Stefan Al is an architect, urban designer, scholar, educator, and author, currently serving as Associate Professor of Urban Design at the University of Pennsylvania.

In his research, Professor Al aims to understand contemporary issues in architecture and urbanism, such as compact city form, urbanization in developing countries, new forms of consumerism, and adapting cities to climate change. His recent sole-authored book The Strip: Las Vegas and the Architecture of the American Dream (The MIT Press) investigates the city’s experiments with architecture and branding. He is acclaimed for his work on Asian urbanism with published books investigating China’s informal settlements and Hong Kong’s compact urban form, including Factory Towns of South China, Villages in the City, Mall City, and Macau and the Casino Complex. He co-authored the book Beyond Mobility, making the case to connect people with places through transit-oriented development. His latest research is focused on designing compact and more resilient cities, most notably in his forthcoming book Adapting Cities to Sea Level Rise. Besides his academic publications, his work has been featured in influential media outlets including The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Marketplace, and Dezeen.

Al’s career as a practicing architect includes work on renowned projects such as the 2,000-feet high Canton Tower in Guangzhou, the preservation of world heritage in Latin America at the World Heritage Center of UNESCO, and an 11,000-acre new eco-friendly city in India. He has also served as an advisor to the Hong Kong government, consulting on the development of the city’s harbor and external lighting guidelines, the Chinese government, advising on new urban design guidelines, and the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

At the University of Pennsylvania, Professor Al teaches Fundamentals of Urban Design, Site Planning, and various Urban Design Studios dealing with urban design and sustainability challenges.  He also co-teaches an online Coursera class, Designing Cities, with more than 70,000 students.

Al holds a doctorate in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley, an M.Arch. from The Bartlett, and an M.Sc. in Architecture with distinction from Delft University of Technology. He is an EU-licensed architect and a LEED Accredited Professional. He is a native of the Netherlands.

Founding Member, Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design
Member, American Planning Association
Fellow, Urban Design Forum
Member, Urban Land Institute
Member, Royal Institute of Dutch Architects
Member, Architectural Association
Fellow, Penn Institute of Urban Research
LEED Accredited Professional, U.S. Green Building Council

Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, City and Regional Planning, 2010
M.Arch. University College London, Architecture, Graduated with Merit, 2005
M.Sc. Delft University of Technology, Architecture, Graduated with Distinction, 2003
ETSAB Barcelona School of Architecture, Architecture, Erasmus Program, 2002

Associate Professor of Urban Design, Department of City and Regional Planning, The University of Pennsylvania, 2013 – present
Assistant Professor & Director, Urban Design Program, Department of Urban Planning and Design, The University of Hong Kong, 2010-2012

Recent publications

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