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Carb talk: CBE’s Climate Solutions Community of Practice sparks interdisciplinary collaborations

Is there a way to break through knowledge barriers and foster climate change collaboration within and without CBE? Professor Kate Simonen and other faculty think they’ve found it: CBE’s new Climate Solutions Community of Practice (CoP), a group dedicated to generating climate solutions across disciplinary frameworks that encourages student, staff, and faculty participation.

[Re]Visioning the Ave: Students devise real-world strategies for a thriving, accessible neighborhood hub

For several years, the U-District Partnership has sought to figure out what kinds of investments and interventions might help bring optimism back to the Ave. In this effort, UDP reached out to the College of Built Environments for assistance. Might there be a chance to get CBE students involved in devising some solutions?

Don’t take concrete for granite: the secret research life of CBE Department of Construction Management Assistant Professor and concrete materials researcher Fred Aguayo

Concrete can sequester carbon, and the cement that glues its components together has been used since antiquity. Now, CBE professor Fred Aguayo is introducing students to the complex world of concrete research.

From the Dean: November 2022

Gould and Architecture Halls have been full of excitement and activity with classes and community events in full swing. In our second year of our two year strategic framework implementation, we are asking important questions about how CBE can be more of a leader in showing how built environments can elevate the experience of our students, faculty, staff, and other members of the community.

Building the Future

This spring, Harris and Oshima were named Fellows of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH). This honor is given to those who have distinguished themselves by a lifetime of significant contributions to the field. Their contributions may include scholarship, service, teaching, and stewardship of the built environment.

UDP Professionals Council Autumn Quarter Lecture Presents: Gil Kelley

Gil Kelley is the general manager of Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability for the City of Vancouver, British Columbia. He is an internationally recognized urban strategist, having served as chief planner for several West Coast cities (including San Francisco, CA and Portland, OR) and as an independent advisor to cities and governments across the globe. Vancouver, BC is one of North America’s most innovative cities in the field of urban planning. The City recently adopted a Greenest City Action Plan and is currently working on a major comprehensive plan update, called “Planning Vancouver Together.” Kelley will share his insights into how he uses a forward-thinking approach to address challenging planning issues, including equity, climate change, and civic engagement. On November 5, 2020 Gil Kelley spoke to our UDP community- watch his presentation here!

BE Studio Envisions a New Seattle Neighborhood

Smith Cove arial photo
A view from Smith Cove of a proposed new neighborhood in Seattle’s Interbay area.

Architecture and planning students love to wrestle with big ideas. And while their end-of-the-quarter presentations sometimes include out-of-the-box ideas, they usually don’t have the attention of public officials. But this time was different.

Students with the University of Washington Built Environments Studio recently had former Governor Gary Locke, State Representative Gael Tarleton, and Seattle Office of Community Development’s Sam Assefa sitting in the front row, saying things like “this could happen if we start planning now” and “the public needs to see this.”

The project these students are exploring — building a new neighborhood in Seattle from scratch — is unique in the city’s modern history. The neighborhood is slated for 25 acres near the Magnolia Bridge. And so, people with influence over this project came to nod, clap, and encourage these students to keep dreaming.

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Building New Global Connections

The UW Landscape Architecture Croatia Design/Build program gives students the unique opportunity to make a lasting, physical impact in their host community. Professor Daniel Winterbottom, an expert in the creation of healing and therapeutic gardens, leads the program.

American and Croatian teammates together after final construction of the reflexology path.

With Professor Winterbottom as their guide, students explore the role of restorative landscapes in the built environment through hands-on learning. They study the history of healthcare in Croatia while also exploring the unique culture, food, and architecture heritage of the region. Finally, the students gain practical experience, working together to solve a real-world design/build problem. Last year, students were tasked with creating a new outdoor physical therapy rehabilitation space at the “Prim. Dr. Martin Horvat” Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital.

Located just outside the city of Rovinj, on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula, the hospital is among the oldest orthopedic-rehabilitation institutes. It specializes in offering modern hydrotherapy treatments to patients coming from throughout Europe. The close proximity to the temperate waters of the Adriatic Sea allows the hospital to offer both indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy facilities during much of the year. For the students, this means having the opportunity to design a functional, therapeutic outdoor space to serve both patients and staff. The build portion of the program further allows students to become adept with key landscape construction techniques, materials, and project management approaches – skills that often aren’t practically addressed in a traditional classroom setting.

