After six years of service to The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, Michelle Addington will conclude her tenure as dean upon completion of the 2022-23 academic year.
Dean Addington became dean of the School of Architecture in July 2017. Educated as both an architect and an engineer, she brought a broad, interdisciplinary perspective to the school. During her tenure, she reimagined and improved the structure of the School of Architecture to more comprehensively support some of her key foci: interdisciplinary education, student support, and increased research output.
As an academic leader, Addington shepherded meaningful collaborations between academia and practice, hired and mentored award-winning educators, engaged the collective capabilities of faculty to create an inspiring educational environment, and reinforced the institution’s standing as one of the top-ranked architecture schools in the U.S.
Under her leadership, the school significantly expanded its Race and Gender in the Built Environment Initiative; and just last semester, the school announced two new endowments to help build a pipeline to bring new voices into the profession. For the past two years, the School of Architecture has also had one of the most diverse incoming undergraduate classes at the university.
A firm believer in the importance of addressing issues from the center rather than at the edges, Addington has been a staunch advocate for embedding efforts like diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as a focus on sustainability, into the core of how we think, teach, and talk about what we do. Additionally, she oversaw the school’s efforts to further integrate technology into its teaching and research, including the completion of the transformation of the West Mall Building into a state-of-the-art digital teaching space and the addition of several new advanced technologies to support such activities as remote scanning.
Dean Addington’s arrival to the school coincided with the launch of UT Austin’s What Starts Here capital campaign, an effort that has raised $20 million in gifts and pledges for the School of Architecture to date. Under her leadership, the school created 29 new permanent endowments and secured a transformational $5M gift in 2018 to support the school’s Urban Design Program. The school has also received more than $17M in grants and sponsored research in that time, which has helped to bring faculty knowledge and expertise to bear on projects from the local to the international.
Here in Austin, Addington has made an enormous impact in furthering the School of Architecture’s work with the city to help address some of the challenges we are facing locally. Recent research from the School of Architecture has included significant studies of Austin’s transportation, housing, and gentrification issues, an investigation of different planning scenarios for the Austin Convention Center, as well as the St. John’s Tract in North Austin, among much more.
Before coming to UT Austin, Addington served as the Gerald Hines Chair in Sustainable Architectural Design at the Yale University School of Architecture and was jointly appointed as a Professor at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Before teaching at Yale, she taught extensively at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and also held visiting positions at several universities worldwide.
Originally educated as a mechanical/nuclear engineer, Addington worked for several years as an engineer at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and for E.I. DuPont de Nemours before she studied architecture. Her teaching, research, and professional work span across these disciplines with the overarching objective of determining strategic interactions between physical phenomena and spatial, geo-political, economic, and cultural systems.
As an expert in sustainability, Addington will be shifting her focus to further research and work to address the urgency of climate change. She is staying on at the university to continue leading UT Austin’s Campus Sustainability Plan and to enhance the university’s connection to and relationship with the City of Austin.
As she reflected on her next steps in her letter to the School of Architecture community, Addington noted: “Many of you know of my deep commitment to sustainability, and the recent IPCC report has made it clear that we can’t wait any longer to take aggressive action. Fifty years of sustainability initiatives addressing the built environment have not stemmed the stunning worldwide rise of emissions and other impacts related to our fields. While I came to UT five years ago with expertise in energy conservation systems and behaviors, I have learned so much about the broader urban and regional domains, and the impacts and influences far afield. It is time for me to pull it all together and do what I do best.”