Skip to content

Linda C. Samuels



Linda C. Samuels, RA, PhD, is an associate professor of urban design at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, where she teaches architecture and urban design studios and seminars on Infrastructural Urbanism, urban history and theory, and alternative sustainability metrics. Recent studio partners include Virgin Hyperloop One (LA/LV), Food Forward (LA), Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LA/Detroit), Bistate Research Institute (St. Louis), and Dutchtown South Community Corporation (St. Louis). Samuels was co-principal investigator on a grant from The Divided City initiative, funded by the Mellon Foundation, entitled Mobility For All By All, which aims to increase the social and environmental benefits of the multibillion-dollar proposed MetroLink expansion for residents living along the alignment.

Before coming to WashU, Samuels was the inaugural director of the Sustainable City Project (SCP), a multidisciplinary research, teaching, and outreach initiative of the University of Arizona, where she worked with public and private partners on micro- to macro-scaled sustainability efforts in southern Arizona and the larger megaregion.

Samuels earned her Doctorate in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her Master of Architecture from Princeton University. While at UCLA, she was a senior research associate at cityLAB, an urban think tank in UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design. Samuels organized the influential WPA 2.0 design competition, symposium, and exhibition with Dana Cuff, Roger Sherman, and Tim Higgins.

Samuels’ publications include “Top/Up Urbanism” in Amplified Urbanism and “Resistance at the Trench: Why Efforts to Reinvent the 101 Freeway in Downtown Los Angeles Continue to Fail" in the Journal of Planning History (both 2017). Her 2019 essay, “A Case for Infrastructural Opportunism” was published in TAD: Technology I Architecture + Design.

Samuels’ most recent book, Infrastructural Optimism, is available this fall from Routledge.


The recently released publication Infrastructural Optimism investigates a new kind of twenty-first-century infrastructure, one that encourages a broader understanding of the interdependence of resources and agencies, recognizes a rightfully accelerated need for equitable access and distribution, and prioritizes rising environmental diligence across the design disciplines. Bringing together urban history, case studies, and speculative design propositions, the book explores and defines infrastructure as the basis for a new form of urbanism, emerging from the intersection of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. In defining this new infrastructure, the book introduces new dynamic and holistic performance metrics focused on “measuring what matters” over growth for the sake of growth and twelve criteria that define next generation infrastructure. By shifting the focus of infrastructure—our largest public realm—to environmental symbiosis and quality of life for all, design becomes a catalytic component in creating a more beautiful, productive, and optimistic future with Infrastructural Urbanism as its driver. Infrastructural Optimism will be invaluable to design, non-profit and agency professionals, and faculty and students in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design, working in partnership with engineers, hydrologists, ecologists, urban planners, community members, and others who shape the built environment through the expanded field of infrastructure.

Publication Details
Infrastructural Optimism
Routledge, September 2021
308 Pages, 225 Color Illustrations
ISBN 9781138481589

Work by Linda C. Samuels and Students

A map highlighting the Chouteou Greenway with call-outs to intersections with various neighborhoods

+STL: Growing an Urban Mosaic

“+STL: Growing an Urban Mosaic” finalist proposal for Chouteau Greenway competition with dhd, TLS Landscape Architecture & OBJECT TERRITORIES.
A collage render of a food mart and grocer stand with various items listed on side of existing building

First Class Meal

First Class Meal, winning proposal for Urban SOS: Fair Share competition by Anu Samarajiva, Irum Javed and Lanxi Zhang. Faculty advisor: Linda C. Samuels.
Two images: a map (left) and model (right) showing various ways urban violence transgresses in St. Louis

Mapping and analytical model for MUD711

Mapping and analytical model for MUD711 infrastructural urbanism studio taught by Linda C. Samuels. Opportunity corridors map by Thomas Klein and Christine Doherty.
[Student work] A map proposal of the hyperlink in Los Angeles visualizing what it can provide access and resources to

Infrastructural Urbanism

Infrastructural Urbanism // Virgin Hyperloop One studio collaboration led by Linda Samuels. Mapping and proposal by Tyler Bassett and Christina Batroni.
A series of photographs from community project events

Mobility For All By All

Mobility For All By All collaborative community projects.

Sunni Hutton, Hip-hop Transit (left top and bottom)

Alix Gerber + Umeme Houston, Sewcial Impact Project (right top)

Creative Reaction Lab, Community Design Apprenticeship Program (right bottom)

A rendering of a highway corridor with paneling displayed along the roads and the rails

Smart Energy City

Smart Energy City, I-11 Supercorridor Studio taught by Linda C. Samuels at the University of Arizona, 2014. Work by Bernardo Terán.