Free Event

A designer, urbanist, and social innovator, Liz is an expert on sustainable design and spatial innovation in challenged urban environments globally. She is founder and principal of Studio O, a multidisciplinary innovation practice that works within communities in need globally to use the power design to catalyze sustained social impact.


From designing shelters for immigrant day laborers in the U.S. to a water and health social enterprise for low-income Kenyans to leading a design workshop at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Liz has a long history of working on and advocating for issues of social and spatial justice. Her work blends empathy and human-centered research methodologies, creative engagement practices, architecture and equitable development principles, cross-disciplinary design thinking framework, and social and spatial justice agendas. Her clients have included the Oakland Museum of CaliforniaJacaranda HealthPiedmont Housing Alliance, and Pacific Gas & Electric. And her network of collaborators have been equally dynamic including the likes of HealthxDesignenvelope a+dIdeas + Action, and the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise (Cornell).

Liz has been actively involved in shaping two of the world’s pioneering public interest design nonprofits. In 2011, she was part of the inaugural class of Innovators-in-Residence at, IDEO’s sister nonprofit dedicated to fostering global poverty reduction through design and innovation. Prior to that, she was Design Director at Public Architecture, a national nonprofit mobilizing designers to improve communities through design.

In addition to her practice work, Liz has had a long commitment to bringing social impact work into the classroom where her courses and research explore opportunities at intersection of design, innovation, and community engagement. She previously taught at the California College of the Arts for several years, and in 2012, held an appointment as the inaugural Scholar in Residence at the school’s Center for Art and Public Life. She has also been on faculty at UC Berkeley and Stanford’s, and served as the Visiting Porter Chair in Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture during the Spring 2017 semester. Previously, she served as the Droga Architect-In-Residence in Australia, investigating urban marginalized populations and community development practices in the country.

Liz lectures often on issues of social and spatial justice. Previous appearances include TED WomenAspen Ideas Festival, and Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. She has also written for and been profiled in publications such as the New York TimesAtlantic’s City LabNext CityPlaces Journal, and the Journal of Urban Design. Her work has also been widely exhibited, including at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and Rotterdam Biennale. Among her honors include 2009 Holcim Global Innovation Prize, Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council, and YBCA 100.

Liz earned her Bachelor of Arts in architecture from Wellesley College and Master of Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.


This talk is sponsored by GSU’s Cencia (Center for Collaborative and International Arts), The Welch School of Art & Design, and the Museum of Design Atlanta. 

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