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Thaïsa Way Retires from the Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Washington

by Landscape Architecture, College of Built Environments, University of Washington | Jul 13, 2022

In June 2022, Professor Thaïsa Way will be retiring and redirecting from the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington as she pursues her work at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collections, a research institute of Harvard University. Since joining the faculty in 2007, Thaïsa has served as educator, mentor, and friend to many – consistently encouraging all of us to look to the past to help frame and inspire the future. Throughout her career, Thaïsa has critically interrogated the Western canons of urban and landscape history to both broaden the reach and diversify the voices of histories that have shaped our designed landscapes and cities.

She is well known for her publications and lectures on feminist histories in landscape architecture and public space in cities drawing from her first book Unbounded Practices: Women, Landscape Architecture, and Early Twentieth Century Design (University of Virginia Press 2009) which was awarded the J.B. Jackson Book Award in 2012. She followed with another book, From Modern Space to Urban Ecological Design: the Landscape Architecture of Richard Haag (University of Washington Press 2015), exposing many under-explored narratives of post-industrial cities in relation to the practice of landscape architecture and has since collaborated on several edited volumes and monographs, as well as many scholarly journal and professional publications. As part of her work, she was named the 2015-2016 Garden Club of America Fellow in Landscape Architecture at the American Academy in Rome advancing a project, Drawing Histories of Landscape Architecture, before returning to UW to establish the drawing seminar and workshop series in the Department of Landscape Architecture which invites artists and creative practitioners to explore drawing as a creative, but more importantly critical practice for advancing design thinking and investigation.

"Thaïsa Way had a foundational influence on my time in the UW Landscape Architecture Department. She encouraged me to build my MLA degree around my interest in landscape history when I wasn’t sure that such a path was possible. She demonstrated daily through her teaching and research the need to center history and historiography in the design process, highlighting with verve and style the continued relevance of key people, places, philosophies, and technologies. She created the space and opportunity for me to take risks, make discoveries, and engage broadly with the professional world. In short, Thaïsa has always exemplified the best qualities of a professor and a mentor, and I feel so very grateful to have studied with her."  -Betsy Anderson, NPS, - Landscape architect, MLA '14


Throughout her time at UW Thaïsa continually revealed her commitment to community building and service. In 2018, Thaïsa was elevated to American Society of Landscape Architecture (ASLA) Fellow, and has served as a member and chair of the jury for the ASLA professional awards, a design reviewer, history consultant, and collaborator for numerous projects, all with the intention to build stronger democratic and equitable practices to improve our public realm.

I am incredibly grateful for the confidence and generosity Thaïsa has shown in me as a mentor, advocate, and teacher. I am continuously in awe of her willingness and ability to share the spaces she creates. This model of leadership—stepping forward to advance what is considered landscape history and stepping back to allow others to thrive in that space—continues to inspire my career and will continue to bring positive change to both landscape practice and history.Sara Jacobs, UBC, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. '20“Drawing Pictures In Your Mind” drawing workshop at Olson Kundig with Alan Maskin, March 2017.Ryan Patterson

With a strong commitment to the public university, Thaïsa was an adjunct in the Department of Architecture at the CBE as well as in the Department of History in the College of Arts & Sciences and in the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. Thaïsa served as Chair of UW Faculty Senate, as well as Chair of the Senate Committee on Planning and Budget from 2016 to 2019. She led the project to curate the Faculty in 2050 report as well as to envision the Liberal Arts in the 21st century. Engaging with faculty, staff, and students across the university and the region, she sought to strengthen the role of the public university and higher education in the public realm and in the stewardship of our democracy.

Read entire article with photos here.

Thaïsa Way joined SAH in 2001.  She has been the head of the SAH Landscape History Chapter, and was Session Chair at the 2014 and 2019 Annual Conferences, and a speaker at the 2013 Annual Conference.  She has served on various committees including the MacDougal Book Award Committee and SAH Archipedia Classic Buildings landscapes, and Urban Settings and Settlements.  


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