Juhani Pallasmaa

Juhani Pallasmaa has designed, written and lectured extensively across the world for more than 40 years. Since 2008, he has served on the jury for the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the field’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Pallasmaa received an honorary doctor of architecture degree in 2013.


Pallasmaa is an honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects — a distinction conferred upon him in 1980 under the Gateway Arch — and the 2009 recipient of the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

He is the author and/or editor of more than 45 books on topics ranging from architecture and the visual arts to environmental psychology and cultural philosophy. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages.

His book The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses (1996) has become a classic of contemporary architectural theory and is required reading in architecture schools around the world.

Educating the new generation of architects

Pallasmaa served as dean and professor of architecture at the School of Architecture, Helsinki University of Technology (HUT), from 1991-98. Previously, he had served as rector of the Helsinki University of Applied Arts, as professor of architecture at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, and as director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki.

Professor Pallasmaa has held visiting chairs of architecture at the University of Virginia, Catholic University of America and Yale University, among others.

Juhani Pallasmaa (2013)

He has contributed significantly to architecture and the arts at Washington University in St. Louis. He first arrived at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts in 1999 — the latest in a long line of prominent Finnish architects associated with the school over the last 60 years.

From 2001-03, he was the Sam Fox School’s Raymond E. Maritz Visiting Professor of Architecture, and he continues to work with graduate students in the school’s Helsinki International Semester program. While on campus, Professor Pallasmaa designed a pair of teak benches, installed outside Givens Hall, to mark the retirement of former dean Cynthia Weese.

Peter MacKeith, associate dean and associate professor of architecture in the Sam Fox School and honorary consul for Finland in Missouri — who was on the HUT faculty with Professor Pallasmaa — has edited two collections of his essays: Encounters I: Architectural Essays (2006), a RIBA book-of-the-year nominee, and Encounters II: Architectural Essays (2012).

Last year, Professor Pallasmaa co-authored Understanding Architecture with Robert McCarter, the Sam Fox School’s Ruth & Norman Moore Professor of Architecture.

During the school’s annual Awards for Distinction dinner in April 2012, Professor Pallasmaa received the Dean’s Medal, which honors an individual whose extraordinary contributions have elevated the fields of art, architecture and design.

An international leader in contemporary architecture

Professor Pallasmaa’s architectural practice spans projects in urban design, building design, and exhibition, product and graphic design. His built works can be found throughout Finland, from as far south as Helsinki to as far north as the Arctic Circle in Lapland, as well as in France, Slovenia, Russia, Ethiopia and China.

In the United States, his design for the arrival plaza at the Cranbrook Academy of Art greets each visitor to the historic campus. In 1991, Professor Pallasmaa was Finland’s architectural representative at the Venice Biennale. His architectural work has been recognized by such awards as the Finnish State Architecture Award, the Helsinki City Culture Award, the Fritz Schumacher Prize (Germany) and the Russian Federation of Architecture Award.

Professor Pallasmaa’s other significant published works include The Embodied Image (2011), The Thinking Hand (2009), The Aalto House (2003), Sensuous Minimalism (2002), The Architecture of Image (2001), The Villa Mairea (1998), The Melnikov House (1996), Animal Architecture (1995) and The Language of Wood (1987).

Professor Pallasmaa is an honorary member of both the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Finnish Association of Architects. In 1999, he received the Jean Tschumi Gold Medal for Architectural Criticism of the International Union of Architects, and in 2012, he was installed as Academician of the International Academy of Architecture.

Professor Pallasmaa and his wife, Hannele, who reside in Helsinki, have two children, Aaro and Meri.