Portrait of Assistant Professor Lukas Pauer

08.02.24 - Lukas Pauer wins 2024 AIAS/ACSA New Faculty Teaching Award

Lukas Pauer, an Assistant Professor and inaugural Emerging Architect Fellow at the Daniels Faculty, has been awarded the 2024 AIAS/ACSA New Faculty Teaching Award.  

The annual award, sponsored jointly by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), recognizes excellence and innovation in teaching during the formative years of an architectural teaching career. 

Pauer, who originally joined the Faculty as an Adjunct Professor in 2021, is also the founding director of the Vertical Geopolitics Lab (VGL), an investigative practice and think-tank at the intersections of architecture, geography, politology and media dedicated to exposing intangible systems and hidden agendas within the built environment. 

“All of my courses relate to aspects of space and power in the built environment but range in scale from the built object to the city or the polity,” says Pauer. “A key component of my academic practice is to serve the empowerment of marginalized, underrepresented, and vulnerable individuals and communities.” 

A scene from the Counterhegemonic Architecture thesis research studio course during a visit to the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal.

When it comes to his pedagogical approach, Pauer emphasizes removing hierarchical barriers between instructors and students. “I focus on the fact that they [students] will soon become my colleagues, often in just a few years’ time. Rather than a rigid hierarchy with instructors and critics being the sole possessors of knowledge, I want to open it up and make more horizontal dialogues possible.” 

This dialogue proves particularly useful in the context of studio-based learning. “Especially in design, there are often multiple approaches to solving problems, which is why I tend to actively encourage my students to challenge me,” he says, adding: “I often ask students to comment on each other’s projects individually. By inviting students to have just as much of a voice, the studio not only becomes an inclusive but also an authentic environment in which future practitioners can meet to inspire and learn from each other.” 

At Daniels, Pauer teaches at both the graduate and undergraduate level, including a year-long Master of Architecture (MARC) design research studio that investigates space and power in an effort to expose, challenge and reconstitute the pervasive and ongoing reality of imperial-colonial expansion.  

MARC students in the Counterhegemonic Architecture (ARC3020) studio have produced diverse theses (snapshots of which can be seen above) that range from a proposal for a pavilion at an international horticultural exposition that comments on the Turkish state’s colonial displays of progress to protest on behalf of the Kurds of Hasankeyf (“An Archive of Memories Washed Away” by Liane Werdina) to a temporary gallery exhibition on the cyclical push-pull nature of countries seeking to actively control the physical manifestation and collective memory of their national identity and history (“Forward Not Back, Reconsidering the Past in a Future Ukraine” by Bryson Wood) and a design for a mixed-use high-rise building and accompanying professional practice manual intended to empower residents of Toronto’s Chinatown (“Seeing through Transit-led Displacement in Toronto’s Chinatown” by Christopher “Chris” Hardy).  

In the Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies (BAAS) program, Pauer teaches Close Readings in Urban Design (ARC253), which has the overarching hypothesis that public space isn’t actually “public” for everyone—a theme that Pauer considers a throughline between research and teaching.  

“In many ways this award feels full circle,” says Pauer. “Given the integration of my practice, research, and teaching.” He adds: “A few years back I had planned my doctoral dissertation as a stepping stone toward achieving particular mid and long-term objectives; (a) to develop an original didactic-pedagogical approach to an emerging academic field at the intersections of architecture, geography, politology, and media as well as (b) to develop a business plan-like framework for a non-profit investigative practice and think-tank. So my think-tank’s upcoming research-based debut exhibition is another outcome informed by this integrated approach to academic practice.” 

On March 6, Pauer will open the exhibition “How to Steal a Country,” which will transform the Larry Wayne Richards Gallery into scenes from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Scale- and life-size dioramas, vignettes and tableaus will create an immersive experience, revealing the key role architecture plays in the ongoing sovereignty dispute. A corresponding public lecture, “Recognizing Facts on the Ground,” will take place on March 14.