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Deborah Ascher Barnstone

Professor, Head of School, School of Architecture, University of Technology Sydney

Deborah Ascher Barnstone is professor of architecture at University of Technology, Sydney. She holds a PhD in architectural history from the TU, Delft; a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University; and a B.A. cum laude degree from Barnard College. She is a licensed architect and principal with Ascher Barnstone Architects as well as an historian.

Before becoming an architect, Ascher Barnstone was a professional dancer and did some work as a choreographer and set and costume designer.

Professor Ascher Barnstone’s primary research interests are 20th and 21st century German and Dutch art and architecture and classical modernism. Her work interrogates the origins of classical modernism and explores the relationships between art, architecture, and culture more broadly. She has a particular interest in dismantling historical myths by re-examining received histories in order to uncover alternate interpretations of the past. Professor Barnstone also has extensive experience in pioneering sustainable design work. She was an architect with Erich Schneider-Westling in Germany, a founder of the sustainable design movement there. In the United States, Ascher Barnstone was a founding member of the Institute of Sustainable Design at Washington State University.

Her first book The Transparent State: Architecture and Politics in Postwar Germany (Routledge: 2005) examined the myth of transparency in West German politics and the state architecture designed to house the new democracy; her most recent book, Another Modernity: Cultural Debates in Weimar era Breslau (University of Michigan: 2016), scrutinizes the so-called dichotomy in interwar German cultural production between advocates of modernism and advocates of more traditional art to show how blurred cultural distinctions really were. Her monograph The Break with the Past: German Avantgarde Architects 1910-1925 is forthcoming with Routledge, 2017. She has published scholarly articles in Journal of Architectural Education, Journal of Design History, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Journal of Architecture, and New German Critique.

She has had National Science Foundation support for sustainable design, grants form local and state government to support sustainable architecture and urban design work. She is currently working in an international consortium of architects, engineers, landscape architects, and urban designers with scientists, economics, and sociologists to address the Food-Energy-Water Nexus as a design problem. She is also working on a grant that examines declining youth participation in sport in Australia with a view to re-designing the sport offering and sport facilities. Her design work has won national awards and been published nationally and internationally.


  • –present
    Professor, University of Technology, Sydney