CBE welcomes new cohort of faculty

In pursuit of our vision for a more just and beautiful world, the College of Built Environments is implementing an important part of our strategic framework: growing our capacity for collaborative interdisciplinary work with the goal of advancing climate solutions. We are excited to announce the first wave of CBE’s new faculty cohort! Each brings new strengths and perspectives and as a group, they have the potential to be an effective team who, together with the excellent faculty already at CBE, will accelerate the positive impact of our teaching, research, and engagement.

One of the most important steps in implementing the College of Built Environments strategic framework is growing our capacity for collaborative interdisciplinary work with the goal of advancing climate solutions which are at the heart of our vision for a more just and beautiful world. In the college, we invested in a search process to bring a cohort of faculty to add to our already collaborative culture. Over this academic year, we have invested time and energy in mapping out research and teaching opportunities that these new faculty could join or initiate and checking that our culture was as welcoming as possible. This led to understanding departmental priorities and areas of opportunity for promoting college-level strategic goals. The result was a wonderful dialogue leading to an unprecedented cohort hiring effort launched in the Autumn Quarter.

The search attracted applicants from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds and demographic diversity along many dimensions, including race, gender, and ethnicity. There were strong themes of using big data and machine learning to develop tools and processes to address disparities in built environments impacts as well as addressing climate mitigation. We were encouraged by the response to the call, yet realize there is much work still to be done. We are committed to continuing this work next year with additional searches, considering tenure-track and teaching-track opportunities. The compelling vision for the cohort attracted positive responses from across the world for applicants and nominations. Closer to home at UW, the Provost recognizes the hard work to develop our goals and initiate this search and he congratulates us on our success. The strength of our alignment with UW priorities created synergies that brought funding from sources such as the UW Office of Provost, Office of Research, Office of Faculty Advancement, Clean Energy Institute, and the Escience Institute.

The first of its kind for the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington, this faculty listing for an interdisciplinary cohort attracted applications from across the globe with a broad range of collaborative research and teaching interests. We are thrilled with the interest, and excited to welcome and support our new faculty who will continue to expand our capacity as we seek to develop opportunities for engaging and investing in our communities in an effort to build a more just and beautiful future.

– Ken Yocom, faculty lead for the cohort hire

The College of Built Environments is thrilled to welcome this esteemed cohort of new interdisciplinary faculty to our community. Read about each of the full-time tenure-track faculty below.


Narjes Abbasabadi

Narjes Abbasabadi, Ph.D., is an architect, researcher, and educator. Dr. Abbasabadi currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington. She earned her Ph.D. in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). She also holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in architecture from Tehran Azad University. Prior to joining UTA, she taught in the College of Architecture at IIT. Dr. Abbasabadi’s research investigates sustainability, environmental technologies, and computation in the built environment. Much of her work focuses on developing frameworks and tools to investigate urban building energy systems, human-energy interactions, ambient intelligence, and sensing to enable dynamic exploration of performance-driven and human-centered design. Her work has been published in premier journals, including Applied Energy, Building and Environment, Energy and Buildings, and Sustainable Cities and Society.

Dr. Abbasabadi received honors and awards, including “ARCC Dissertation Award Honorable Mention” (Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC), 2020), “Best Ph.D. Program Dissertation Award” (IIT CoA, 2019), and 2nd place in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Race to Zero Design Competition (DOE, 2018). In 2018, she organized the 3rd IIT CoA International Symposium on Buildings, Cities, and Performance. She served as editor of the third issue of Prometheus Journal, which received the 2020 Haskell Award from AIA New York, Center for Architecture. She has practiced with several firms and institutions and led design research projects such as developing national design codes and prototypes for low-carbon buildings. Most recently, she practiced as an architect with Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG), where she has been involved in major projects, including the 2020 World Expo.


Celina Balderas Guzmán

Landscape Architecture
Celina Balderas Guzmán works across environmental planning, design, and science on a diverse set of research projects broadly focused on water flows, particularly coastal climate adaptation, urban stormwater, and green infrastructure. In adaptation, Celina studies how shoreline strategies for sea level rise could shift socio-ecological vulnerabilities at a regional scale in the future. Specifically, she uses ecological modeling to examine the impacts of future shoreline hardening/softening on coastal wetlands and the communities that depend on them for coastal protection. By documenting these interactions, Celina’s research contributes to greater effectiveness in adaptation to sea level rise at a regional scale.

In urban stormwater, Celina studies how pollution relates to the urban form and human activity of watersheds using data science methods in collaboration with environmental scientists. Before studying its root causes, Celina developed green infrastructure designs to address stormwater pollution and flooding. In collaboration with environmental engineers, Celina created innovative designs for wetlands that combine hydraulic performance, ecological potential, and recreation into one landscape form.

Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, UC Berkeley, UC Berkeley Global Metropolitan Studies, and the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab. She is completing a PhD in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley in summer 2022. From MIT, she obtained two masters degrees in urban planning and urban design, as well as an undergraduate degree in architecture.


