Faculty welcomes Sean Anderson to Architecture

29 June 2012

The Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning is proud to welcome Sean Anderson as a Senior Lecturer.

Sean joins the faculty following a distinguished career in architectural education and practice. He graduated from Cornell University in 1996, attained his Masters in Architecture from Princeton in 1999 and completed his PhD in Art History at UCLA in 2006.

Sean's interests are in the relationship between architecture and art and the exchanges between these interrelated fields. He says that he is excited to teach Architectural History / Theory II in Semester II 2012.

"In the U.S. you're either a historian or a designer. It's very difficult to be in a teaching position that allows for both at the same time," Sean said. "At Sydney, these two elements are critical components of a student's education. I've never felt more encouraged than in the past few days at Sydney."

Sean has worked and lectured in India, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Italy. He says that his experiences in these locations have influenced his approach to understanding the links between architecture and art.

"I went to India after my first degree and I worked with Tibetan refugees. I must have been a few steps ahead of the Architects Without Borders idea - if I'd thought of it then, I might have had a very different career. But my time in India helped confirm that architecture can have more of a relationship with a place and a culture.

"After finishing my masters at Princeton I went back to India. I was the project manager for the first McDonalds in Mumbai. It was a bizarre experience for a new architect and a unique moment in India - the start of middle class desire for 'Western' or American products. I was the only American on the project and yet we were creating one of the hallmarks of American globalisation," Sean said.

Sean is critically aware of the differences in education and experiences between his native U.S. and overseas.

"While I was working on the McDonalds project, I was also teaching at one of the most important schools of architecture in India. I had brilliant students and many had come from villages with no running water or electricity. They read and constantly asked questions. One of my students, now a practicing architect in Mumbai, told me he did all of high school by candlelight. My time in India gave me a unique perspective on culture as both a tool and as a mechanism of representation. That is very profound in my thinking."

Architectural History / Theory II is the second of three compulsory units for Bachelor of Design in Architecture students. Sean wants to build on the fundamentals introduced in Architectural History / Theory I and incorporate is personal interests in Africa and South Asia. More significantly, Sean wants to develop students to be independent thinkers.

"There is a uniqueness to this unit. It is the first time I have seen history taught the way I would imagine it," Sean said. "It is thematic, diachronic and global. I have an opportunity to engage students with art, architecture and broader thought. My goal is for students to be independent enough so that they too can generate their own language and responses."

Sean has been passionately committed to architecture since childhood. He says he was fortunate to know early-on that he was going to be an architect.

"I made my first drawings of buildings when I was very young. My parents still have some of those. My mom talks about me taking pictures out of national geographic and other magazines. I had pictures of huts, skyscrapers and Easter Island moai all over my room. I've always known that architecture is what I'm going to do."

The Faculty heartily welcomes Sean and anticipates that students and staff alike will benefit from his experiences and expertise.