Professor and students sit around a table littered with design drawings
Professor Winterbottom leads a workshop on techniques for hand representation.

For Elizabeth Lange, a Master of Landscape Architecture Student, the most memorable part of the experience was the opportunity to build strong connections and foster teamwork with her fellow American and Croatian classmates.

“Every day it was a lot of work and long days, but it was fun to be with the people in the program and learn new things,” she shared. “I became very close with my classmates because of this program.”

Elizabeth also felt that the unique opportunity to participate in a design/build program was particularly useful for rounding out her educational experience, especially as she prepares to enter professional practice in the near future.

“A design build program forces you to think about your design and the practicality of it,” she explained. “In design school, we don’t normally construct what we design, so the sky is the limit in some sense, but in a design/build that isn’t the case. You can think of grand ideas but then you also have to factor in the budget and feasibility of it in order for it to work in the real world. I think that is an important thing to experience in school going forward.”

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the study abroad experience is the way in which it allows students to frame their own life and experiences in the context of a broader perspective.

For Elizabeth, her time in Croatia gave her valuable personal insights and allowed her to build stronger relationships with others – both key hallmarks of a successful study abroad experience.

“I learned a lot about myself and my abilities during this program through my relationship with my friends and through the relationship of design,” Elizabeth shared.

One of the design teams present to the hospital director and therapists.
MLA Sarah Wallace cuts rebar for project construction.
Students test out the new boardwalk.

Photo credits: Rhiannon Neuville and the 2018 Croatia Design Build class.

Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative Wins $1M Grant

The Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative and Co-PI’s Mark Jarzombek and Vikram Prakash are happy to announce its receipt of funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This $1,000,000.00, three year award will allow GAHTC to fund the production of teaching modules, as well as Teacher-to-Teacher Workshops and Global Connections Fellowships. This is the third installment of a grant that was first awarded in 2013 for a total of $3.5 million.


At a time of rapid technological change and professional specialization, we can easily forget that the most important mission of schools and universities is to offer inspiring and horizon-expanding teaching to the next generation. Survey courses play a particularly important role as they open the world to students and help give them critical purchase on their own landscapes and lives. A good survey course balances breadth with depth, but in an ever-expanding world that balance can be lost, meaning that the problem is not just how to teach students, but how to prepare teachers. The GAHTC’s mission is to provide cross-disciplinary, teacher-to-teacher exchanges of ideas and material, in order to energize and promote the teaching of all periods of architectural history in a global way, especially at the survey level. Via our online platform, our workshops, grants and conferences, we support teachers in the class room.

Goals and Implementation

We will therefore focus less on outreach and digital innovation and more on the primary mission of GAHTC, providing member-made quality teaching material free of charge to teachers. We will use the upcoming grant term to round out our library content and work toward a sustainability for the digital platform, through the auspices of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning.

We will strengthen the breadth of our library content by focusing on under-represented areas that we feel are important to the discipline, such as gender studies, aboriginal studies, African studies and First Societies.

By focusing on these core goals, we can make sure by the end of the grant cycle that GAHTC’s materials are well curated, easily accessible and known to the broader community interested in global architectural history teaching content. Having a reputable body of material that is easily accessible and known to the community gives GAHTC the best chance to become a lasting resource.

SENSOL Crosswalks project selected for Amazon Catalyst Fellowship

In July, seven new teams were selected as Amazon Catalyst Fellows. The teams are a mix of UW faculty, students, and staff from eleven departments across campus. Each team received funding to pursue a big idea focused on one of this round’s themes: Computational Social Science or Urban Transportation. One winning team features CBE students, Janie Bube, Graduate Student, Landscape Architecture and Emma Petersen, Graduate Student, Landscape Architecture and Colton Brailsford, Undergraduate Student, Community, Environment & Planning


Summary: An off-the-grid LED and solar crosswalk that lights up directly under the pedestrian as they cross to increase awareness and commuter cooperation.

Description: Crossing a street is often a fraught affair for a pedestrian when there is no traffic light, even when they are at a crosswalk. Will drivers see them? And even if they do, will they stop? A cross-disciplinary team of graduates and undergraduates is designing and building the SENSOL Modular Crosswalk, a hybrid solar and LED crosswalk. The hybrid system will power luminaires embedded in a temporary, modular speed bump like structure. This will improve safety and visibility without permanently changing roadways. The SENSOL crosswalks will be triggered when feet, wheelchairs, or bicycles pass over them, illuminating their exact location, visible at both a distance and up close by cars, bicycles, buses, and other pedestrians.

