University of Virginia: School of Architecture

Kim Tanzer

Professor of Architecture
Kim Tanzer
Discipline Architecture
Education BA, Duke University; M.Arch. North Carolina State University
Office 128 Campbell Hall

Personal Statement

Kim Tanzer FAIA serves as a professor of architecture at the University of Virginia, following her five-year term as the Dean and Edward E. Elson Professor at the School of Architecture which ended in June 2014. Prior to beginning her tenure at the University of Virginia in 2009 she served as a professor of architecture at the University of Florida for more than two decades. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Duke University and her Master of Architecture from North Carolina State University.  She was elected to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows in 2011, and named a Distinguished Professor of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) in 2014.


As dean at the University of Virginia, Tanzer worked to enhance the School’s design research culture. With faculty she developed School-wide interdisciplinary research themes, which she describes as “six ways to sustainability.”  Three of these themes have been formalized as research centers, the Center for Design and Health, the Community Design and Research Center, and the Center for Cultural Landscapes.  To further develop the School’s research culture she led the effort to create an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in the Constructed Environment, approved in May 2013.  She raised funds to endow the DeShong Professorship in Design and Health, the School’s first fully funded professorship, and the Victor and Sono Elmaleh Fellowship, to support the School’s Ph.D. students.  At the undergraduate level, during her tenure the School developed and hosted the University’s first multi-School minor, in Global Sustainability.  She launched a semester-long program in Venice, and a summer program in India, while supporting ongoing international efforts in China, Africa, and the Caribbean.  Throughout her tenure she championed an interdisciplinary design thinking curriculum, which she characterizes as a “Curriculum in Practical Imagination.”


Much of Professor Tanzer’s teaching and research focuses on the relationship between the human body and large shared spaces such as the city and the landscape, with an emphasis on creating sustainable environments. She has worked extensively with Gainesville, Florida’s Fifth Avenue/Pleasant Street historically African-American neighborhood. In part to further this work she was co-founder and founding Executive Director of the Florida Community Design Center, Inc. in 2001 and remained on the Board of Directors until 2008.  She is co-editor of The Green Braid:  Towards an Architecture of Ecology, Economy, and Equity, and the Journal of Architectural Education’s special issue on sustainability, and author of the A-School Monograph After the Deluge:  Reimagining Leonardo’s Legacy, along with many scholarly and popular articles.  She is currently on leave from the University of Virginia, and working on the design of a neighborhood-scale 21st century integrated infrastructure project, and a series of drawings connecting digital and analog maps and drawings of local watersheds.

She has served as president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, founding president of the National Academy of Environmental Design, Chair of the Faculty Senate at the University of Florida and consequently as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.