Urban parks; chairs and body conscious design; the sociology of taste; ethnography for design; post-occupancy evaluation; sustainability as a social concept; qualitative research methods.
- Ph.D. Sociology, University of Chicago
- M.A. Sociology, University of Chicago
- B.A., Reed College
- Philosophy Statement
Paying close attention to social practices can inspire architectural innovation. Social patterns are not a “straight jacket,” but rather a muse. Professor Cranz wants to help students become better artistically by helping them interpret and feel social forces. Her approach to teaching is learning-centered, rather than teaching-centered, so she emphasizes experiential learning. A certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, she is passionate about bringing experience of the unified self back into the classroom and workplace. Professor Cranz is a founding member of the Association for Body Conscious Design.
Galen Cranz is Professor Emerita of Architecture at the University of California at Berkeley. She received her doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago and is certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. She teaches social and cultural approaches to architecture and urban design. Emphasizing ethnography as a research method, she brings users' as well as creators' perspectives to our understanding of built environments. Currently, she is publishing a new text on the use of ethnography for designers, Ethnography and Space. Her teaching includes the point of view of different American cultures, as part of Berkeley’s American Cultures requirement. In 2011 she received the Career Award, the highest award of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA).
Her creative work includes research and writing about urban parks, sustainability, body conscious design, housing for the elderly, and the sociology of taste in environmental design. She is the author of The Politics of Park Design: A History of Urban Parks in America (MIT 1982) and has since published a major article, “Defining the Sustainable Park: A Fifth Model of Urban Parks” in Landscape Journal (2004). She is a frequent lecturer about urban parks and juror for park design competitions.
The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body and Design (1998) received EDRA’s 2004 Achievement Award. She has lectured widely on her perspective on body conscious design and taught her unique approach at craft schools including the Penland School of Crafts, The Oregon College of Arts and Crafts, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, and the Domus Academy of Design in Milan, Italy. Her research on the chair has attracted media attention from the New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Oregonian, Bay Guardian, Metropolis, Metropolitan Home, Toronto Globe and Mail, New Scientist (UK), WGN Radio Chicago, KGO-TV San Francisco, KRON-TV San Francisco, CNN, NPR, BBC, ABC, and elsewhere. She is a co-principle investigator and recipient of the Latrobe Fellowship for architectural research (2005-2007) to study evidence-based hospital lighting and design with Kaiser Permanent Hospitals and Gordon Chong Architecture.
She is currently teaching and writing about taste in design. In this manuscript Taste and Design she offers a new synthesis of three main pillars of thinking about taste: utility, meaning, and aesthetics.
As a designer she has been part of significant park design competition teams for Spectacle Island, Boston Inner Harbor; Olympia Fields, Chicago; Tschumi's Parc de LaVillette in Paris, and lead designer for and winner of the St. Paul Cityscape competition of 1984. She holds two US patents for body conscious bathtub and chair designs. In 2005-2007 she designed and built a residence for the elderly following universal design principles.
Her Alexander certification was with Tom Lemens of New York; she currently studies vision (EyeBody) with Peter Grunwald of New Zealand and Body-Mind Centering with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen in California. She swims and practices tai chi daily.
- Selected Publications
“Ethnography for Designers”, (Routledge, 2016)
Galen Cranz and Elefterios Pavlildes, Environmental Design Research: Body, City and the Buildings Inbetween (Cognella, San Diego, 2012)
Environmental Design Research: The Body, The City, and the Buildings in Between (2011)
Galen Cranz with Jess Wendover, Iris Tien, Mark Gillem, and Jon Norman, “College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley Temporary Home,” Designing for Designers, J. Nasar, W. F. E. Preiser & Tom Fisher (Eds.) (New York: Fairchild Books, 2007), pp.
Galen Cranz with EunAh Cha, “Body Conscious Design in a Teen Space: Post Occupancy Evaluation of an Innovative Public Library,” Public Libraries, Sept/Nov. 2006, pp. 48-56.
Galen Cranz and C. Young, “The role of design in inhibiting or promoting use of common open space: The case of Redwood Gardens, Berkeley, CA.” In S. Rodiek & B. Schwarz (Eds.), The Role of the Outdoors in Residential Environments for Aging (New York: Haworth Press, Inc., 2006), pp. 71-94.
Galen Cranz and Michael Boland, “Defining the Sustainable Park: A Fifth Model for Urban Parks,” Landscape Journal, Fall 2004, pp. 102-120.
“A New Way of Thinking about Taste,” The Nature of Craft and the Penland Experience (Lark, NY, 2004), pp. 130-136.
“The Alexander Technique in the World of Design: Posture and the Common Chair, Part I: The Chair as Health Hazard,” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Vol 4, No. 2 (April 2000), pp. 90-96.
“The Alexander Technique in the World of Design: Posture and the Common Chair, Part II: Body-conscious Design for Chairs, Interiors and Beyond,” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Vol. 4, No. 3 (July 2000), pp. 155-165.
The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body and Design. (Norton, New York, 1998, paperback 2000).
“Now you aren't sitting comfortably,” The Independent (UK), Design Notes section, October 3, 1998, p. 11.
“Parks” entry in American Cities in Suburbs, An Encyclopedia, (Larry Schumsky, Ed.) (ABC-CLIO), pp. 554-58.
• “Community and Complexity on Campus: A Post-Occupancy Evaluation of the University of California, Haas School of Business,” with Amy Taylor and Anne-Marie Broudehoux, Places, A Forum of Environmental Design. 1997 Vol. II, No.1 pp. 38-51.
“The Chair is Where the Body Meets the Environment,” in Curiosity Recaptured: Exploring Ways We Think and Move, Jerry Sontag, Ed. (Mornum Time Press, San Francisco, 1996), pp. 3-20.
“How Principles of Sustainable Development Can and Must Shape Our Cities and Parks: The Case of Riverside South,” in Aristides and Cleopatra (Eds.) International Association for Person-Environment Studies (IAPS) 12 Conference Proceedings (Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece, 1992), pp. 85-89.
The Politics of Park Design: A History of Urban Parks in America (1982)
Galen Cranz, Amy Taylor, Anne-Marie Broudehoux, “Community and Complexity on Campus. A Post-Occupancy Evaluation of the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business,” Places, A Forum of Environmental Design, Winter 1997, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 38-51.
“Four Models of Municipal Park Design in the United States,” Denatured Visions: Landscape and Culture in the Twentieth Century, Wrede, S. and Adams, W. Eds. (NY: Museum of Modern Art: Abrams distributor, 1992), pp. 118-123.
“Berkeley’s Free Speech Controversy,” Op. ed., Oakland Tribune, Jan. 31, 1990.
The Politics of Park Design: A History of Urban Parks in America (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1982; paperback 1989).
“Public Housing for the Elderly: A Study of Eight Housing Projects in New Jersey” in Housing for the Elderly: Design Directives and Policy Considerations, (Elsevier, New York, 1985).
“Women in Urban Parks,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Vol. 5 No. 3 (Spring 1980) reprinted in Stimpson (Ed.) Women & the American City (University of Chicago, 1981).
“The Useful and the Beautiful: Urban Parks in China,” Landscape, Volume 23, No. 2 (1979) pp. 3-10.
“Photography in Chinese Popular Culture,” Exposure: Journal of the Society of Photographic Educators, Vol. 16, No. 4 (Winter 1978), pp. 24-29.
“Changing Roles of Urban Parks: From Pleasure Garden to Open Space,” Landscape Magazine, Summer 1978, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 9-18.