Journalist, critic, strategic projects director, and registered architect, James S. Russell brings a multi-disciplinary approach to writing, consulting, and teaching about architecture and cities.
He brings strategic visioning into initiatives on architecture and cities, tackling challenges including climate change, resiliency, and changing demographics.
As the Director, Design Strategic Initiatives at the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) James led a team that advanced the agency’s capacity in low-energy buildings, climate-change adaptation, and resiliency. His team created a series of handbooks showing the role of architectural design in aiding equitable access to City resources and nurturing well-being. The handbooks tailor recommendations to nine building types ranging from police precincts and libraries to street design, homeless shelters, and juvenile-detention facilities.
He wrote guidelines for DDC and the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection of the design of natural-system stormwater-management tactics—an urgent need as rainfall intensifies, sea levels rise, and storms intensify coastal damage. His work applied the latest knowledge on climate trends, and showed examples at large urban and watershed scale.
He has also done strategic consulting work for clients that include the City of Philadelphia, American Forests, nine Hudson River counties, and the State of New Jersey.
He grounds his work in 10 years as a practicing architect and brings an insatiable curiosity from journalism, where he published more than 1,000 articles as an award-winning editor at Architectural Record magazine, and as the architecture critic for Bloomberg News. James has written architecture and city stories for the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, among many other publications.
His book, The Agile City: Building Well Being and Wealth in an Era of Climate Change (2011) documents the low-tech and low-cost strategies for buildings and communities that can achieve dramatic reductions now in America’s global-warming effects.
Mr. Russell teaches at Stanford University and has taught at Columbia University, the City College of New York, and the University of Pennsylvania. He earned a Masters of Architecture degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design from the University of Washington. He also attended The Evergreen State College.
He was born in Seattle. He is a registered architect, elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 2010, and resides in New York City