California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Professor and Director of Graduate Architecture Program
For more than 23 years, Thomas Fowler, IV, has helped shape the top-ranked architecture program at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. His innovative approach to teaching utilizes new media and a variety of disciplines to challenge students in their designs.
A long-time champion of collaboration, Fowler’s multidisciplinary pedagogy brings together members of the English, media, computer science, business, engineering and construction management fields to work with students during the architecture design process.
In 2014, Fowler helped to establish the design for the future Same Polytechnic College in Tanzania, Africa, a collaboration among Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, industry partners and a nonprofit client. Students in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design and the College of Engineering have created a master plan and designs for classrooms, laboratory spaces, support facilities, site infrastructure and on-campus housing for 1,200 students.
His passion for education has expanded to assist underserved communities as well. Internnect, developed with a former student, exposes disadvantaged high school students to the architecture profession. The free program brings more than 60 participants to the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus twice a year.
“One quote that really resonates with me is by jazz musician Charlie Parker,” Fowler says. “‘First you learn the instrument, then you learn the music, then you forget all that and just play.’”
In 2012, Fowler was named one of the nation’s most admired educators by DesignIntelligence. He has received 18 teaching awards, including the 2018 Cal Poly Distinguished Teaching Award.
Fowler is a licensed architect and received his master’s in architecture from Cornell University and his bachelor’s in architecture from New York Institute of Technology.