• Thaïsa Way










    (note: image was taken by Easton Branam, MLA at the Suyama Space, Seattle)



    As Director of Urban@UW, I seek to bring together the brilliant research on urban challenges and opportunities at the UW with the deep knowledge and experience of Seattle's urban professionals and practitioners to foster the growth of resilient, healthy, affordable, and just cities, from Seattle to the metropolitan regions far and wide. To achieve this we convene, educate, instigate, and accelerate inclusive data-driven innovations for the future of cities.


    In the fall of 2016 I was delighted to begin my term as the Vice Chair of the UW Faculty Senate. In this role I support the Senate leadership in working with the University leadership to steward our public university. I will serve next year as Chair and look forward to continuing the excellent efforts of Zoe Barsness, the 2016-2017 Chair. The work involved in the Senate shapes the university and the academy in remarkable ways, always with the core value of building access and excellence for all students and generating new knowledge across all fields.


    I am also honored to be a member of the team leading the University of Washington's Population Health Initiative. In this role I am working on ways to support the contributions and participation of faculty, staff, and students from across the schools, colleges, and campuses on improving population health locally, regionally, and internationally. Collaborating with colleagues in Global Health, Public Health, and IHME as well as those in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and professional schools (Social Work, Law, Policy and Governance, and Built Environments) we are building a powerful collective that will have truly remarkable impact on the world. It is an audacious initiative and I am thrilled to be playing a small part.


    I also serve to support other collaborations across our disciplines and domains, including as a member of the Steering Committee for the eScience Institute and the newly launched Earthlab in the College of the Environment. These roles build on my commitment to strengthening the role of inclusive and innovative research in the efforts to improve the lives of all populations around the world. This work happens when we work collaboratively to address the diverse factors that shape human health and well-being, with a focus on improving the health of individuals and communities, enhancing environmental resiliency, and creating greater social and economic equity.




    My scholarship is framed by feminist histories of design and in particular the role of women as professionals and practitioners. I have sought to contribute to the growing body of scholarship in this area with a number of essays and my book , Unbounded Practices: Women, Landscape Architecture, and Early Twentieth Century Design (2009, University of Virginia Press, 2013, paperback edition). I have recently published the essay, "American Landscape Architecture at Mid-Century: Modernism, Science, and Art " in Women, Modernity, and Landscape Architecture edited by Sonja Dümpelmann, John Beardsley.


    Building on this work, I am intrigued by how design is imagined and practiced through history. How does a designer imagine a landscape that is not yet in existence? How does one create a work of art that is also a place of human engagement? How do landscapes as designed places foster human and environmental health and wellbeing. Where does the art of design intersect/ insert/ interact with the science of ecology? How do these become places of culture and social engagement? This is at the core of my forthcoming book on the designed landscapes of A. E. Bye, published by the LALH and Norton Publishing. It is also at the heart of my interviews for the PBS series- "10 that changed America " (with Dan Protess and Geoffrey Baer) for which the show "Ten Parks that Changed America" explored how these parks informed our shared ideas about what a park is and how landscape shapes urban culture. Check it out here. and my interview on the project for the blog DIRT/ ASLA here.


    A critical area of focus building on these interests focuses on urban landscapes and this work is the backbone of my recent publications and those under production- the first Now Urbanism: The Future City is Here (Routledge, 2014) and The Landscape Architecture of Richard Haag: From Modernism to Urban Ecological Design (UW Press, 2015). I am the editor for the book River Cities/ City Rivers that explores the role of river landscapes in the urbanism of a city, with the Dumbarton Oaks Garden and Landscape Studies.


    Recent projects have advanced the practice of sustainable design which must, in turn, address the complex web of environmental sustainability, social justice, and economic viability while creating potential for a rich and meaningful aesthetic experience. Landscape architecture has a critical opportunity to place itself at the center of contemporary discourse and policy-making on issues of ‘sustainable design’ and global warming. The department's vision to advance our knowledge of how we develop ecological infrastructures through our attention to natural processes, ecological planning and design, as well as technology is an important step towards leadership in the discipline and in the larger community of those concerned with sustainable development. Histories of design and the landscape play a critical role in the understanding, articulation, and development of the discipline and, more specifically, the potential of landscape architects to dynamically contribute to the making of exemplar culturally-based places.