CBE Strategic Planning: Retreat Saturday, October 5

Dear colleagues,

We are looking forward to seeing all of your at CERC this Saturday, October 5, for the CBE Strategic Planning Kickoff Retreat. The retreat kicks off with a continental breakfast at 8am. Business begins at 9am sharp. You can see event details below.

All our best,
CBE Strategic Plan Facilitation Team
Retreat Logistics
Saturday, October 5
9am to 5pm (with breakfast starting at 8am)
Building 5, 7543 63rd Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115
8:00 Continental Breakfast
9:00 Kickoff

10:30 Scenario Planning
12:15 Lunch
1:00 Task Group Planning
4:00 Task Group Formation
4:45 Wrap-Up and Next Steps
5:00 End
Other background documents, including the Planning Cubed Report, 2019 CBE Organizational Analysis, and 2012 Strategic Plan are available on our website:

CBE Strategic Plan Facilitation Team

Susanne Adamson, Administrative Coordinator, CBE Strategic Plan
Mark Baratta, Director of Operations
Ann Marie Borys, Associate Professor, Architecture
Suzanne Cartwright, Director of Community Engagement, Real Estate
Carrie Sturts Dossick, Professor, Construction Management, and Associate Dean of Research
Nick Dreher (co-lead), BLA Academic Adviser, Landscape Architecture
Ken-Yu Lin (co-lead), Associate Professor, Construction Management
Vikram Prakash, Professor, Architecture, and Chair, CBE College Council
Jan Whittington, Associate Professor, Urban Design & Planning

Strategic Planning Kickoff

Dear colleagues,

We hope you are enjoying your summer and can take a few moments to read this short update on the 2019-20 CBE Strategic Planning process.

First, we’d like to thank the p-cubed group once again for their work in the spring and to introduce the strategic planning facilitation team. At the recommendation of p-cubed, a facilitation team was formed this summer with its first meeting on 7/16.

The facilitation team consists of faculty and staff from all five college department. It is not a steering committee. Rather, the facilitation team aims to help guide a process that includes voices and perspectives from across the college.

Strategic planning facilitation team:
Susanne Adamson, Administrative Coordinator, CBE Strategic Plan
Mark Baratta, Director of Operations
Ann Marie Borys, Associate Professor, Architecture
Suzanne Cartwright, Director of Community Engagement, Real Estate
Carrie Sturts Dossick, Professor, Construction Management, and Associate Dean of Research
Nick Dreher, Undergraduate Academic Adviser, Landscape Architecture, Co-Lead
Ken-Yu Lin, Associate Professor, Construction Management, Co-Lead
Vikram Prakash, Professor, Architecture, and Chair, CBE College Council
Jan Whittington, Associate Professor, Urban Design & Planning

Second, we ask that you mark your calendar for the CBE College-wide Retreat on Saturday, October 5. This retreat will kick off the year-long strategic planning process and your attendance is crucial to make this a success.

The nature of this work is deeply collaborative. Please reach out to us (co-leads: Nick Dreher, and Ken-Yu Lin, if you have any questions, feedback, or concerns about the process.


CBE Facilitation Team

Organizational Analysis Report

CBE Organizational Analysis Report


The College of Built Environments partnered with an external consultant, Julius Erolin (the Consultant), to conduct a brief college-wide organizational review (the Review). The goal of the Review is to gather perspectives across the College on the current strengths, challenges and opportunities of the College. It is not intended as a “fact-finding” exercise. It is a process of understanding how various stakeholders “see” and experience the College.

The Review is part of the “Dean’s Dialogue”, a larger and longer process of listening, learning and planning for Dean Renée Cheng. Given the larger dialogue engaging the broader College community, the Review was designed to be narrow in scope. It is focused on gathering perspectives from faculty and staff, and student and PAC leaders.

The Consultant collected information from individual interviews, focus groups, a survey and review of relevant documents. 105 individuals participated in seven focus groups, 134 completed the survey, and 11 were interviewed. Information from the concurrent “visioning” sessions were also used for this Review. 109 individuals participated in six visioning sessions. Participation in the data collection process was very high among faculty and staff, and more limited with student leaders and external community members. This report summarizes the findings and conclusions from those sources. It also includes recommendations based on the Review results.

Dean’s Dialogue Update

CBE Colleagues,

Firstly let me apologize for neglecting to bring the Minnesota snow infrastructure with me when I brought the Minnesota weather! I hope you are all managing with the disruptions and that we will get back into the swing of things soon.

