Michelle Addington steps down as dean of the UT Austin School of Architecture

The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture (UTSOA) announced that Michelle Addington, an architect and mechanical/nuclear engineer who has served as the school’s dean since 2017, will complete her tenure upon completion of the 2022-2023 academic year becomes .

Before joining UT Austin, Addington was the Gerald Hines Chair in Sustainable Architectural Design at the Yale University School of Architecture and was jointly appointed Professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Previously, she taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and was a guest lecturer at various universities in Germany and abroad, including the Technical University of Munich and Temple University in Philadelphia, where she received her Bachelor of Architecture. Addington also holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Tulane University, a Masters in Design Studies and a PhD in Design from Harvard, and an honorary MA from Yale.

Addington, who, according to UT Austin’s announcement, brought a “broad, interdisciplinary perspective to the school” thanks to her diverse educational and professional background, is also a well-known expert on sustainability; this deep expertise, especially her research and work on combating climate change, will be her main focus after the end of her deanship. To that end, Addington will maintain a presence at the university and continue to lead UT Austin’s campus sustainability plan.

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Addington was one of several architects recently spoken to A Contributor Bill Millard for a feature article on how the profession works needs stand up in the fight against climate change and face the challenge. Addington referenced this article in a letter to the UTSOA community discussing her decision to step down from the Deanship to shift focus to the urgency of the climate crisis.

“Many of you are aware of my deep commitment to sustainability, and the recent IPCC report has made it clear that we cannot wait any longer to take aggressive action,” Addington wrote in her letter. “Fifty years of sustainability initiatives addressing the built environment have failed to stem the staggering global increase in emissions and other impacts related to our fields. While joining UT five years ago with expertise in energy saving systems and behaviors, I have learned so much about the broader urban and regional realms and the far off impacts and influences. It’s time for me to pull it all together and do what I do best.”

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Addington’s departure from her role as dean is reminiscent of Amale Andraos, former dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, who announced in May 2021 that she would be stepping down from her role to focus on climate-related issues as an advisor to the Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger focusing on the Columbia Climate School.

Shifting gears to further differentiate itself in the climate space, Addington is leaving a transformative legacy at UTSOA in the role of Dean. As the university noted, Addington has “encouraged meaningful collaborations between academia and practice, hired and mentored award-winning educators, leveraged the collective capabilities of the faculty to create an inspiring educational environment, and strengthened the institution’s reputation as one of the highest-ranking architectural schools in the world USA” Among her myriad achievements are the expansion of the school’s “Race and Gender in the Built Environment” initiative and the recent establishment of two new endowments to nurture new and more diverse voices in architecture. The university described Addington as an academic leader who “strongly believes in the importance of tackling problems from the center rather than the edges” and “a staunch advocate of embedding efforts such as diversity, equity and inclusion.” a focus on sustainability, at the core of how we think, teach and speak about what we do.”

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During her tenure, Addington also oversaw the completion of UT Austin’s West Mall Building into a digital classroom and helped position the university as a leading research center focused on solving pressing problems in the fast-growing Texas capital, including housing and transportation, gentrification and more.

A looks forward to following Addington’s next chapter as a key force at the intersection of the built environment and climate action. We will also report when a new Dean of UTSOA is announced.

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