Dr. Cuff engages spatial justice and cultural studies of architecture as a teacher, scholar, practitioner, and activist. Her leadership in urban innovation is widely recognized both in the U.S. and abroad. In 2006, Cuff founded cityLAB, a research and design center that initiates experimental projects to explore metropolitan possibilities. In 2019, cityLAB expanded its social and political engagement by creating coLAB in the Westlake/MacArthur Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, in long-term partnership with community organizations. cityLAB represented the United States at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, was featured on CNN and in Newsweek magazine, and was named one of the top four urban think tanks in the country by Architect Magazine. The lab’s “housing first” research demonstrates that affordable, well-designed housing and neighborhoods are attainable foundations of equitable cities. cityLAB has developed sustainable, high-performance, low-cost housing prototypes for infill sites ranging from backyards to schoolyards. In 2017, after a decade of research that included a full-scale demonstration house built on the UCLA campus, Cuff co-authored California State legislation, effectively opening 8.1M single-family lots for secondary rental units.
Since 2013, Cuff has led a cross-disciplinary team at UCLA with a substantial multi-year award from The Mellon Foundation for the “Urban Humanities Initiative.” UHI offers students from architecture, urban studies, and the humanities a radical platform for crossdisciplinary, impactful, urban scholarship and action. Cuff co-authored a book about this effort entitled Urban Humanities: New Practices for Reimagining the City (MIT Press, 2020). This is the most recent of numerous books, including Architects’ People (with W.R. Ellis; 1989), Architecture: The Story of Practice (1989), The Provisional City (2000), and Fast Forward Urbanism (edited with R. Sherman, 2011). Dana Cuff publishes and lectures extensively about the modern American metropolis, architectural agency, affordable housing, and architecture’s potential for creating more just cities. Dr. Cuff recently received three prestigious awards that describe her career: Women in Architecture Activist of the Year (2019, Architectural Record), an international prize for Researcher of the Year (2019, Architectural Research Centers Consortium), and Educator of the Year (2020, American Institute of Architects Los Angeles).