Seth Wachtel

Seth Wachtel

Program Director

Program Director
Full-Time Faculty


Seth Wachtel is the program director of the Architecture & Community Design program. He has worked in architecture and construction in India, Colombia, Haiti, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Zambia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. His focus is on culturally and environmentally appropriate design and the development of innovative construction techniques that produce regenerative and aesthetically fitting buildings and landscapes for human environments.

Professor Wachtel teaches the Community Design Outreach, International Projects, and Construction Innovation courses, which provide students the opportunity to work on real-world local and international design/build projects for underserved communities and threatened environments. Co-founder of the first organic community garden on the University of San Francisco campus, Seth is actively involved in the production of shelter communities and food security gardens in urban areas, as well as regenerative processes in rural and peri-urban regions. He serves on the boards of Groundwork Institute, Self-Sustaining Communities, New Paradigm College, and the Building Beauty program.


  • Community Engaged Design
  • Construction Innovation
  • Tiny House Villages
  • Food Security Gardens
  • Environmentally Appropriate Design

Research Areas

  • Culturally Appropriate Development
  • Construction Innovation
  • Regenerative Landscapes
  • Community Engaged Learning
  • Shelter and Food Security


  • Chair, Department of Art + Architecture
  • Program Director, Architecture and Community Design


  • UC Berkeley, March in Architecture, 1987
  • UC Berkeley, BA in Architecture, 1982

Prior Experience

  • Adjunct Professor in Architecture, UC Berkeley
  • Design/Build, Berkeley & Oakland, CA
  • Project Design and Management, Resources for Community Development
  • Project Coordination, BBI Construction, Oakland
  • Project Design and Management, Center for Environmental Structure, Berkeley

Awards & Distinctions

  • University of San Francisco Frank Beach Award, 2017

  • School of Mines Humanitarian Engineering Award, 2017

  • NEH Chair 2016 -National Endowment for Humanities, Digital Humanities Start Up Grant, 2015

  • University of San Francisco Distinguished Teaching Award, 2014

Selected Publications

  • Youth Spirit Artworks Tiny House Village, Oakland, CA

  • Maison des Lumieres, Oujda, Morocco

  • Bibliotheque Du Soleil, Carrefour-Feuilles, Haiti

  • Goyena Community Center, Goyena, Nicaragua

  • Plantation Workers' Shelter, Buga, Colombia