    In 2015-2016 I was honored by being selected as the Garden Club of America Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. My project was a history of drawing as well as learning to draw. It was a remarkable experience and has catalyzed new scholarship as well as new approaches to teaching. I am truly grateful for this amazing experience.




    As a urban landscape historian teaching history, theory, and design. This includes lecture courses, seminars, studios, and workshop. My courses are in the history of cities and urban landscapes, the development of the profession of landscape architecture, and the ideas around creativity and innovation. I was thrilled to be awarded the College of Built Environments Pries Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2015, an honor awarded by the students to one faculty member each year.


    For more details see the most recent CV by clicking here.





    an initiative of the UW Office of Research and CoMotion

    Inclusive data-driven innovation for the future of cities

    The University of Washington is launching a major initiative in urban research and practice—Urban@UW—that brings together diverse disciplines and practices to foster healthy, sustainable, resilient, and equitable urban futures. Urban@UW will position the University of Washington as a model urban university across all three of its campuses (Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell) and the region. In turn we will foster the growth of Seattle as a model city—sustainable, efficient, resilient, livable, healthy, and equitable—building knowledge that can be used in cities and metropolitan regions around the globe. 


    Cities house a majority of the U.S. population, provide the economic scaffolding for the nation, and serve as engines of innovation. They also consume a major portion of the nation’s energy resources, are saddled with aging, inefficient infrastructure, and plagued with congestion. Cities face enormous social challenges—poverty, inequality, violence, security, and housing, —as well as ecological and public health issues. Further, cities are vulnerable to major disruptive events (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and disease) for which they are ill prepared, and face the uncertainty wrought by climate change. At the same time, cities offer economies of scale, a concentration of political will, and serve as vital incubators for economic, environmental, and social resilience.


    Cities are complex systems that result from the dynamic interaction of people, the natural and built environments, landforms and land use, transportation, culture, and economic development. History, the environment, human choice, and social institutions all shape the trajectory of how cities have developed and what they will become. Many disciplines intersect in the study of cities and colleges and schools across the university are already contributing to the collaborative focus of Urban@UW. Research in the humanities explores the multiple meanings, ideas and representations of cities and citizens in the past and present, and imagined in the future. Environmental scientists provide a path for mitigating the adverse effects of human activities on the ecosystem. Social scientists generate knowledge of how cities are socially, spatially and culturally created and understood. Engineers, statisticians, and computer scientists harness new sources of data to advance our fundamental understanding of these dynamic interactions. Urban designers and planners use this knowledge to design and construct livable and resilient urban environments. Finally, the professions of social work, education, nursing, medicine, law, and public health among others address how we foster and grow healthy and socially just communities.


    Why the University of Washington?



    The University of Washington is a public university with a mission to serve the State of Washington and its citizens, as well as serving as the city’s largest employer. As such, UW has a need and, indeed, an obligation to engage with public institutions and serve as a strong regional partner. Creating a bridge between the extraordinary research and teaching that occurs at UW and the issues faced by the city of Seattle and the greater metropolitan area, not only aligns with the academic mission of a public university but the broader community’s social, human, and economic needs.

    The University of Washington has a distinguished history of research and application in urbanism across the academic community, including but not limited to the Cities Collaboratory, the West Coast Poverty Center, the Urban Ecology Laboratory, and the eScience Institute as well as the Urban Studies program at the UW Tacoma campus. UW’s three campuses are home to a growing community of faculty members researching and teaching urban subjects, comprising a rich, multidisciplinary body of work on cities. It has established strong partnerships with nearby institutions, in particular the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This breadth of expertise and knowledge encompasses all aspects of city life and is essential to shaping urban research and practice in innovative and disruptive directions.


    Why the Seattle metropolitan region?



