Nicholas Risteen is an architectural historian and theorist. His research encompasses the intersection of architecture, media studies, literature, history of science, and critical theory as it pertains to ruins and theories of ruination. Focusing on 19th—21st century architecture and urbanism in Japan, his book project "After the Disaster: Architecture and Ruination in Twentieth Century Japan" explores the developing relationships between architectural experimentation, large-scale urban destruction, and trauma studies between the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 and the end of the Shōwa Period in 1989. A second research project explores the expansion of architectural criticism in postwar Japanese print culture through the work of Nishiyama Uzō, Taki Kōji, Isozaki Arata, and others.
Prior to teaching at Penn State, Risteen taught in the Writing Program at Princeton University as well as in the graduate architecture program at Pratt Institute. Before engaging his graduate work in history and theory, he was an architect and urban designer in New York, Paris, and Philadelphia.