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.

College of Built Environments Year in Review

In spite of the many challenges we faced, it was a year of many accomplishments for the College of Built Environments (CBE), below are some highlights of the many events and achievements to celebrate from 2021.

Year in Review 2021 with College of Built Environments logo on a photo of Gould Hall with a purple overlay

CBE welcomed students back to in-person education in the Autumn with a series of tours of notable places and spaces in Seattle hosted by our professional partners. The College adopted its 5-year Strategic Framework through a highly collaborative process. We were proud to welcome Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, to the College for a discussion on climate solutions led by Carbon Leadership Forum Director and Chair of the Department of Architecture, Kate Simonen. We continued our #CBEchronicles lecture series in partnership with our faculty-led Humanities, Histories, and Futures group. We also hosted several successful events – the Runstad Real Estate Leadership Dinner, Mind’s Eye Sketchbook: Celebrating 50 years of art and observation by John Owen dedicated to the Urban Design and Planning department Endowed Equity Fund, and the Construction Management Hall of Fame. We were excited to launch the inaugural Aspire Program, connecting UW students with industry leaders to explore equity in real estate.

Members of the CBE community were featured in publications such as The Seattle Times, Fast Company, Forbes, and The New York Times.

The College and our members received numerous awards this year, highlighting a few of these accolades: John Schaufelberger, professor of Construction Management and Dean Emeritus, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Associated Schools of Construction; Rick Mohler, associate professor of Architecture, was elevated to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows; Thaïsa Way, professor of Landscape Architecture, was awarded the Bradford Williams Medal in recognition of excellence in writing about landscape architecture; the Nehemiah Interdisciplinary Studio: Building Beloved Community received a Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Curriculum Innovation Award; Kate Simonen, chair of the Department of Architecture, was awarded the AIA Seattle Community Service Award. And finally, the Scan Design Foundation was awarded UW Presidential Laureate status for their generosity over the years totaling more than $10M and encompassing programs within the College of Built Environments, the College of the Environment, the College of Arts & Sciences, and UW Medicine.

We were grateful to expand the ways we support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students at the college with the creation of the BIPOC landscape architecture scholarship and the Urban Design and Planning Endowed Equity Fund. And we were thrilled to partner with MIG Inc. in creating the MIG Scholarship Fund For The Design of Equitable and Inclusive Environments.

Despite difficult and unprecedented challenges the last year, students persevered and we were immensely proud to award over 340 degrees across our bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. programs.

It was also a productive year for CBE research. Our scholars published over fifty-five peer-reviewed research articles, books, and other research output. In 2021 we conducted over $3 million in funded research; you can learn about this work at the CBE Research Portal. We also launched the CBE Inspire Fund, which supported six projects in its inaugural year. The Fund is designed to support college research activities for which a relatively small amount of support can be transformative. And, in alignment with our Strategic Framework, CBE scholars are working in transdisciplinary “communities of practice” to explore new research frontiers in the topics of climate solutions; humanities, histories, and futures; and technology in the built environments.

Our top news stories of the year were:

  1. These acoustic panels reduce noise within buildings by up to 60% | Fast Company
  2. So you can’t afford a house in Seattle. Are investors to blame? | The Seattle Times
  3. The internet is killing the environment. These students came up with a brilliant design fix | Fast Company
  4. Using Afrofuturism principles to keep, grow Black culture in Seattle’s Central District | KNKX
  5. A Seattle Skyscraper’s Rise Helps Shatter a Glass Ceiling | Seattle Met
  6. Architecture students envision a greater Gould Hall | UW Magazine
  7. Seattle Black Faith Leaders Urge Mayor Durkan Not to Sign Amended Density Bonus Bill | The Urbanist
  8. ​​Renovated Mills Offer a Perk in the Age of Social Distancing: Space | The New York Times
  9. Biden has big plans for homelessness — but will they help Seattle? | The Seattle Times
  10. Climate Pledge Arena goes on offense with sustainability goals | KUOW

In 2022, we’re excited to continue working across disciplines and sectors to realize a more just and beautiful world. As part of that work, we’re bringing in 5 new thought leaders through our faculty cohort hire; providing our students with immersive educational experiences; and developing an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion strategic plan.

