Educated at Edinburgh and Princeton and a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Alan Balfour is professor and former dean of the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech, a position he came to after serving as the architecture dean at Rensselaer. He was formerly chairman of the Architectural Association in London, and architecture dean at Rice University in Houston. Balfour was the year 2000 recipient of the Topaz Medal, the highest recognition given in North America to an educator in architecture.
Balfour's Creating a Scottish Parliament (with David McCrone, Finlay Brown, Edinburgh 2005) offers an intimate exploration of the conceptualization of the political structure for a devolved Scotland and the architecture that would symbolize and be the instrument for its advancement. Though the city is the ostensible subject of Alan Balfour's writing in recent years, the underlying concern has been with exploring the cultural imagination. In 2002 he completed three books on three world cities; in each the city is viewed as the most tangible residue of the complexity of society's desires. Shanghai was published in 2002 and New York in 2001, (both from Wiley/Academy, London). The first in the series was Berlin published by Academy Editions in 1995, which documents the transformation of Berlin before and after the collapse of the 'Wall', This and an earlier book Berlin: The Politics of Order: 1737-1989 (Rizzoli 1990), received AIA International Book Awards. Other books include Portsmouth (Studio Vista 1970), Rockefeller Center: Architecture as Theater (McGraw-Hill 1978), with contributions to The Edge of the Millennium (Cooper Hewitt 1993), Cities of Artificial Excavation: The Work of Peter Eisenman (Rizzoli International /CCA 1994) and Recovering Landscape (Princeton Architectural Press 1999).
He has recently completed Solomon's Temple: Myth, Conflict, and Faith,(Wiley 2012), a highly original architectural history of Solomon’s Temple and Islam’s Dome of the Rock that doubles as a social and cultural history of the region.
- 1965, Masters Degree in Fine Arts (Architecture), Princeton University
- 1961, Diploma in Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh, Scotland
- Creating a Scottish Parliament (with David McCrone) Finley Brown, Edinburgh, 2005.
- Shanghai: World City Academy Editions/J. Wiley and Son, New York, 2002
- New York: World City Academy Editions/J. Wiley and Son, New York, 2001
- Berlin: World City Academy Editions London, and Ernst & Sohn, Berlin, 1995. *Winner of the AIA International Book Award, 1997
- Recovering Landscape edited with James Corner, Princeton Architectural Press, Princeton, spring 1999
- Contributions to Cities of Artificial Excavation: The Work of Peter Eisenman 1978-1988 CCA Montreal, Rizzoli International Publications, New York 1994.
- Contributions to The Edge of the Millennium, Whitney Library of Design, New York 1993.
- Berlin: The Politics of Order, 1737- 1989, Rizzoli, New York 1990. * Winner of the AIA International Book Award, 1991
- Contributions to Contemporary Architects, St. Martins Press, New York 1984, revised 1987.
- Architectural Education Study, MIT, Boston 1981 (editor).
- Rockefeller Center: Architecture as Theater, McGraw-Hill, New York 1978.
- Portsmouth, Studio Vista, London 1970.
- Contributions to Breakthrough to the Hudson, Ottinger Foundation, New York 1964.
Essays in recent years have appeared in the Harvard GSD News and the Graz publication MDA, Dokumente zur Architektur 7 and the Journal of Architectural Education (JAE). His Harvard studio from 1996 was published in Studio Works 4 approaches.
From 1991 -1995 Balfour was publisher and had overall editorial responsibility for AA Publications, he also led the editorial board of AA Files.
He has served on the editorial boards of JAE, Cite, and was chairman of the board of the Atlanta based arts magazine, Art Papers.