Thomas Gardner

Director, Master of Arts in Social Design

Thomas Gardner is a designer and educator. His teaching and research explore design methodologies and tactical technologies, with a particular focus on pedagogy, fabrication, community engagement and emerging practices. He is the co-founder of HousingOperative, a design-build agency based in Detroit and dedicated to the realization of architecture for social and cultural change.

Following his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Thomas worked with a number of leading design studios, including Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Steven Holl Architects in New York, as well as Stanley Saitowitz in San Francisco, where he served as project architect for the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston. Subsequently, he completed his graduate studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art, where his thesis focused on post-industrial urban housing, resulting in the design and construction of the first single-family dwelling in a downtown Detroit neighborhood in over 80 years.

Thomas has taught architecture and design at Rhode Island School of Design, Parsons The New School for Design and Lawrence Technological University, and has served as a critic at design schools across the US. Most recently, he worked with Project H, where he led Studio H, a design + build program for high school students in Berkeley, California.


  • Bachelor of Architecture, 1990, University of Texas at Austin
  • Master of Architecture, 2006, Cranbrook Academy of Art