School of Architecture College of Design

Ignacio San Martín, Professor of Architecture, Director Metropolitan Design Center

Ignacio San Martín

Professor of Architecture
Dayton Hudson Chair of Urban Design and
Director, Metropolitan Design Center
School of Architecture, College of Design
The University of Minnesota (612) 625-9000



Ignacio San Martin is Dayton Hudson Professor of Architecture, Chair of Urban Design and Director of the Metropolitan Design Center (MDC). Under his leadership the MDC has explored how architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design can assist Twin Cities metropolitan communities in becoming more livable and sustainable. Today, the MDC’s research and outreach programs bring University faculty and students together to collaborate with municipalities and non-profit organizations in critical design and research investigations providing technical urban design and interdisciplinary assistance to make sustainable communities possible.

Prior to his arrival at the University of Minnesota, he was Professor and Director of the Urban Design Laboratory at the University of Arizona, School of Architecture (2000-2007), after serving as Chair of the graduate program in City and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture at Arizona State University (1989-1999). This earlier work reflects his interest in cities located in arid regions, a topic that was a subject of widespread public lectures, symposia, and publications including: Garden Cities in the Sonoran Desert; On the Possibility of an Urban Design Applicable to the Sonoran Desert; The Difficult Path of Sustainability: Conflicting Ideologies on the Production of Space; and Re-thinking Urban Futures: Toward a Livability Agenda? His research work and extensive bioclimatic urban design projects for the Tucson and Phoenix metropolitan regions was recognized in 2004 with the distinguished Richard A. Harvill Award for the Advancement of Higher Education by the University of Arizona.

Prior to his academic career, Professor San Martin was in professional practice; first as a senior urban designer for Bechtel Corporation, international projects office, and later as acting director of the urban planning studio at EDAW, Inc., both in San Francisco. He holds Master’s degrees in Landscape Architecture, City and Regional Planning, and Urban Design from the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Luis Barragán: The Phoenix Papers Arizona State University Press (1996); co-author of the Spanish translation of Ian McHarg Design with Nature, Gustavo Gili (2002), Thinking the Present: Urban Design in Arid Regions, Ardvak Global Publishing (2008) and is currently working on The City: Twenty Contemporary Thinkers.

Professor San Martín has lectured at Columbia University, The University of New Mexico, the University of Valladolid, Spain; The Universidad Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM); Charles University Faculty of Sciences in Prague; the Center for Environmental Studies in Budapest, the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile. He is an Affiliate Professor in the Doctoral Program in Urban Design at the School of Architecture of the University of Valladolid, Spain and the University Iberoamericana of Puebla, Mexico. He serves as a resource member of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Mayor's Institute on City Design with the Architectural Foundation. In 2006 he was elected Scientific Adviser of the Journal CIUDADES and is a member and Technical Adviser to the Research Grants Council in Urbanism and Landscape Architecture at the University of Hong Kong, China.


1982  MUD,  MCRP-Urban Design

University of California, Berkeley

Concentration: Urban Design with Allan Jacobs and Donald Appleyard


1981 MCRP,  Master of City and Regional Planning

University of California, Berkeley

Concentration: History of Urban Planning with Allan Jacobs


1979 MLA ,  Master of Landscape Architecture

University of California, Berkeley

Concentration: Landscape Ecological Planning with Dr. Luna Leopold


1975 BS,  BS Environmental Sciences

Portland State University

Concentration: Geology, Sedimentology  and  Geomorphology

Current Teaching

Arch 5711  Theories and Principles of Urban Design

Arch 5721  Case Studies in Urban Design

Arch 8255 Graduate Studio V - Urban Design Studio

Arch 5993  Directed Studies



San Martin, Ignacio ed. (2008) Thinking the Present: Urban Design in Arid Regions The University of Arizona, New York, Aardvack Global Publishing

San Martin, Ignacio (2005) The Tucson's Downtown Urban Design Studio Professional Publication, School of Architecture, The University of Arizona, Special Collection Library

San Martin, Ignacio and Juan Luis de las Rivas. (2000) Planear con la Naturaleza. Spanish translation of Ian Mc Harg. Design with Nature. Gustavo Gili, Barcelona

San Martin, Ignacio (ed.) (1996) Luis Barragán: The Arizona Papers. Arizona State University, Tempe, Latin American Press


Book Chapters

San Martin, Ignacio (2008) Shifting Paradigms: Options for an Integrative Model of Urban Design in the Sonoran Desert in San Martin ed. Thinking the Present: Urban Design in Arid Regions The University of Arizona,

Juan Luis de las Rivas, Ignacio San Martin, and Frederick Steiner (2000). Introduction Ployectar con la Naturaleza.  Introduction to the Spanish translation of Ian McHarg Design with Nature. Gustavo Gili, Barcelona  pp. VI-XI

San Martin, Ignacio, Carlos Licon and Frederick Steiner (1999). Evaluating the Visual and Cultural Landscape of the Valladolid Region. Regional Plan of Valladolid. Directrices de Ordenación Territorial de Valladolid. Valladolid, Junta de Castilla y Leon. 

