Thomas Fisher

Professor of Architecture and Director of the Minnesota Design Center, University of Minnesota
Areas of Expertise:
  • Environment & Energy
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Economy & Public Budgets
  • Economic Growth & Innovation
  • Public Budgets & Taxes

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About Thomas

Fisher's areas of expertise lie in the application of design thinking to human organizations and systems. These relate to many pivotal political questions of the day, including how best to allocate resources while taking into account the triple bottom line of equity, economics, and the environment. His work is part of a transformation in the design fields, which find themselves increasingly engaged in the design of "invisible" policies, processes, and procedures, as much as the "visible" products and environments traditionally associated with design. Fisher sits on several community boards in the Twin Cities, including the Advisory Board of The Urban Land Institute and of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation; the Trust for Public Land; and the Board Knowledge Committee of the American Institute of Architects. 




Architectural Design and Ethics: Tools for Survival (The Architectural Press/Elsevier, 2008).
Argues for an inversion in how we approach ethical dilemmas, starting not with individuals and their relationship to those most closely associated with them, but instead with the planet and the future generations of humans and other species that depend upon our wise stewardship of it.
Ethics for Architects (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010).
Examines the paradoxes of professional practice in a hyper-competitive global economy, and how a proper understanding of the professional’s role can help avoid unethical behavior. Comprises 50 case studies of ethical dilemmas that architects have faced in the course of practice.
The Invisible Element of Place: The Architecture of David Salmela (University of Minnesota Press, 2011).
Studies the work of the Finnish-American architect David Salmela, addressing the social, political, economic, and environmental implications of his work and how it provides models for how we might live in a future of constrained resources.
Designing to Avoid Disaster: The Nature of Fracture-Critical Design (Routledge, forthcoming).
Looks at how to predict the failure of the myriad fracture-critical systems we have put in place since World War II, in a wide range of fields from economics and politics to engineering and education, and how to avoid creating such vulnerabilities in the future.

In the News

Regular contributionsThomas Fisher to The Star Tribune.
Regular contributionsThomas Fisher to The Huffington Post.