John Bass


Associate Professor

Contact details


414 – Lasserre





B.Arch, Rhode Island School of Design
BFA, Rhode Island School of Design


John teaches the introductory design media course and design studios. His teaching and research address contested landscapes, using drawing to describe narratives of tension and possible avenues of synthesis and reconciliation. He also practices through project-based collaboration.

He is working in several contested landscapes, including three with coastal British Columbian First Nations partner communities: the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, the Heiltsuk First Nation, and the Nisga’a Nation. These projects include design at the scale of buildings and landscape but also cut across disciplines. Completed and ongoing work include studies of treaty rights, preemption and property law, historical documentation and reclamation, sustainable and culturally-specfic housing, and education and capacity building programmes integrated with the virtual repatriation of artifacts.

John has several ongoing projects in India. In Chandigarh, he is studying the rehabilitation colonies of its periphery. He also ran a studies abroad program in Chandigarh in the fall of 2015, and will run the program again in fall 2017. He has collaborated with Raman Deep Dhiman of Universal Satellite Mapping Consultants of Chandigarh in the public space and engineering design for low-tech public infrastructure improvements for the Punjab village of Bir Pind, and with the Indo-Canadian Friendship Society on the public space design for the Uttarakhand village of Dhakrani.

John was a co-investigator with the Coastal Communities Project, a SSHRC-funded multi-disciplinary research initiative of UBC and partner communities situated along the Pacific coast of British Columbia. The project resulted in several works, most notably Naming and Claiming: The Fort Rupert Reconstruction Project. In collaboration with the Fort Rupert Kwakiutl Band in Fort Rupert, BC, it developed through a close observation of the band’s historic photograph collection, dating to the early 1860s. It includes essays, narrative drawings, chronological analysis, graphic spatial reconstructions, and a material culture catalogue. A portion of this work was published in Architecture and Justice: Judicial Meanings in the Public Realm (Ashgate, 2013).

John is the director of the Delta National Park project, a research and design project and blog focused on the water and spatial politics of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta area of California. The design work speculates on a hybrid public/private Delta future as an alternative to the gridlocked discourse of entrenched interests and risk-averse technocracy currently dominating debate. A part of this work appeared in GAM.01 Tourism and Landscape, published by the Technical University of Graz, Austria.