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Faculty + Staff Profiles

Phil Gruen

Phil Gruen

Associate ProfessorArchitecture 509-335-2309 Daggy Hall 318 PO Box 642220

Phil Gruen brings a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary perspective to the school. His area of expertise regards the architecture and urbanism of the United States, which he explores using the interdisciplinary methods of the cultural landscape. Gruen’s teaching emphasizes the importance of story and interpretation and regularly questions dominant narratives by recognizing marginalized and underrepresented built environments—including those of the everyday and the ordinary. In the SDC, he teaches (or has taught) lectures and seminars on vernacular architecture, discrimination and design, modern architecture, historic preservation, the global history of design, and tourism and travel and, since 2004, has garnered several awards for teaching excellence. Gruen also teaches in the Honors College, becoming a fellow in 2017 and winning the outstanding faculty award in 2020. He was director of the SDC from 2015-17 and served as its interim director from 2014-15.

Gruen has published numerous articles, encyclopedia entries, and book reviews and presented at more than forty conferences, panels, and events on a range of topics: from Chinatown in San Francisco, to Disneyland, modern stadiums, Virginia City (Montana), land-grant institutions, and the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center on the WSU Pullman campus. Gruen’s first book, Manifest Destinations: Cities and Tourists in the Nineteenth-Century American West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014), traced visitors’ agency as they negotiated four diverse metropolises of the rapidly urbanizing West: Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco.

Much of Gruen’s recent work has been focused in the Pacific Northwest: his article on the erasure of Indigenous space at Mount Rainier National Park was published in Buildings and Landscapes in 2021; he co-coordinated and wrote eighteen articles for the Society of Architectural Historians’ Archipedia “State 100” project for Washington (2019), and he is currently working on a book manuscript for WSU Press about the campuses of Washington State University. His Honors course on the “Global Palouse” is part of an interdisciplinary NEH planning grant exploring the vitality of regional landscapes (2020). Locally, Gruen serves on the Historic Preservation Commission for the city of Pullman and the Historic Preservation Committee for WSU. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Vernacular Architecture Forum.


Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture, University of California, Berkeley.

Master of Arts in History of Architecture and Art, University of Illinois, Chicago.

Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Criticism (Cum Laude), University of California, San Diego.