San Martin, Ignacio 1995. Frank Lloyd Wright: Broadacre City, Retrospect and Prospect. In Zygas, Paul K. (ed). Frank Lloyd Wright: The Phoenix Papers Vol. I:  Tucson,  University of Arizona Press.


Books In Progress

San Martin, Ignacio (ed) The City: Twenty Contemporary Thinkers An anthology on European, American, and South American scholar.


Book Reviews

San Martin, Ignacio (1998) Review of Yaro, D. and Hiss T. A Region at Risk: The Third Regional Plan for the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Metropolitan Area Island Press, Washington, and D.C. 1996. In Landscape and Urban Planning  (1998)

San Martin, Ignacio Review of Thomas Vale and Geraldine Vale (1991)  Western Images Western Landscapes, University of Arizona Press1990 in Landscape Journal v.10.No..2


Journal Publications

Shengyin Xu and Ignacio San Martin (2010) Ecological Footprint for the Twin Cities: Impacts of Consumption in the 7-County Metro Area (editing final data)

San Martin, Ignacio (2007) The Predicament of Urban Design in The Sonoran Desert. Presented at the San Sebastian Symposium Nuevas Scalas del Tetrritorio, November 2007

San Martin, Ignacio (2007) Re-thinking Urban Futures: Toward a Livability Agenda? Journal CIUDADES 11 The University of Valladolid Instituto de Urbanistica, Universidad de Valladolid

San Martin, Ignacio (2004) Garden Cities in the Sonoran Desert Journal ARQ Chile No. 57 Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Estudios Urbanos, Santiago, Pontificia Universidad Católica, Chile pp. 5-10.

San Martin, Ignacio. (2003) The Difficult Path of Sustainability: Conflicting Ideologies on the Production of Space  CIUDADES 7             

San Martin, Ignacio (2001) The Character of Sprawl and its Indicators International Symposium Proceedings, First Policy Forum on Urban Sprawl. Center for Environmental Studies, Charles University, Budapest, Hungary (April 2000)

San Martin, Ignacio (2001) The Perception of Sprawl: The Battle for Sustainable growth in Arizona. International Symposium Proceedings on Urban Sprawl. Institute for Ecopolicy Technical University of Prague. (April 2001)

San Martin, Ignacio. (1996) Questioning the American Dream: The Phoenix Metropolitan Area v. Growth Management Strategies, International Symposium Proceedings in Regional Planning, Valladolid, Spain.  In: de las Ribas J.L. Journal Pensar la Ciudad. No 3 Instituto de Urbanistica, Universidad de Valladolid, No.3, pp.67-95.

San Martin, Ignacio. (1996) Luis Barragan:  The Process of Discovery.  An investigation on the design method of Luis Barragan and its implication to our current design discourseLandscape Journal Vol. 15, No 2, fall pp. 99-112.

San Martin, Ignacio. (1993) Reflections on Teaching a Yearlong Graduate Planning Studio, with L. Mc Sherry and F. Steiner.  CELA National Conference Proceedings

San Martin, Ignacio (1999). Reflections on Growth Management Strategies. Sierra Club Initiative on Growth Management Strategies for Arizona. (March 1999)

San Martin, Ignacio. Reading the Landscape. Your Town Workshop.  National Trust for Historic Preservation, Casa Grande, Arizona, (1994.)

San Martin, Ignacio et al. (1995) The Need for Continued Registration of Landscape Architects.  Arizona Chapter America Society of Landscape Architects.  Submitted to the Board of Technical Registration Joint Senate Profession, Employment and House Commerce, State of Arizona



MDC Projects 2011


Lectures and Presentations

December 3, 2010

Paco Burgos and Gines Garrido

Soft Infrastuctures

Architects, Burgos & Garrido Arquitectos Asociados

Madrid, Spain

Infrastructures have shredded territory and fragmented cities; they are not part of them but have been imposed on them. Is this irreversible? How can we make them be part of cites and participate in creating a

humanized landscape?


Research Articles

Ecological Footprint for the Twin Cities: Impacts of Consumption in the 7-County Metro Area

The Metropolitan Design Center has completed a comprehensive research project aimed at calculating the Ecological Footprint of the Twin Cities metropolitan region. Using various methods of investigation, this study concluded that the current footprint for the Twin Cities amounts to 12.02 gh/p above the calculated 9.5 US national average. The research offers useful tools and recommendations for measuring the sustainable performance of planning policies forthe Twin Cities metropolitan region.



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Contact Information

College of Design

Saint Paul Offices

32 McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Ave, St. Paul, MN 55108

P: 612-626-9068 | F: 612-625-1922

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Minneapolis Offices

101 Rapson Hall, 89 Church St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-626-9068 | F: 612-625-7525

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