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!

40 years of Design and Making: Celebrating the Life of Andy Vanags

Andris (“Andy”) Vanags was instrumental in the initiation of the design/build program and the creation of furniture studios that have become hallmarks of the Department of Architecture. The furniture program has grown from a 3-credit course introducing students to the study of “making,” to a 6-credit studio that now sometimes includes traveling to Denmark and working with renowned Danish furniture makers.

Each year, students have the opportunity to design and fabricate their own piece of furniture using the facilities located in the College of Built Environments. Students, many of whom have no furniture making experience, are able to learn how to craft and design their pieces using tools in our wood and metal labs, in addition to the laser cutters and CNC routers. Keeping in mind scale, costs, deadlines, and materials, students are expected to complete their furniture piece within the ten week quarter. The pace is quick, with students spending most of their free time outside of studio and on weekends in the shop making mock-ups, sanding, and sketching out ideas.

Prof. Jeffrey Ochsner, author of the 2012 book Furniture Studio, was a longtime colleague and friend of Andy’s.   Upon Andy’s recent death (on October 13, 2019, at his home in San Diego, CA) he penned the following tribute, which we share with you below.

As a member of the Department of Architecture for forty years, Andy was a key figure in the development of the department and college culture of craft and making, Andy was born in Latvia, in 1942.  In 1944 his family fled to the west, and eventually came to the United States settling in Brooklyn, where Andy graduated from high school in 1960. During the summers he worked as a carpenter. After a term at Pratt Institute, he came to Seattle and soon found work as a member of the team working on the Dyna-Soar space plane at Boeing. In December 1964, he entered the UW Art School in the program in industrial design.

Andy graduated with his BFA in Industrial Design in 1968.  During his years as a student, he had been introduced to our shop facilities through shared courses; he also befriended Professor Phil Thiel.  When shop director Berner Kirkebo was forced to resign due to illness, the college (through Phil Thiel) offered the position to Andy.  He became the shop director in April 1969.  Initially Andy was a staff member, teaching just a single class on tools and materials, but once Gould Hall opened, he developed a suite of courses establishing the shops (now Fabrication Labs) as a center of pedagogy.  Over time his courses included “Materials and Processes,” “Wood Design,” Light Frame Assemblies,” Technological Foundations” (Arch 300 studio) and others.

In 1977, Andy and Barry Onouye initiated the department’s first design/build offering, a summer course titled ”Playground Construction.”  Almost a decade later, when liability became an issue, Barry and Andy redirected the design-build studio to other kinds of projects. (After 1992, Steve Badanes took on the design-build studio and he continues to lead it today.)

In the late 1970s and 1980s Andy made connections with the growing number of studio furniture makers in our region, and, in 1984, he offered the Architecture Department’s first furniture design and fabrication class, initially for only three credits.  In 1989 the furniture class became a six-credit studio which Andy, assisted by new shop manager Penny Maulden, taught for the next twenty years.  By 1991 the furniture studio was offered to graduate students one quarter, and to senior undergraduates another quarter — the pattern that continues today.

From the very first, the quality of the work in the furniture studio was recognized through the numerous awards received by student projects in professional furniture competitions in the region, and in a national competition in 2004.  Five student projects were also included in the book 500 Chairs in 2008.

Andy fully retired from teaching after the Winter Quarter 2009 furniture studio.  The furniture program has continued under the leadership of Kimo Griggs and Penny Maulden.  Although some of the classes that Andy created have been discontinued, and others have changed with the introduction of digital tools and techniques, the culture of craft and making that Andy developed in his forty years in the department and college has become a significant part of our identity.

In 2018 Andy Vanags was recognized with the CBE Distinguished Faculty Award for Lifetime Achievement.  Andy touched many lives and helped shape many careers.

Jeffrey Ochsner
October 2019

A celebration of Andy’s life will take place in Gould Hall on Saturday afternoon, January 25, 2020. Please watch for more details that should be posted soon.


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.