Professor Philip Bess teaches graduate urban design and theory, with a particular interest in Catholic and classical humanist intellectual and artistic traditions in the context of modern American life and the contemporary culture of architecture and urban design. From 2004 to 2014 he was the School of Architecture's Director of Graduate Studies. During the past decade his graduate urban design studios have completed master plan proposals for Lewis University (IL), Cooperstown (NY), Northampton (MA), Ventura (CA), and Skaneateles (NY), the latter of which won the 2011 Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) Charter Award Academic Grand Prize.
In the Fall of 2011 his studios began a multi-year project called After Burnham: The Notre Dame Plan of Chicago 2109, which focuses upon contemporary metropolitan Chicago. In 2012 After Burnham was awarded a two-year grant from The Historical Society as part of the latter's larger Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs project. The Chicago 2109 plan received a 2013 Award for Best Regional Plan from the Illinois Chapter of the CNU, and a 2014 Special Academic Charter Award at the national meeting of the CNU. Most recently, the 2014 graduate urban design studio received a 2015 CNU Charter Student Award of Merit for their plan for LaFox, Illinois.
Professor Bess has been a member in good standing of both the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the United Steelworkers union, and has been a cab driver in both Boston and Chicago. Before coming to Notre Dame in 2004 he lived and worked in Chicago, and at various times taught architecture and urban design at Notre Dame, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Michigan, Miami of Ohio, Calvin College, and Andrews University. From 1987-88 he was the director and principal designer of the NEA-and-Graham-Foundation-funded Urban Baseball Park Design Project of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); and in Boston in August 2000 he directed and coordinated the ultimately successful "Save Fenway Park!" design charrette, from which came contemporary Fenway's famous Monster Seats and other prominent renovations.
Professor Bess lectures widely, and is the author of numerous articles and three books: City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense About Cities and Baseball Parks (Knothole, 1991); Inland Architecture: Subterranean Essays on Moral Order and Formal Order in Chicago (Interalia / Design, 2000); and Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Sacred (ISI, 2006). He holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Whittier College, a graduate degree in church history from Harvard, and a graduate degree in architecture from the University of Virginia. In 2013-14 he was a William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life in Princeton University's James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions; and in May 2015 he received the degree Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa from The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California.
Areas of Expertise
- Architectural History and Theory
- Urban Design
Recently Taught Courses
ARCH 70311 Urban Elements and Principles (graduate)
ARCH 81151 Urban Design II (graduate)
ARCH 81161 Terminal Design Project (graduate)
ARCH 83311 After Urbanism (graduate)
ARCH 83321 A Survey of Form-Based Codes