David Rifkind joined the UF faculty July 1, 2021, as Director of the School of Architecture after 14 years at Florida International University. Trained as an architect and as an architectural historian, Rifkind studies urbanism and architecture in Ethiopia from the late nineteenth century to the present. His current book project, Modern Ethiopia: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Building of a Nation, incorporates field research in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti with archival research in Ethiopia, Europe and the United States. His work in Ethiopia has been supported by a grant from the Graham Foundation and a residency at the American Academy in Rome as the inaugural Wolfsonian-FIU Affiliated Fellow.
Rifkind’s doctoral dissertation, Quadrante and the Politicization of Architectural Discourse in Fascist Italy, examined the complex interrelationships of modern architecture and state politics in Fascist Italy. The dissertation won the 2011 James Ackerman Prize for Architectural History from the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio in Vicenza, and was subsequently published as The Battle for Modernism in 2012 by the CISA Palladio and Marsilio Editori.
He has also won best article awards for essays published in the two flagship journals in architectural education and history, the Journal of Architectural Education (“Misprision of Precedent: Design as Creative Misreading”) and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (“Gondar. Architecture and Urbanism for Italy’s Fascist Empire”). He curated the 2012 exhibition, Metropole/Colony: Africa and Italy, in the Wolfsonian-FIU Teaching Gallery at the Frost Art Museum, and in 2016 developed an exhibition with Professor Dawit Benti (EiABC), Contemporary Architecture in Ethiopia, which opened in Addis Ababa, Miami, and in the gallery of the architecture building at UF. In 2014, Ashgate published A Critical History of Contemporary Architecture, which he co-edited with Elie G. Haddad.
A practicing designer, Rifkind has worked to make environmental stewardship and community development the central focus of architectural practice in South Florida. In 2012 he completed a house in South Miami which served as a model of sustainable construction and environmental stewardship. He is currently working on two net-zero energy projects.