Beginning at the age of fourteen, Taisto H. Mäkelä was educated on construction sites by his father, a carpenter. At sixteen he began collaborating with the N.E. Thing Co., a conceptual art enterprise. He went on to receive a Diploma in Building Technology from the British Columbia Institute of Technology followed by a B.Arch. (magna cum laude) from the University of Oregon. He continued his studies at the Architectural Association in London and then Princeton University where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Architectural History, Theory, and Criticism. Taisto’s dissertation advisors were Anthony Vidler and Alan Colquhoun.
Taisto has taught architectural history, theory, and design courses in the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs at the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado Denver since 1989. From 1990 to 2014, he discretely taught the principles of classical architecture in honor of Dr. Hugh Plommer (Cambridge University) who introduced Taisto to Greek and Roman architecture at the Architectural Association. His research interests include aesthetic theory, architecture and cultural identity, the modern movement, the privileged spaces of cultural institutions, vernacular traditions, and global urbanism. Taisto lectures on these topics internationally. He has also served as a visiting faculty member in Helsinki, Bucharest, and Bangkok.
Taisto was the Chairman of the Department of Architecture from 2009 -2013. After stepping down as the Chairman, he was appointed Director of Finnish Initiatives.