Dylan Stevenson

Urban Design and Planning
Dylan Stevenson’s (Prairie Band Potawatomi descent) research examines how culture informs planning strategies and influences land relationships. More specifically, he investigates how tribal epistemologies structure notions of Indigenous futurities by centering Indigenous cultural values at the forefront of environmental stewardship and cultural preservation. He is currently working on a project researching how governments (Federal, State, and Tribal) embed cultural values in Water Resources Planning strategies, drawing from ethnographic research he conducted in the joint territory of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. His other research interests include ecological restoration, intangible cultural heritage, and food systems planning. Previously, Dylan has worked for public and quasi-public entities dealing with the implementation and compliance of local, state, and federal legislation in California and has forthcoming work analyzing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in planning programs.

Dylan is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. He earned his master’s degree in Planning with a concentration in Preservation and Design of the Built Environment from the University of Southern California, a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics with a minor in Native American Studies from the University of California—Davis, and an associate of arts degree in Liberal Arts from De Anza College.


Lingzi Wu

Construction Management
Dr. Lingzi Wu is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta. She graduated from Tianjin University with a dual degree in Civil Engineering and English in 2010 and obtained her MSc and PhD in Construction Engineering and Management from the University of Alberta in 2013 and 2020 respectively. Prior to her PhD, Dr. Wu worked in the residential construction sector as a site engineer with Changzhou Erjian from 2010 to 2011 and in the industrial construction sector as a project coordinator with PCL Industrial from 2013 to 2017.

An interdisciplinary scholar focused on advancing digital transformation in construction, Dr. Wu’s current research interests include (1) integration of advanced data analytics and complex system modeling to enhance construction practices and (2) development of human-in-the-loop decision support systems to improve construction performance (e.g., sustainability and safety). Dr. Wu has published 10 papers in top journals and conference proceedings, including the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering, and Automation in Construction. Her research and academic excellence notable recognition, including a “Best Paper Award” at the 17th International Conference on Modeling and Applied Simulation.

As an educator and mentor, Dr. Wu aims to create an inclusive, innovative, and interactive learning environment where students develop personal, technical, and transferable skills to grow today, tomorrow, and into the future. The effectiveness of her teaching is evidenced by students’ comments that can be found at https://xiaomoling.github.io/PersonalWebsite/#/teaching.


Ruoniu (Vince) Wang

Real Estate
Ruoniu (Vince) Wang joins CBE’s new faculty cohort from Grounded Solutions Network, a national nonprofit organization promoting inclusive communities through housing strategies with lasting affordability. In his capacity as the Research Director, Vince spearheads the organization’s research agenda to track the prevalence, practice, and impact of shared-equity homeownership programs. He compiled the first census of inclusionary housing in the U.S. and currently leads a census of community land trusts in North America.

More generally, Vince studies spatial justice and inclusive communities, including their impacts reflected in the built environment, human behaviors, and policy interventions. He was/is the PI/Co-PI of eight funded research projects totaling over $1 million. Vince grounds his research with applied tools to democratize data for low-income communities. His work has been published in academic journals such as the Journal of the American Planning Association, Urban Studies, Housing Studies, and Housing Policy Debate, as well as through other publishers such as Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Cityscape, and Shelterforce.

Vince received his masters and doctorate in Urban and Regional Planning with a minor in Real Estate from the University of Florida. In 2005, he spent one year at CBE as an undergraduate exchange student from China. Vince is excited about his new role as a scholar and educator that builds upon extensive professional experience in public, nonprofit, research, and for-profit sectors.

Honoring Black History Month – A Message from the CBE Diversity Council

The CBE Diversity Council, made up of Faculty, Staff, and Students, recently shared a message in honor of Black History Month that celebrates the contributions of a few Black scholars and built environment professionals. We invite you to take the time to honor Black History Month and participate in the observance in some way! Read the message below and see a selection of resources shared to help you in your learning about justice, equity, and inclusion.

Dear CBE Community,

As we enter February, we begin the celebration of Black History Month, an annual observance that was first proposed by Black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. This observance was then formally recognized by the US president in 1976, and has been practiced ever since. Now, in 2022, in the face of continued oppression and structural racism, we continue to celebrate Black History Month as a way to honor Black life, voices, history and art and the African diasporic peoples who have built this nation.

