas Fisher, a graduate of Cornell University in architecture and Case Western Reserve University in intellectual history, was previously the Editorial Director of Progressive Architecture magazine. Recognized in 2005 as the fifth most published writer about architecture in the United States, he has written 12 books, over 60 book chapters or introductions, and over 450 articles in professional journals and major publications. Named a top-25 design educator four times by Design Intelligence, he has lectured at over 50 universities and over 150 professional and public meetings. He has written extensively about urban design, system design, and ethics. His newest books include The Architecture of Ethics (Routledge, 2019) and The International Geodesign Collaboration, Changing Geography by Design (ESRI Press, 2020), which he edited with Carl Steinitz and Brian Orland.



Bachelor of Architecture, Cornell University

Master of Arts, Intellectual History, Case Western Reserve University

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Selected Scholarship

My recent research has focused on how human-centered design can help us reimagine the dysfunctional, unsustainable, and inequitable systems that affect our daily lives. I am particularly interested in identifying “fracture-critical” systems vulnerable to sudden failure and in creating more equitable and resilient systems that can withstand unexpected disruptions.


I teach three courses in the School of Architecture, a required graduate-level class on architectural theory, another elective graduate-level class on urban design, and a required undergraduate class on urban design. I have also been teaching a venture-design class as one of the university’s “grand challenges” courses.

Selected Honors and Awards

  • ACSA Distinguished Professor, College of Distinguished Professors, 2019
  • Minnesota Book Awards, non-fiction nomination, 2017
  • Alpha Rho Chi, Gold Medal, 2016
  • School of Architecture, Graduate Student Award, Best Teacher, 2006, 2007
  • College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Research Award, 2004

Thomas Fisher

Tom Fisher

Specialties & Expertise:

Urban Design, Ethics, Theory, Criticism


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