Secondly, I have a few short updates to share with you on the Dean’s Dialogue process:

-The report from the survey and interviews has been delayed due to a family emergency which is resolving but has put Julius behind his schedule for our work. We believe the report will be ready by beginning of next week, thank you for your patience and understanding.

– We have tentatively planned to have Trevor return March 7/8 to help me conduct the external stakeholder focused part of the Dean’s Dialogue. This will primarily be through the Professional Advisory Committees and key partners in the community. Edgar and Keisha are helping to coordinate, so please let them know if you have suggestions on the invitation list.
– Trevor will also help consult with the communications efforts that have been ongoing, updated in my previous email.

-we are tentatively planning to have Julius return on March 13/14 or 14/15 to help build from the listening + learning towards planning. This will likely be focused around what would be effective ways to discuss mission/vision/values (just as a reminder, his expertise is on process, you all are the experts on content).
– I’m also asking him to offer insights on strategic approaches to equity, diversity and inclusion efforts and provide advice and feedback on how we might use our efforts to have greatest impact.
– He will also present material on the intercultural developmental inventory so we can plan future training and assessments, looking at how it might fit (or not) with training already done and with others that UW has found to be effective.

-My office hours will continue (look for announcements from Susanne Adamson ) but I will be reducing from 4 hours per week to 2 for the next few weeks so I can have time to see more of the classes and studios in action. Feel free to stop me and chat if you see me wandering around your spaces, or if there are particularly productive (and/or less disruptive) times for me to swing by, please advise Susanne.

-Not directly related to the Dean’s Dialogue, but something where the outcomes will be discussed: we are preparing for the CBE stop on the “Provost’s Walking Tour” where he has been visiting each of the colleges for 2-3 hours to better understand our opportunities and challenges. This is not a showcase, he particularly pointed out that he is quite familiar with all the great things we do and would like to hear more about what we hope to do and any obstacles or challenges we face. While we will be unable to tour him through very aspect of the college, we may be asking for a sample of studios, classrooms or other spaces to have examples of work posted or faculty or students available to talk about work. More information will be coming soon. His visit is Wednesday 2/27 in the afternoon, timing and agenda TBD.

Thanks everyone for your grace and resilience under difficult conditions!


p.s. if you are wishing for a bit of help achieving more grace and resilience, HERE is a resource on teaching strategies and tips for working with unexpectedly shortened class times.


Initial Survey Insights

Hello CBE community,

Thank you for an amazing level of participation in the survey! The survey and interviews wrapped on Monday evening, today Julius relayed to me the survey stats: 79% of the faculty, 63% of the staff submitted, giving very thorough and thoughtful responses. The affiliates/student leaders/external stakeholder response was lower but still respectable 22%, raising the possibility we need other means to reach these audiences. He also said there was an extraordinarily clear message advising what the Dean should do next:

#1 response by a wide margin was “Continue this process of listening and learning”

#2 response was “Work towards shared mission and values”

Julius expects the report late next week or early the following. While the report will be only one part of this process and a helpful tool for all of us, the clear (likely not a surprise to most everyone) themes noted above from the initial three day sessions have already been at the top of my to-do list since the start of the quarter. Below are some of the highlights from the first month of my listening and learning process.

The CBE communication team put together a website for updates and materials on the Dean’s Dialogue process. HERE is the link to the site, if you navigate to the blog (or follow the link HERE), there is more information on the bullets listed below. I know everyone’s email inbox gets a lot of traffic, so I will work with the communication team to limit the number of these emails and effectively use the site.

Thanks again for the warm welcome and for your patience as I continue to learn about the incredible work you all do at our College!


Some key highlights:

Listening and Learning

  • Dean’s Office hours, 2-4 hours per week open office hours, see email from Susanne weekly for exact times each week
  • Student outreach: live survey/poll on the student experience at CBE completed with 20 student leaders. Next steps are meetings with focus groups by degree program and walking tours of classes and studios
  • External audience outreach, currently planning survey, focus groups and kick off event
  • Renee’s attendance at faculty meetings, faculty/staff social events is planned
  • Renee has been attending or plans to attend events in the community once or twice per week