We wish to honor the contributions of Black scholars and built environment professionals who have thrived despite racism to help build a better world. We call out a few initiatives that have inspired us, including:

Nehemiah Initiative created to empower the African-American community by to supporting the retention of historically Black institutions by advocating for development of real property assets owned by historically Black institutions

Wa Na Wari – a Seattle Central Area-based non-profit organization that creates space for Black ownership, possibility, and belonging through art, historic preservation, and connection

CBE Black History Highlight

Here we would like to highlight a member of our community, Maisha Barnett, a recent CBE graduate and staff member currently in the role of Assistant to the Associate Deans.  Maisha and her family have had profound and lasting impacts on the City of Seattle and WA State more broadly.  Her great paternal grandfather, John Conna, was head of the first Black family in Tacoma and was recently honored with the City of Federal Way Black History Month Proclamation.  A successful Real Estate Broker, Conna actively recruited African Americans to migrate to the PNW and later became the first Black political appointee in the history of Washington.  In addition, Maisha’s paternal grandfather, Powell Samuel Barnett, was a Seattle-based musician, civil rights activist, and African American community leader.  He was recognized for his work during his life and in 1969 Powell Barnett Park was named for him.  Maisha’s father, Douglas Quinton Barnett, was a Black theater and arts advocate recognized posthumously with Douglas Q. Barnett Street named in his honor in November 2020.  Maisha carries on the legacy and impact that her family has had in Seattle through her work in public space development and service on numerous park boards and commissions.  We are proud to have her as part of our CBE community!

For those interested in learning more around justice, equity, and inclusion, check out the list below, which represents just some of the vast resources on this subject.

Please take the time to honor Black History Month and participate in the observance in some way!

In solidarity,

CBE Diversity Council

*Some of the resources below were pulled from existing sources across campus and we thank the School of Public Health and the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center, among others, for their work and willingness to share

READ – books, essays, articles, poems

  • Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, by bell hooks

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison

  • Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi Coates

  • Black Landscapes Matter by Kofi Boone

  • Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African-Americans to the Great Outdoors by Carolyn Finney

  • Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

  • Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown

  • Gang of Four by Bob Santos

  • Gather the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

  • Heavy by Kiese Layman

  • Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America by R. Eric Thomas

  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and other writings by Maya Angelou

  • Incognegro by Mat Johnson

  • Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope by Karamo Brown

  • Kindred by Octavia Butler

  • Letter from Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

  • March by John Lewis

  • Miles Morales Spider Man by Jason Reynolds

  • My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem

  • Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

  • Real Life by Brandon Taylor

  • Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches and other works by Audre Lorde

  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

  • Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks

  • The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson

  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

  • The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

  • The Inner Work of Racial Justice by Rhonda V. Magee

  • The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, and other writings by Langston Hughes

  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

  • Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America, by Keisha Blain

  • When Ivory Towers Were Black by Sharon Sutton

  • Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis


LISTEN – music, music videos & podcasts


LOOK – TV, movies, visual art


BUY – Enjoy goods and services from Black-owned businesses


CARE – Mental health & wellbeing resources

College of Built Environments
Diversity Council

Archinect Deans List: Renée Cheng on How Comprehensive Design Can Engender Inclusivity

The Deans List is an interview series with the leaders of architecture schools, worldwide. The series profiles the school’s programming, as defined by the dean — giving an invaluable perspective into the institution’s unique curriculum, faculty and academic environment.

Read entire Q&A on Archinect

For this installment, Archinect spoke with current University of Washington College of Built Environments dean Renée Cheng. A licensed architect with years of experience working at firms like Pei, Cobb, Freed and Partners and her personal practice, Cheng-Olson Design, Cheng has specialized in researching the application of new technologies within the design and construction process while also helping to pioneer innovative project delivery approaches. In our interview, Cheng shares how these approaches can be applied to the wide-ranging curriculum of an integrated design program.


Dean Cheng speaking at a recent Women in Construction symposium in Seattle. Image courtesy of McKinstry.

Briefly describe CBE’s pedagogical stance on architecture education.

The University of Washington’s (UW) Department of Architecture sits within the multidisciplinary College of Built Environments (CBE) that includes the specific disciplines most central to the built environment: architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and planning, construction management, and real estate. The Department of Architecture recently completed a major revision of the professional degree program to further emphasize research, collaboration, and integration. These three themes are reflected in the other departments as well, creating a college with unique disciplinary strengths that can collaborate effectively.

design build
Photo of students participating in a neighborhood design-build studio. Image courtesy of UW CBE.

What insights from your past professional experience are you hoping to integrate or adopt as the dean?

Running my own firm, as well as working in architectural firms large and small, has given me a healthy respect for the hard work it takes to run a firm today, as well as unbounded optimism for how architectural profession can become more relevant, resilient, and equitable.

My research and teaching experience has focused on emerging practices, everything from technologies like parametric design to organizational systems like lean and/or equitable practices.

I’m also interested to see how far we can carry the focus around collaboration, asking what it would mean for all of the faculty, students, and staff to be effective collaborators.

With these experiences in mind, I am applying some practices of inclusion and values-based decision-making to understanding the processes of the college. I’m also interested to see how far we can carry the focus around collaboration, asking what it would mean for all of the faculty, students, and staff to be effective collaborators.

All of this is related to the research practices program that I started at the University of Minnesota. I am in the process of growing that model and network here at the UW with the multiple disciplines of the college. At UW, for example, we are starting an applied research consortium with a group of founding members we hope to announce before the start of the next academic year.

Read the rest on Archinect