In the context of a post 9-11 political equator that divides the world and the city between enclaves of mega-wealth and sectors of poverty, urbanities of labor and surveillance, the formal and informal, our institutions of architecture representation and display have lost their socio-political relevance and advocacy.

estudio teddy cruz : from the global border to the border neighborhood
The perennial alliance between militarization and urbanization is reenacted at the San Diego / Tijuana border and later reproduced in many US neighborhoods, as the expansion of a social legislation of fear is transforming the 11 million illegal laborers who mostly live there into criminal suspects.  What are the implications of these forces of control on one hand and of non-conformity on the other in the reshaping of the American City?  The work of estudio teddy cruz builds out of these trans-border urban dynamics, using this territory of conflict as a backdrop to critically observe the clash between current top-down discriminating forms of urban economic re-development and planning legislature (as expressed through dramatic forms of unchecked eminent domain policies supporting privatization and NYMBYism), on one hand, and the emerging American neighborhoods nationwide made of immigrants, on the other, whose bottom-up spatial tactics of encroachment thrive on informality and alternative social organizational practices.

Our projects primarily engage the micro scale of the neighborhood, transforming it into the urban laboratory of the 21st century.  The forces of control at play across the most trafficked checkpoint in the world has provoked the small border neighborhoods that surround it to construct alternative urbanisms of transgression that infiltrate themselves beyond the property line in the form of non-conforming spatial and entrepreneurial practices.  A migrant, small scale activism that alters the rigidity of discriminatory urban planning of the American metropolis, and search for new modes of social sustainability and affordability.  The political and economic processes behind this social activism bring new meaning to the role of the informal in the contemporary city.  What is interesting here is not the ‘image’ of the informal but the instrumentality of its operational socio-economic and political procedures.  The counter economic and social organizational practices produced by non-profit social service organizations (turned micro-developers of alternative housing prototypes and public infrastructure at the scale of the parcel) within these neighborhoods are creating alternative sites of negotiation and collaboration.  They effectively search to transform top-down legislature and lending structures, in order to generate a new brand of bottom-up social and economic justice that can bridge the political equator.

estudio teddy cruz has received awards for projects on both sides of the border, including various AIA San Diego chapter awards, Progressive Architecture Awards from Architecture Magazine, and the Architectural League of New York Young Architects Forum Award.  It, recently, was selected, among eight other firms, as one of the national “Emergent Voices” in architecture by the Urban League in New York City.  estudio teddy cruz has been published in various architectural journals and newspapers, including The New York Times, Global Architecture, Log, Progressive Architecture, Architecture Record, Casas International, Thresholds MIT, The San Diego Union, The Los Angeles Times, Praxis Magazine, and Princeton Architecture Press’ City Limits.  It also exhibits locally, nationally, and internationally, most recently in “Urban Diagnostics” (commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Centro Cultural de Tijuana), in ARCHILAB (France), in “Dark Places” (Santa Monica Museum of Art), in “Tijuana : A Strange New World” (Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego), in “Otra / Another” (Instituto de Cultura de Baja California, Tijuana), in “Massive Change” (Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago), in “World Factory” (San Francisco Art Institute), in The Third International Architecture Biennale (Rotterdam, The Netherlands), and in the Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa (Portugal).

Teddy Cruz (BA-1982 : Rafael Landivar University Guatemala City, BArch-1987 : California State Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo, Fellow-1991 : Rome Prize in Architecture, MDesS-1997 : Harvard University GSD), beginning with an experimental summer workshop at SCI-ARC, his LA/LA Latin America / Los Angeles studio, has taught and lectured in various universities in the US, Latin America, and Europe.  From 2000-2005, Teddy Cruz was associate professor in the School of Architecture at Woodbury University, San Diego.  He, currently, is associate professor in Public Culture and Urbanism in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California, San Diego.  For his contributions to architecture pedagogy, Teddy received the Robert Taylor Teaching Award from the ACSA.  And, he was awarded the 2004-2005 James Stirling Memorial Lecture on the City Prize, sponsored by the CCA in Montreal, the Van Alen Institute in New York, and the London School of Economics and Political Science.  As a member of the Board of Directors of CCDC, as co-chair (along with Joyce Cutler-Shaw) of the Hot Topics Committee for the Council of Design Professionals in San Diego, and as a member of the International Editorial Board of AD Magazine in London, he is involved in many civic and cultural advocacy groups at multiple levels.

Teddy Cruz

Active Associates
Cesar Fabela
Jesus Fernando Limon
Rastko Tomasevic
Megan Willis



Urban research and Design
Border Issues and Public Culture