    As a result of its remarkable concentration of nationally and globally significant leaders and organizations and a long history of urban resilience and adaptability, Seattle is recognized internationally as a bellwether city. Located within a still evolving metropolitan area with interconnected urban, suburban, and rural environments and metro governance structure, the Puget Sound region offers opportunities for research and policy distinct from those of larger cities. As a global hub for technology and innovation, the Seattle metro area is “ground zero” for advanced computing technologies and especially cloud computing, with Microsoft and Amazon based here, a strong presence from Google, and a vibrant startup community. Socrata, the leading provider of open data solutions for government, is also based in Seattle. Additionally the region is a global leader in social and health innovation and investments with many leading agencies and organizations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

  • Research Areas


    Feminist histories, urban narratives, design and theory

    Feminist Histories and Alternative Narratives


    My interest in the narratives of women in landscape architecture has led to research engaging issues of gender, design, and social history in distinct ways. My dissertation was transformed, translated, altered, modified to become Unbounded Practice: Women in Landscape Architecture in the Early Twentieth Century. The book explores the narrative of landscape architectural history within the larger framework of the emerging profession in the twentieth century.


    Building on these explorations I have concentrated on how collective narratives of practice might inform the broader domain of landscape architecture history.I was a Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation Fellow in 2008 and was invited by the Foundation to present my research at the Guggenheim Museum (New York) in June 2009. The paper, “Constellations and Collective Histories: Women and Landscape Architecture,” described how a collective narrative expands our understanding and reading of the past and present, and by implication, the future.


    More recently I have extended my research to consider women designers at midcentury, which was the topic of my lecture, "Emerging Modernisms: Women at Midcentury for Women and Modernism in Landscape Architecture at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 17, 2011. This is currently being transformed into a chapter to be included in “Women in Post-War Practice in the United States” in Rewriting the Modernist Landscape: Gender and Geography, John Beardsley and Sonja Duempelmann, editors, forthcoming by Routledge Publishing 2014.


    For a recent blog post: 



    About Marjorie Sewell Cautley and Phipps Houses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWNpR0F2hMs

    Urbanism and Cities Collaborative Research


    Urban@UW is an initiative of the Office of Research and CoMotion at UW to foster a community of urban researchers, teachers, and practitioners. As the recently appointed director, I will be building the scaffold to nurture a growing community across the academy and the region committed to addressing the grand challenges of urbanism in the 21st century.


    While my research is primarily historical, I have sought to contribute to the intense discourse around sustainable design and urbanisms. Working closely with Margaret O’Mara in the History Department at UW, we developed the program, Now Urbanism: City Building in the 21st Century and Beyond, awarded a John E. Sawyer Seminar on Comparative Cultures grant ($174,000) funded by the Mellon Foundation with significant support from the Simpson Center for the Humanities, the College of Built Environments, and the College of Arts & Sciences (September, 2010 - December, 2012.) The project hosted nine monthly three-day symposiums on perspectives on urbanism for a year followed by quarterly workshops for faculty and practitioners. At the end of the two-year period we had engaged over 100 faculty participants and 1500 public attendees in the urban- oriented discussions.


    The project framed new avenues of investigation through trans-disciplinary scholarship and practice and more specifically, the role of digital tools to enrich historical investigations and analysis. It generated a larger project: the UW Cities Collaboratory with the shared framework that considers cities as sites and agents of economic expansion, social interaction, political development, and cultural and intellectual incubation.To address these complexities, we must bring the best minds and ideas to the table




    Now Urbanism


    Op-Ed on Environmental Justice and Earth Day


    An annotated list of related and interesting projects others are leading....click here

    more details...

    For more publications, lectures, and professional engagement, you can read the whole cv by clicking here or going to my faculty webpage 

  • Landscape Architecture Histories

    Exploring the histories of built environments

    Describing a new discipline

    History of landscape architecture is a complex endeavor as it engages narratives of our built environments, in their entirety and spans the entirety of human's existence,at least in theory. It is also the history of settlements on the land, making of place in the landscape. Thus it is about the history of cities, or the process of urbanization, by which cities are generated. Or it can mean the history of the profession of Landscape Architecture beginning with the emergence of design disciplines or professions in the Rennaissance. For others it is more recent, in the history of the profession that we know today, thus beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. For most it is a combination of these- a history of intentional design, making of the first settlements and cities, all the way through what we call a profession today in the 21st century. 


