Suzanne Harris-Brandts is a licensed architect with the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), certified LEED AP BD+C, and founding partner of Collective Domain. She holds a PhD in Urban and Regional Studies from MIT and a Master of Architecture from the University of Waterloo. Harris-Brandts teaches in the graduate and undergraduate programs, including graduate thesis supervising. Previously, she taught at the International Black Sea University, MIT’s School of Architecture & Planning, and the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture.
Harris-Brandts’s research brings together design and the social sciences to explore issues of power, equity, and collective identity in the built environment. It covers topics as broad spanning as iconic city building, incentivized urbanism, contested place meanings, and design’s relationship to conflict-induced displacement—often foregrounding the role of designer agency. Her work has been disseminated in a wide range of outlets, from books to peer-reviewed journals, design publications, lectures, and exhibitions. Harris-Brandts’s current book project, entitled Constructing the Capital, draws from her dissertation uncovering the politics of urban development and image-making in Eurasian capital cities. It foregrounds city building campaigns in “hybrid regimes” (part-democratic/ part-authoritarian), demonstrating how architecture and urban design are manipulated for power, also highlighting bottom-up, community-based strategies to resist such actions.
Harris-Brandts has over a decade of international experience at design-research firms, including in Toronto, Vancouver, London, and Abu Dhabi. In 2010 and 2011, she was an Architect-in-Residence with Decolonizing Architecture Art Research (DAAR) in the occupied West Bank. Her master’s thesis expanded on this experience, delving into the politics of architecture and landscape in rural areas of the West Bank. It received the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Student Medal and was featured in her co-curated exhibition “Landscapes of Resistance: The Marshall Islands and Occupied Palestinian Territories,” shown at Cambridge Galleries. More recently, in 2017-2018, Harris-Brandts led the research initiative Indigenous Outsiders, exploring the endangered architectural legacy of Muslim communities in Georgia’s mountainous Adjara region. It included the field documentation of over twenty remote wooden mosques built between 1817 and 1926, funded by the Graham Foundation and Open Society Foundation.
PhD in Urban and Regional Studies – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): School of Architecture and Planning, Cambridge, MA, USA
MArch – University of Waterloo: School of Architecture, Cambridge, ON (RAIC Medal Recipient; CCA Prix de Rome in Architecture Nominee; Canadian Architect Award Nominee)
Hon. HBAS (Co-op) – University of Waterloo: School of Architecture, Cambridge, ON
ARCS 5031A – MArch 1 Graduate Studio
ARCS 2106B – Studio 3, 2nd Year Undergraduate Studio
MArch Thesis Supervisor
CV – Suzanne Harris Brandts
Harris-Brandts, S. (forthcoming). The ‘White Palace’ Party Headquarters: Architecture, Urban Design, and Power in North Macedonia. In Koch, N. (Ed.) Spatializing Authoritarianism. 1-26. Syracuse University Press.
Gogishvili, D., & Harris-Brandts, S. (forthcoming). The Urban Impacts of Second-tier Mega-Events in the Global East. In Bignami, F., & Cuppini, N. (Eds.) Mega-Events, Urban Transformations and Social Citizenship. 1-26. London: Routledge.
Write On Workshop. (2020) A Themed Writing Workshop. “Rooted – Togetherness in the Built Environment.” Invited Workshop Lead. Calgary, AB, Canada.
Gogishvili, D., & Harris-Brandts, S. (2019). Coinciding Practices of Exception in Urban Development: Sports Events and Special Economic Zones. European Planning Studies, 28(10), Taylor & Francis, 1999-2019.
Gogishvili, D., & Harris-Brandts, S. (2019). The Social and Spatial Insularity of Internally Displaced Persons: “Neighbourhood Effects” in Georgia’s Collective Centres. Caucasus Survey, 7(2), Taylor & Francis, 134-156.
Harris-Brandts, S., & Gogishvili, D. (2018). Architectural Rumors: Unrealized Megaprojects in Baku, Azerbaijan and their Politico-Economic Uses. Eurasian Geography & Economics, 59 (1), Taylor & Francis, 73-97.
Harris-Brandts, S. (2018). The Role of Architecture in the Republic of Georgia’s European Aspirations. Nationalities Papers. 46 (6), Taylor & Francis, 1118-1135.
Harris-Brandts, S. (2017). Informal Infrastructures of Dirt, Demolition, and Sewage in the West Bank. In S. McDowell, Water Index: Design Strategies for Drought, Flooding and Contamination. New York, New York: Actar.
Collective Domain. “Build it and They Will Come.” Virtual Exhibition (due to COVID-19). Selected entry for Tbilisi Architecture Biennial 2020: What Do We Have in Common? (October 2020).
Harris-Brandts, S., Wheeler, A. & Shioshvili, V.“Wooden Mosques: Islamic Heritage in the Republic of Georgia.” Tbilisi and Batumi, Georgia. National Research Centre for Georgian Art History & Heritage Preservation (2018); Contemporary Art Space Batumi (2018); Tbilisi Night of Photography (2019).
Harris-Brandts, S. & Knight, C. “Landscapes of Resistance: The Marshall Islands + Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Cambridge Galleries. Cambridge, ON. October 2012.