Philip Bess

Philip Bess
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Professor of Architecture
  • Residential Fellow (2019-2020)
  • "After Burnham: The Notre Dame Plan of Chicago 2109"

Philip Bess is Professor of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame, where he specializes in urban design and theory, with a particular interest in classical humanist urbanism in the context of modernity. With a view of cities and human flourishing informed by Aristotle, Aquinas, Tocqueville, and Henry George, he directs an ongoing studio-based “ideal city” project envisioning metropolitan Chicago as a 4,000-square-mile agrarian-urban unit at the bicentennial of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago.

Professor Bess is the author of City Baseball Magic (1991), Inland Architecture (2000), and Till We Have Built Jerusalem (2006). His more than thirty journal essays on cities and architecture have appeared in publications such as Communio, American Affairs, The Classicist, First Things, The Front Porch Republic, Comment, Public Discourse, Society, This World, The Christian Century, The Chicago Architecture Journal, The Journal of Markets and Morality, Elysian Fields Quarterly, The Minneapolis Review of Baseball, and the Bulletin of Science, Technology, & Society. He also does architectural “counter-projects” and offers design consultations as Thursday Associates. From 1987-1988 he was the director and principal designer of the Urban Baseball Park Design Project of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), and in Boston in August 2000 he directed and coordinated the ultimately successful “Save Fenway Park!” neighborhood design workshop, from which came contemporary Fenway’s famous “Monster Seats” and other prominent renovations.

Professor Bess’s research has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation, the Historical Society of Boston University, and the Notre Dame Tocqueville Program. Since 2011 his graduate urban design studios have won six Charter Awards from the Congress for the New Urbanism, and in 2016 their Chicago 2109 work won the World Congress Excellence Award in Urban Design at the London meeting of the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture & Urbanism (INTBAU). In 2013-2014, he was a William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life at Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, and in May 2015 he received the degree Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California.