Architectural History, Suburban History, Retail Architecture, Adaptive Reuse, Transnational Urbanism, Ordinary Landscapes, Material Culture
Alec Stewart is an architectural and urban historian with an interest in the ways that globalization, mobility, consumer cultures, racialization, and grassroots placemaking shape the built environment. His writing has addressed the revitalization of aging strip malls by immigrant entrepreneurs, cultures of public transportation, and swap meets as nodes of transnational urbanism in the late-twentieth century. He is currently writing his first book, "Meet Me at the Swap Meet: The Production and Transformation of Multiethnic Marketplaces in Los Angeles," and a forthcoming article traces how Asian American swap meet entrepreneurs influenced the emergence of West Coast Hip Hop music and fashion.
Dr. Stewart received his PhD in architecture (History, Theory, and Society) from the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree in human geography from George Washington University, and a bachelor’s degree in geography (with a city planning minor) from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to his doctoral studies, he worked as an urban land use analyst in Washington, DC, and as a city planner in Oakland, California. Currently, he serves on the Vernacular Architecture Forum’s board of directors.
A committed educator and mentor, Dr. Stewart has offered courses in urban studies, city planning, and architectural history at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania, Mills College, Northeastern University, and the University of San Francisco. He has also enjoyed mentoring Berkeley undergraduate students as a fellow in the Berkeley Connect program in the College of Environmental Design.
ARCH 112: The Social Life of Building
Mellon Junior Fellow in Humanities, Urbanism, and Design, University of Pennsylvania, 2021-2022; Mellon Fellow in Urban Landscape Studies, Dumbarton Oaks, 2020-2021; Berkeley Connect Fellowship in Architecture, 2018-2019 and 2022-2023; Chancellors Public Fellow, University of California, Berkeley, 2017
“Los Angeles’s Indoor Swap Meet Boom and the Emergence of a Multiethnic Retailscape.” Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum 28, no. 2 (Fall 2021), 25-44.
“Visible But Unseen: The Material Cultures of Los Angeles’s Indoor Swap Meets.” Platform, February 15, 2021.
“The World of the Bus: A Lens for ‘Knowing’ Los Angeles.” In Margaret Crawford and Noam Shoked (eds.) No Cruising: Mobile Identities and Urban Life in Los Angeles. Berkeley: Global Urban Humanities Initiative, 2014. 29-42.
“Back to the Future? Transit Technology and Social Stigma in Los Angeles.” In Margaret Crawford and Noam Shoked (eds.) No Cruising: Mobile Identities and Urban Life in Los Angeles. Berkeley: Global Urban Humanities Initiative, 2014. 49-60.