Steve Cancian

Assistant Professor

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
College of Ag & Environ Sciences

Natural Resources & Environ Design

Carver 224-A
MLALandscape Architecture / University of California
B.A.History / Columbia University


Assistant Professor Steve Rasmussen Cancian is a licensed landscape architect specializing in participatory community-based design and culture and class responsive design. Before becoming a designer, he worked as a community organizer for 13 years, including managing Rev. Jesse Jackson's 1988 Presidential campaign in New Hampshire and building dozens of multi-cultural, multi-lingual HUD tenant unions. His design work has been featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine, the New York Times and the Venice Biennale. He twice received the Graduate Faculty of the Year Award at Cal Poly Pomona and his students there won the National ASLA Excellence in Service Award. His MLA thesis on improvement without gentrification won the ASLA National Honor Award. He is currently collaborating with Linda Jewell, a recipient of ASLA's highest honors, on a NPS funded study of how to best renovate historic outdoor theaters. He enjoys Greensboro's parks, bookstores and global food with his wife Hanne.

Research Interests

Professor Cancian’s research explores how design changes when done from different cultural, class and gender perspectives. He seeks to develop and document prototypes and methods that enable designers to create places that resonate with people’s cultural, class and gender experience and serve their distinct interests. He is pursuing this work in three inter-related areas:

Cultural definition of design—researching public seating and sitting across the globe to explore how landscape elements and activities are culturally defined.

Improvement without gentrification—researching the most successful improvement without gentrification projects globally to distill applicable best practices.

Inclusive design history—conducting a comparative analysis of the multiple, independent origins and distinct conceptions of common landscape spaces to create a more globally inclusive design vocabulary for contemporary design.

Additional research on cirriculum discussed in "Teaching Interests" above.

Recent Publications

  • Linda Jewell, Steve Cancian (2012). ("Keeping the Boys Busy:’ On-site, incremental design gives form to the complex relationship between site and structure in the outdoor theaters of the Great Depression). (3, 2004) Volume 24, Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.