Faculty and Staff

Henri T. de Hahn - Professor of Architecture

Professor Henri T. de Hahn is the head of the department of architecture at Cal Poly. He currently teaches architecture, cultural landscapes and urban preservation.

How do architects shape the world?

Architects create public spaces that express a dynamic urban life and model ideal civic activities.

Professor de Hahn Does:
Urban Preservation
Cultural Landscapes
Swiss Architecture

Position             Professor & Architecture Department Head
Phone               805-756-1316
Fax                   805-756-1500
Email                 hdehahn@calpoly.edu
Office               05-218
Office Hours     8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (please contact department)
Web Page         http://gallery.me.com/henridehahn#gallery

De Hahn serves as a member on the California Architecture Foundation Board of Regents.

The Cooper Union, New York, 1986
M.Arch, EPF-Lausanne, Switzerland, 1985
The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS), New York, 1983
B.S., College Saint Michel, Fribourg Switzerland, 1979

Teaching Experience

Professor, Architecture Department, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, 2006–present
Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, University of Kentucky, Lexington 1987–2006
Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, ETH-Zürich, 1993–96
Visiting Lecturer, Art Center College of Design, Vevey 1993–96


State of Vaud, Switzerland, 1985


International Associate AIA, 2010–present
Vernacular Architectural Forum (VAF), 2000–present
The Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA), 1985–present
SIA, State of Vaud, 1985–present
National Trust for Historic Preservation, Member, 1996–present


Montreal native Henri T. de Hahn moved with his family to Vienna, Austria, at a young age, and at nine to Switzerland. After graduating from the College St-Michel in Fribourg with a B.S., de Hahn was trained as an architect at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, completing an M.Arch in 1985. He studied under distinguished faculty member Robert Slutzky and completed his thesis under Pierre von Meiss. During his studies he interned for a year with Atelier Cube in Lausanne, Switzerland, and attended his fifth year at The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS) in New York City under the tutelage of George Ranalli, Diana Agrest, and Anthony Vidler. Upon completion of his degree, de Hahn studied a year at The Cooper Union under Raimund Abraham and interned at a New York firm working on a number of renovation projects.

In 1987, de Hahn was invited by Anthony Eardley to join the faculty as a lecturer and later became an Assistant and Associate Professor at the College of Architecture, University of Kentucky. Between 1993–96 he taught in Switzerland in the Architecture Department at the ETH-Zürich, and at the Art Center in Vevey while working with the architectural firm Musy et Vallotton Architectes in Lausanne. After his return to the United States, he focused his teaching and research agenda on an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving strategies between the departments of architecture, historic preservation and interior design. During his nineteen years at Kentucky, he held several administrative positions and completed a number of architectural projects under his firm Atelier de Hahn in conjunction with his wife Tracee de Hahn.

In August 2006, de Hahn was appointed Department Head and Professor of the Architecture Department of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Under his leadership, the Department advanced the core curriculum, expanded the interdisciplinary approach to design; diversified its off-campus programs, including international exchange programs, professional and co-op studios; established a robust publication series; and developed a number of strategies pertaining to a culture of giving among alumni and industry partners.

De Hahn is a registered architect in Switzerland, and member of the Swiss Society of Architects (SIA), REG A, International Associate AIA, and numerous professional societies both in Europe and America.


De Hahn’s scholarly activities have brought his interest towards a reevaluation of modernist theories by working on projects that emphasize contemporary architecture within a cultural urban context. A variety of interests ranging from building types to the transference of vernacular structures to high architecture as well as the tectonic of materials and their construction have, in the last decade led de Hahn towards a renewed interest in a realistic/visionary theoretical underpinning of his work. This has brought him to explore projects of at a larger scale through which he wishes to develop an urban architecture understood as Land Art. Recent research has brought de Hahn to investigate the mapping of the city as an analogous principle of settlement.

Select Scholarship

This project is a landscape for the restoration and renovation of the historic 1824 African Cemetery No.2 in Lexington, Kentucky. Conceived as two parts (Cemetery/Research Center), the project explores a theme central to architecture: building in the landscape and the landscape as building.

This project emerges from the cemetery’s neglect, the memory of slavery, 19th century railroad engineering, and renewed prejudices and vandalism against the burial ground.

In the cemetery’s eight acres, 5,000 horizontal commemorative stones will mark the known and the unknown graves of Buffalo soldiers, community leaders and citizens. An open-air Entrance Pavilion is a microcosm of the cemetery as well as a metaphor of the possible activities: chapel, museum, retreat, and learning.

The Research Center, located west on the reclaimed cemetery land, is a modified city block; an insert imagememory of the Land Ordinance Act. The new grounds and the roof of the research center become a series of Belvederes. Thematic gardens explore historical themes of African American agrarian activities and compliment the adjacent landscape of the existing cemetery.

Contemporary public architecture must by a dynamic force in today’s field of preservation and urban communities, and offer to the less privilege of the inner cities of America a place for the expression of a model of life and civic activities. African Cemetery seeks to revitalize public activities located on the North side of Lexington.


ICOMOS International Council on Monuments and Sites: http://www.international.icomos.org
Architects Without Borders: http://www.architectswithoutborders.com/
The Architectural League of New York: http://www.archleague.org/
National Trust for Historic Preservation: http://www.nationaltrust.org/
Netherlands Architecture Institute: http://www.nai.nl/
Swissnex: http://www.swissnex.org/
World Monuments Fund: http://www.wmf.org/