Phil Gruen

Headshot of Phil Gruen.

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 he 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) discussion seminars and lecture-oriented classes about discrimination and design, vernacular architecture, modern architecture, historic preservation, the global history of design, and tourism and travel, and he has garnered several awards for teaching excellence. Gruen also teaches in the Honors College, where he became a Faculty Fellow in 2017 and earned 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 is focused on 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-coordinates the Society of Architectural Historians’ Archipedia “State 100” projects for Washington and Oregon; he is exploring the relationship between the Manhattan Project, architecture, and discrimination on the Columbia Plateau; and he is working on a book manuscript for WSU Press regarding the built environment of Washington State University. Gruen also serves as the First Vice President for the Vernacular Architecture Forum (2023-25) and, locally, on the Historic Preservation Commission for the city of Pullman and the Historic Preservation Committee for WSU.  


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.