Christopher Wolfgang Alexander (born 4 October 1936 in Vienna, Austria) is a widely influential architect and design theorist, and currently emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His theories about the nature of human-centered design have had notable impacts across many fields beyond architecture, including urban design, software, sociology and other fields. Alexander has designed and personally built over 100 buildings, both as an architect and a general contractor. He has also recently given his approval for the Building Beauty masters degree program in Naples, a one-year course at the Università degli Studi Suor Orsola Benincasa where students explore innovations in ecological urbanism by building, using the methods he developed.
In the field of software, Alexander is regarded as the father of the pattern language movement. The first wiki – the technology behind Wikipedia – led directly from Alexander's work, according to its creator, Ward Cunningham. Alexander's work has also influenced the development of agile software development and Scrum.
In architecture, Alexander's work is used by a number of different contemporary architectural communities of practice, including the New Urbanist movement, to help people to reclaim control over their own built environment. However, Alexander is controversial among some mainstream architects and critics, in part because his work is often harshly critical of much of contemporary architectural theory and practice.
Alexander is known for his many books on the design and building process, including Notes on the Synthesis of Form, A City is Not a Tree (first published as a paper and recently re-published in book form), The Timeless Way of Building, A New Theory of Urban Design, and The Oregon Experiment. More recently he published the four-volume The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe, about his newer theories of "morphogenetic" processes, and The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth, about the implementation of his theories in a large building project in Japan.
Alexander is perhaps best known for his 1977 book A Pattern Language, a perennial seller some four decades after publication. Reasoning that users are more sensitive to their needs than any architect could be, he produced and validated (in collaboration with his students Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, Max Jacobson, Ingrid King, and Shlomo Angel) a "pattern language" to empower anyone to design and build at any scale.