Elizabeth Umbanhowar, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP is a registered landscape architect in Washington state and an instructor at the University of Washington. She practices with Parametrix, an environmental engineering and transportation planning firm with offices in the Puget Sound, Oregon, Idaho, and New Mexico. In her practice work, Elizabeth focuses on large-scale public infrastructure, nonmotorized transportation, urban design, public involvement and habitat restoration.
In fall 2015, Elizabeth was invited to be a visiting faculty at the University of British Columbia, where she taught courses in history of landscape architecture and a graduate design studio focused on False Creek Flats, a complex 450-acre brownfield in the heart of Vancouver BC. The site retains active rail, transit, light and heavy industry, as well as parks, community gardens, a burgeoning arts and technology economy, and the promise of additional green business and infrastructure. Students focused on soils as the basis for developing small-scale and replicable site interventions to address larger issues of transportation, community and ecological connectivity, waste cycling and design resiliency.
Prior to completing her Masters in Landscape Architecture, Elizabeth served as the Executive Director of the Kirkland Arts Center and as Director of Fund Development for the Wing Luke Asian Museum. She continues to focus on public art and community advocacy in her practice, volunteer and creative work. Her most recent public art work, Evaporative Fault (2014) a 10-day temporary installation was developed in collaboration with her brother, John Umbanhowar, a Los Angeles architect, and presented through the Lerata Skyline event. Evaporative Fault investigated the processes of erosion and accretion at the interface of landscape, architecture and urban environment by creating a large-scale “hour glass” in the lobby of the historic Los Angeles Case Hotel using 15,000 pounds of salt, Plexiglas and blue theatre lighting.
Elizabeth has co-published in Landscape Architecture Magazine on cultural landscapes, innovation in design thinking, and design pedagogy and healing landscapes. She has taught both graduate and undergraduate studio and lecture courses, including L300 Introduction to Landscape Architecture Design Studio, L302 Urban Sites Studio, L402 Neighborhood Design Studio, L498/ART234 Public Art, Public Space, and the L552 and L553 History of Landscape Architecture series.
Research interests include: the history of urban form and specifically how transportation systems have shaped and misshaped cities; designing for movement in landscapes—walking, running, hiking—to promote individual health, place attachment, and social healing and awareness; the value of mentorship in developing new and diverse landscape practitioners; the use of film as research and teaching tool in landscape architecture; and the role of art in expressing the relationship of time and the body to city form, architecture, and landscape.