    In my research, landscape history engages multiple and diverse narratives about human relationships to landscape and our efforts to design, shape, manipulate landscape as a spatial medium for pleasure, for production, and for settlement. For my research, it is the intentionally spatial nature of  designed landscapes that interest me rather than the production for example of agriculture which is generally focused on what can be produced, not how the land is shaped or formed. Cities and urban landscapes (streets, buildings, neighborhoods, transportation systems, infrastructural networks....) play critical roles as designed landscapes as do gardens, parks, and national parks. Together, as a whole, these designed landscapes frame our existence, our past, present, and futures on the planet aesthetically, socially, culturally, economically, politically, .... Furthermore I am intriqued by the designers, who imagines the design and how is it constructed? used and received? How do designed landscapes shape how we live in the world, an increasingly urban world? How can design foster civil society and sustainable life habits? 


    Here in the USA, there are a select few organizations of landscape historians or landscape architectural historians, each offering a different framework:


    Landscape History Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians


    Dumbarton Oaks Garden and Landscape Studies


    Library of American Landscape History


    Foundation for Landscape Studies


    Society for Landscape Studies


    There are regionally based groups that focus on education, outreach, and preservation practice:


    California Garden and Landscape History Society


    New England Landscape Design & History Association


    Southern Garden History Society


    There are also excellent associations that support the work of landcape historians, particularly in research of preservation issues:


    The Cultural Landscape Foundation


    Garden Conservancy


    This is by no means a comprehensive list but provides a sense of the breadth and depth of current research, pedagogy, and engagement within the broad discipline and practice of landscape history. There are more organizations and associations in Europe, and around the world. 


    Teaching and researching history and design from within the College of Built Environments at the UW offers a means to bridge practice and theory, to study our past in order to define our potential futures as designers, planners, and visionaries (paraphrased from Confucius). 



  • “Study the past if you would define the future.”
    ― Confucius

    Book Projects

    Landscape Architect A.E. Bye: Sculpting the Earth, Modern Landscape Design Series, Library of American Landscape History & W.W. Norton Publishing, expected publication Fall 2016.


    From Modern Space to Urban Ecological Design: the Landscape Architecture of Richard Haag, 2015, University of Washington Press. See a trailer by clicking here

    For an interview at Seattle Town Hall between Thaisa Way and Richard Haag, see 




    with Jeff Hou, Ben Spencer, and Ken Yocom, eds. Now Urbanism: The Future City Is Here, 2014, Routledge Publishing.


    Unbounded Practice: Women and Landscape Architecture in the early Twentieth Century. University of Virginia Press, 2009, 288 pages (**paperback Fall 2013).


    Unbounded Practice: Women in Landscape Architecture in the Early Twentieth Century, explores the narrative of landscape architectural history within the larger framework of the emerging profession in the twentieth century. The book was selected to be the Faculty Book Award in the department of Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia and was awarded the 2009 Faculty Award for Completed Work by the UW College of Built Environments. In 2010 it was awarded the John Brinkerhoff Jackson Award by the Landscape Studies Foundation


    A co-edited book with Jeff Hou, Ben Spencer, and Ken Yocom titled Now Urbanism: The Future City has recently been released by Routledge. This collection of essays by practitioners and researchers draws on a continued interest in how history and theory contribute to stronger and more resilient futures. This research focus builds on the practice, teaching, and research of the UW faculty in compelling ways. 


    As for my book on Richard Haag, it is part a monograph on his work as a landscape architect and founder of the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Washington, and it is a book on the emergence of urban ecological design as a framework for practice in the 21st century. While numerous essays note Haag's designs for the post industrial landscapes of Gas Works Park and Bloedel Reserve, there is little else published. My book offers a critical examination of Haag's praxis positioned within the histories of ecological design, post industrial landscape theory, and the discourses of modernism. In addition I was awarded a Graham Foundation exhibition grant for a two-part exhibit that considered Haag's influence on the profession of landscape architecture, in particular his legacy in ecological design, adaptive reuse of post-industrial sites, and design activism. In support of the Haag project, I was awarded a grant from the Royalty Research Fund ($15,401) and teaching release as a Royalty Research Fellow for 2009 and 2010. I was also awarded a Graham Foundation exhibition grant for a two-part exhibit on the work and legacy of Richard Haag from 2010-2012. More recently I was honored with an award for publication from the Marion Dean Ross Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.


