Professor Steven Spier

School: School of Critical Studies and Creative Industries
Position: Acting Vice-Chancellor


Professor Steven Spier was Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Kingston University London from September 2012. Previously he was head of the School of Architecture and Design in Belfast after being the founding Vice-Chancellor of a new university of the built environment and metropolitan development in Hamburg: the HafenCity University. He has also been head of the School of Architecture at Strathclyde University in Glasgow.

Professor Spier has had many directorships. He has recently joined the board of Cryptic, a renowned production house that fuses music, sonic art, theatre and multi-media. He was on the board of Scottish Ballet from 2003 to 2012. He was a director on the first board of Architecture and Design Scotland as well as of The Centre, which commissioned renowned artists to work outside of the gallery context.

He has been honoured for his contributions to architecture education with an honorary fellowship of the Royal Incorporation Architects of Scotland (Hon)FRIAS and of the Bund Deutscher Architekten (BDA). He has served on numerous architecture award panels and architect selection panels.

He has a BA in philosophy and a Master of Architecture from SCI-Arc in Los Angeles. He was born in Montreal, grew up in the USA and has lived for the last 20 years in Zurich, Berlin, Hamburg, London and Glasgow. He holds four passports.

Research expertise

Professor Spier has two main research areas. The first is choreography as a spatial organising system. He has pursued this mainly through the work of William Forsythe and is the author of the first English-language book on him: William Forsythe and the Practice of Choreography. It Starts from Any Point. His work in this area has been published in academic journals in the areas of dance, theatre and architecture. He has lectured widely on it. This work has been supported by a variety of research grants.

Professor Spier's second research area is contemporary European architecture, especially Swiss. He is the author of the influential book Swiss Made as well as numerous articles in a variety of academic journals and magazines. This work has been supported by a variety of research grants.

Professional activity

  • 2012 - presentRIBA and RSUA Design Awards Jury
  • 2011 - presentThe New Metropolis, an interdisciplinary journal published by the HafenCity University, Advisory Board
  • 2010 - presentCommonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, Panel of Academic Advisors
  • 2009 - presentAustrian Science Fund (FWF), Peer Review College, Program for Arts-based Research (PEEK)
  • 2009 - 2011The University of Brighton, Chief External Examiner, BA and Master in Architecture
  • 2008 - presentThe Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Quadrennial Evaluation Committee, Institute of Architecture
  • 2006 - 2009The University of Westminster, London, External Examiner, Diploma and Master in Architecture
  • 2006 - 2011London Metropolitan University, External Examiner, Master of Arts Cities, Design & Regeneration
  • 2006Architektur Olympiade Hamburg, Jury Member (Fachjury)
  • 2005RIBA Design Awards Jury, RIAS Representative
  • 2005 - presentAHRA (Architectural Humanities Research Association) board member
  • 2005 - presentJournal for Education in the Built Environment (JEBE), editorial board
  • 2003AHRA (Architectural Humanities Research Association), founder member
  • 2002 - 2005The University of Sheffield, External Examiner, BA and Diploma in Architecture
  • 2001 - 2004Kingston University, London, External Examiner, MA Art & Space

Educational and professional qualifications

  • 1989Master of Architecture Southern California Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles
  • 1981Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy Haverford College, Haverford, PA

Conferences & events

"Choreography and Society"
Department of Dance Research Seminar, Roehampton University, March 2011

"Choreographie und Gesellschaft"
K3' Zentrum für Choregraphie | Tanzplan Hamburg, Hamburg, December 2010.

"The Unfolding of Movement: From Body to Space"
Panelist. Making Worlds / Welten schaffen Conference, Hamburg, November 2009.

"Zusammen oder Getrennt: Stadt & Kultur im Kontext"
Panel Discussion, symposium "Stadt Kultur Hören", Graz, November 2009.

"Widersprüche fördern und fordern' am Beispiel Stadtforschung"
Third annual symposium EXPLORATIONEN 09, Pact Zollverein, Essen, June 2009.

"Sustainability, Urban Development and the Founding of The HCU"
European Forum for Architectural Policies. Organised by the Czech Chamber of Architects together with the Ministry for Regional Development of the Czech Development of the Czech Republic as a part of the official programme of the Czech EU presidency, April 2009.

"E2A: der Ideale Kontext"
Exhibition opening, Architektur Galerie Berlin Werkraum, May 2008.

"Amateur Bodies and Public Choreographies"
Architexture Conference, University of Strathclyde, April 2008.

"Organising the Body in Space"
Defining Space, an International Interdisciplinary Conference, University College Dublin, October 2007.

"Body/Space International Workshop" with guest artist choreographer Krisztina de Chatel and students from architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism.
Invited tutor. Academy of Architecture Amsterdam, 7-12 January 2007.

Grants, funding and awards

  • 2012AHRC Research Grant, Co-investigator, "Communities as Constructs of People and Architecture: Historically Assessing the Spatial Legacy of the Troubles in Inner-City Belfast, 1969-94"
  • 2012 - 2013AHRC Research Grant, "Home Improvements: improving quality and value in the provision of volume house building through architectural knowledge exchange"
  • 2006 - 2008AHRC Research Grant, Principal investigator, "Constructing a Modern Architecture of Excellence: The Case of Switzerland"
  • 2004AHRB, Small Grants in the Creative and Performing Arts, Principal Investigator, "Choreography, Improvisation and Architecture: The Case of William Forsythe and Daniel Libeskind"
  • 2004Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Principal Investigator, "The Built Environment of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. A Survey."
  • 2003CRF/RSE European Visiting Research Fellowship, Awarded by The Royal Society of Edinburgh, taken at IUAV, Venice
  • 2003"The Swiss!" Exhibition, lecture and film series on contemporary Swiss architecture held at Strathclyde University, Supported by Pro Helvetica

Research groups & programmes

External research supervision

  • 2010 - 2013Beatrice Jarvis PhD
    University of Ulster, Belfast
Front cover William Forsythe and the practice of choreography. (Abingdon, U.K.: Routledge, 2011)
Front cover AA files, 59, 2009