Stephen Zacks is an internationally recognized architecture and urbanism journalist, theorist, and cultural producer based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and a native of Flint, Michigan.
He received an M.A. in Liberal Studies from the New School for Social Research, a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Humanities from Michigan State University, served as an editor at Metropolis, and has received awards from the Warhol Foundation, Creative Capital, ArtPlace, Graham Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell Colony, NY State Council on the Arts, and the Newtown Creek Fund.
Founder and creative director of Flint Public Art Project, and co-founder of the Bring to Light–Nuit Blanche New York festival and the Chance Ecologies project on postindustrial spaces in Queens, he is currently writing a nonfiction narrative about New York during the mid-70s fiscal crisis, tentatively titled How To Kill Or Make a City: Art in the Ruins of New York, 1958-1989. How To Kill Or Make a City reexamines the role of artist’s communities in neighborhood change in light of the wildly inflationary city that it turns out financial leaders planned to create all along.
Through his Institute for Applied Reporting and Urbanism practice, he has consulted on and founded numerous platforms for urban engagement that make use of knowledge and processes from the fields of journalism and urban design to activate spaces, advocate for social justice, and transform the image of places, including Flint Public Art Project, Bring to Light/ Nuit Blanche New York, Activate Tbilisi Urbanism, and Chance Ecologies.
As a journalist trained in political and social science, philosophy, and cultural studies, he applies a pragmatic standard to reporting and criticism on art, architecture, and urbanism. Zacks has contributed to the New York Times, Art in America, Village Voice, Monocle, Popular Science, Metropolis, Architectural Record, Print, The Architect's Newspaper, Blueprint, Curbed, Mic, Common Edge, TARP Architecture Manual, and RIPP Magazine. His international reporting includes coverage of Israeli architecture in the West Bank, master planning in Dubai, landmarks preservation in Kosovo, the no-man's land in Nicosia, public art in Panama, the graphic resistance in Serbia, and political art in South Korea.
As a Metropolis editor from 2005 to 2009, he reported on Steven Holl's Nelson-Atkins Museum addition in Kansas City, housing policy in New York, Stefan Behnisch's high-performance architecture in Germany, and profiled regional architects like Rand Elliott in Oklahoma City, Jeanne Gang in Chicago, Phil Freelon in North Carolina, MC2 in Houston, and Peter Gluck in New York.
Zacks co-directed the Collective: Unconscious performance space on the Lower East Side from 1996 to 2002.