    I am finishing a manuscript on A.E. Bye (to be published by Norton Press in 2016), focused in particular on his experiments with land form, his ecological design interests, and his collaborative efforts with modernist architects from Marcel Breuer to John Hejduk. This work has led to both serving as the Inaugural Bye Fellow and to my appointment as the Stuckeman Professor of Interdisciplinary Design at Pennsylvania State University in 2014. In the latter position I will co-lead with an architect a design studio on practicing collaboration as revealed through a study of the Wall house and garden by A.E. Bye and John Hejduk.



  • Teaching

    Design, history, and theory

    Design Studios

    College of Built Environments, University of Washington

    LARC 507 Lake 2 Bay: The Healthiest Neighborhood in the World, an Urban Design Advanced Studio for LARCH and ARCH graduate students, Fall 2014.


    LARC 301 Introductory Design Studio, taught with Julie Parrett, Fall 2012. LARC 323 Planting Design (Introduction to Trees), Fall 2012.


    LARC 507 Acqua Romane: Re-imagining the urban waterfront, Studio taught at the UW Rome Center with Rob Corser and Ann Huppert, Architecture, UW Rome Center, Rome, Italy. Fall 2011.


    BELAB 598 InBEtween Climate and Built Environments: Designing for Urgent Change on the Pacific Rim, Collaboratively led with Ken Tadashi Oshima, Architecture, including travel to Japan for 12 days with students, Spring 2011.


    LARC 700 Design Thesis Studio, Collaboratively led with Julie Parrett, Winter 2010. LARC 507 Landscape & Art /The Japanese Garden as Cultural Translation, Spring 2009.


    LARC 301 Design Foundation Studio, Fall 2007/ 2008 /2012 (Jointly taught).


    State University of New York: College of Environmental Science & Forestry

    LSA 326 Design Studio I: Site Inventory and Analysis, Fall 2006 (Jointly taught).


    LSA 227 Foundations Design Studio II, Spring 2006/ 2007 (Jointly taught).


    LSA 226 Foundations Design Studio I, Fall 2005/ 2006. (Jointly taught).

    Lecture Courses and Seminars

    College of Built Environments, University of Washington

    LARC 4/598 Urban Environmental History: An American Context, Winter 2013.


    LARC 590B Introduction to Faculty Research, Fall 2012.


    LARC 452 History of Urban Design, Fall 2009/ Spring 2012.


    LARC 498 History of Roman Urbanism: Architecture and Landscape, with Ann Huppert, Architecture, UW Rome Center, Rome, Italy. Fall 2011.


    LARC 412 Advanced Communication: Graphic Representation, with Rob Corser, Architecture, UW Rome Center, Rome, Italy. Fall 2011.


    LARC 352 History of Landscape Architecture, Fall 2008/ 2009/ 2010/ 2012.


    LARC 552 History of Landscape Architecture Graduate Seminar, Fall 2008/ 2009/ 2010.


    LARC 353 History of Modern Landscape Architecture, Winter 2008/ 2009/ 2011/2012/2013


    LARC 553 Modern Landscape Architecture Graduate Seminar, Winter 2008/ 2009/ 2011/2012/2013.


    LARC 570 Scholarship and Inquiry: Theory in Landscape Architecture, Winter 2011.


    ARCH 591 Architecture & Landscape, Spring 2009/ Spring 2010/ 2011.


    LARC 571 Research Methods in Landscape Architecture, Winter 2008.


    LARC 590A Cultural Landscapes and Vernacular Architecture, Spring 2008.


    LARC 590B Urban Agriculture: Readings, Winter 2008 (MLA research group).


    LARC 590C Teaching / Design Critique, Autumn 2007.


    State University of New York: College of Environmental Science & Forestry

    LSA 640 Research Methods in Landscape Architecture, Spring 2006/ 2007.


    LSA 496 Modernist Manifestos in Landscape Architecture, Spring 2006.


    LSA 496 Modernisms in Landscape Architecture, Fall 2005.


    LSA 496 Architecture Across Cultures, Spring 2007.


    LSA 425 Off Campus Design Studio (Japan) Spring/Summer 2007.


    LSA 498 Aesthetics of Sustainable Design, Spring 2007.

  • How to contact me

    348F Gould Hall
    Box 355734
    Seattle WA 98195-5734
    206 685 2523


     CBE/Landscape Architecture/Faculty