Reviews, Actions and Milestones

  • Review of decision-making on use of space in CBE buildings
  • Continuing to advance the development of CBE research engine, including hiring student worker and dedicating internal CBE IT expertise to support.
  • Preliminary discussions and planning for strategically advancing equity, diversity and inclusion
  • Developing communication plan for students, external audience and internal, including hiring of student workers to support the plans.
  • Mapping roles, responsibilities and processes starting with the Dean’s office and communication team
  • Developing targets and metrics for fund-raising for student support

Update from Renée on Dean’s Dialogue

Hello CBE community,

I have very much enjoyed my first two weeks, thank you again for your warm welcome and your patience as I get used to my new role and new context.
I don’t know yet what is the best communication style and pace for reaching you all but for today I wanted to send an update to the Dean’s Dialogue that was started last week.
  •  I have weekly open office hours, Susanne will announce early in the week
  • A forum of student leaders will be convened on Wednesday next week, we will use a slightly different version of the instant polling – hoping the attraction of pizza and a chance to be on their phones for an hour will draw a nice group of student leaders. If you would like to nominate a student to participate, please let Meegan know.
  • Professional outreach will be next week and week following, more information to come
  • Since it was a priority of my candidacy and has been rising to the top as an important theme, I’m starting planning for how CBE can take a strategic approach to increase equity, diversity and inclusion. There have been great efforts and enormous good will so far and CBE is ready to move with purpose and clear intent. These efforts can and should be done with help and in partnership while also building on the wonderful assets and efforts already in place. I’m exploring options and more will be coming soon, but plan for some events in mid March and possibly again in June.
Please remember to fill out the survey, link is HERE
If you have started the survey and saved it, or if you have not yet done it, please set a reminder to wrap and submit before Friday January 25. This is a very important part of the report that Julius is preparing, and a high participation rate would make it even more valuable.
Thank you and enjoy the long weekend honoring MLK!

Message to CBE faculty, staff and students from Dean Cheng


I’m thrilled to be here for the start of a new year in my new role in the CBE community! Thank you so much for the warm welcomes I’ve received and thanks also for your patience during the long transition time. In particular I would like to thank former Dean John Schaufelberger for his stewardship of the college and for being such a great partner during our leadership transition.
As you might have heard, I’m starting “a dean’s dialogue” for listening, learning and planning our future. These events will be unfolding over the next few quarters in a variety of formats and settings. I hope to reach everyone in the CBE community in whatever way works best for all of us. Your insights are invaluable to help me understand CBE’s activities, needs, potential and most importantly, its culture.
When my schedule becomes more clear, I will be setting up regular office hours in addition to other forums. But please also feel free to email me and/or invite me to any events or classes you would like me to see!
Thank you again for all your support and I’m very excited to be working with you as we move onward to CBE’s next opportunities!

City Unsilenced: Urban Resistance and Public Space in the Age of Shrinking Democracy

Jeff Hou is a professor of landscape architecture and adjunct professor of urban design and planning in the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. His research, teaching and practice focus on community design, design activism, cross-cultural learning and engaging marginalized communities in planning and design.

Hou has written extensively on the agency of citizens and communities in shaping the built environments. He is the author of several books, including Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities (2010).

His newest book is “City Unsilenced: Urban Resistance and Public Space in the Age of Shrinking Democracy,” co-edited by Sabine Knierbein, associate professor for urban culture and public space at the Vienna University of Technology, and published by Routledge. Hou answered a few questions about his book for UW News.

“Our main conclusion is this: These recent protests suggest the important role of public space in supporting active democracy at a time when our democratic institutions are being threatened and undermined by neoliberal practices and resurgence of totalitarianism.”

— Jeff Hou / professor of landscape architecture

Read the entire interview >

Urban Scholar Highlight: Heather Burpee


Heather Burpee is a Research Assistant Professor in University of Washington’s Department of Architecture and a director of the Integrated Design Lab in the Center for Integrated Design, located in the Bullitt Center. We sat down with her to discuss her work and research on high-performance buildings.

What are your current research interests at the University of Washington?

I am a research associate professor in the Department of Architecture, and I work in a small group called the Integrated Design Lab. We focus on ideas around high-performance buildings. What we think of as high-performance buildings are those that are both energy efficient and embody high quality attributes for people. Whether it’s for living or healing or learning, or any other aspect for how we use buildings.

How do high-performance buildings fit in the context of urban systems? 

Buildings are a big part of how the fabric of urban environments come together. While we at IDL think about the building scale, this intersects with the community scale as well as a smaller scale within the building. People perceive their environments in multiple scales and we’re always thinking about those intersections.

Read more.