Christopher Alexander

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{system, computer, user}
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{math, number, function}
{city, large, area}
{build, building, house}

Christopher Alexander (born October 4, 1936 in Vienna, Austria) is an architect noted for his theories about design, and for more than 200 building projects in California, Japan, Mexico and around the world. Reasoning that users know more about the buildings they need than any architect could, he produced and validated (in collaboration with Sarah Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein) a "pattern language" designed to empower anyone to design and build at any scale. In 1958 he moved from England to the United States, living and teaching in Berkeley, California from 1963. He is professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. Now retired (though ceaselessly active), he is based in Arundel, Sussex, UK.



Alexander grew up in England and started his education in sciences. In 1954, he was awarded the top open scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge University in chemistry and physics, and went on to read mathematics. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Architecture and a Master's degree in Mathematics. He took his doctorate at Harvard (the first Ph.D. in Architecture ever awarded at Harvard University), and was elected fellow at Harvard. During the same period he worked at MIT in transportation theory and in computer science, and worked at Harvard in cognition and cognitive studies.


Alexander was awarded the First Gold Medal for Research by the American Institute of Architects in 1972. He was awarded the Seaside Prize in 1994. He was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996 for his contributions to architecture. In 2006 he was one of the two inaugural recipients of the Athena Award, given by the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). On 5 November 2009, at a ceremony in Washington D.C., he was awarded (in absentia) the Vincent Scully Prize.

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