He obtains his architecture degree in the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Barcelona (ETSAB) and an art history degree in 1975.
From 1975 to 1981 he works as an Independent Architect in Barcelona and as a Professor at the University (ETSAB). At that time he won two urban planning and two architecture competitions
From 1981 to 1987 he is Director of Urban Projects of the City of Barcelona, position that involves projecting and directing all infrastructures, monuments and urban projects promoted by the city. For the quality of the urban spaces designed and built under his direction, the School of Graduate Design of Harvard gives the 1990 Prince of Wales Price in Urban Design.
From 1988 to 1994 Acebillo is the Technical Director of the Olympic Holding of the city of Barcelona, in charge of leading the projects and building of the main infrastructures for the 1992 Olympic Games. For his contribution to the urban transformation of the city, he is the recipient of the Honorific Medal of the City of Barcelona 1992 and in 1999 he is a recipient of the RIBA awards Barcelona with the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture.
In 1993 he creates Barcelona Regional (BR), the Metropolitan Agency for the strategic development of urban projects and infrastructure of the city where he continues to be its CEO. His efforts are awarded the Special European Price of Urbanism 1997/1998 of the European Commission for the project Infrastructures and General Metropolitan Systems. In 1998 he becomes Commissioner of Infrastructures and Urban Planning of Barcelona and in 1999 he is promoted to Chief Architect of the city of Barcelona and becomes honorific member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
Acebillo is currently a Professor at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio, in which he was Dean of the Faculty during two consecutive mandates (2003- 2007) and where since 2004 he directs the Institute for the Contemporary Urban Project (i.CUP). Prior to his appointment as a Professor in 2001, he taught in several architecture schools, among them the Faculty of Yale, the Graduate School of Design (GSD) of Harvard, the architecture school of National University of Singapore (NUS) and the International Architecture and Urban Design Laboratory (ILAUD).
Under the urban leadership of Acebillo, Barcelona has received worldwide recognition for its positioning in the international architecture scene. Josep A. Acebillo is frequently called to assess other cities in their urban transformation endeavours as an international expert in urban strategies. To develop projects abroad, he recently founded Barcelona Strategic Urban Systems (BcnSuS), an interdisciplinary consortium with technical experts from Barcelona Regional (BR) and other public and private agents. In 2007 he founded, Architecture Urban Systems (AUS), an independent professional studio, in Switzerland.