Harris M. Steinberg, FAIA, became the executive director of the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University in November 2014 and he also has an appointment as a distinguished teaching professor of architecture in Drexel’s Westpahl College. Prior to his appointment at Drexel, Harris was the founding executive director of PennPraxis, the applied research arm of the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania, and an adjunct associate professor of city and regional planning where he taught a second year graduate planning design studio. Recent studio topics included a plan for equitable development in small post-industrial cities near Philadelphia for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and a study to develop 93-acres of air rights above the Amtrak rail lines at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.
Civic visioning was a hallmark of Harris’ work at PennPraxis. His projects included the 2006-2007 award-winning Civic Vision for the Central Delaware; a public planning process that engaged more than 4000 Philadelphians in over 200 meetings in 13-months. The process altered planning history in Philadelphia and the vision is now guiding development along the Delaware River. Other civic visioning projects included the 2008 Reimaging the Kimmel Center; the 2010 Green2015: An action plan to add 500 acres of new park space in Philadelphia; and the 2013 More Park, Less Way: An action plan to increase urban vibrancy on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The New Fairmount Park, a vision and action plan for Philadelphia’s 2000-acre watershed park was released in May 2014.
Harris has lectured nationally and internationally on the role of civic engagement in city planning. He is a frequent participant on conference panels where he speaks to the significance of the relationship between civic life, creative place making and public policy in city building. In addition, Harris has led national design teams for the American Institute of Architects Sustainable Design Assistance Team program. SDAT projects, which engage the local community and key stakeholders in an intensive series of public meetings and interviews over three days leading to key urban planning recommendations, include work along the Miami River in Miami, Florida; the Route 7 Corridor outside Shelburne, Vermont; the South Shore Central lakefront in Austin, Texas; and Coral Bay in the US Virgin Islands.
Harris received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania and his Master of Architecture degree from Penn where he was awarded the Paul Phillipe Cret Prize for Architectural Design. He is the recipient of the Young Architects Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA and in 2006 was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. From 2001 to 2006, he served as an appointed member of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.