Wanda Dalla Costa will receive honorary doctoral degree

Wanda Dalla Costa

Constructive social, cultural impacts of Fulton Schools faculty member’s work earn high academic honor 

Wanda Dalla Costa’s rising stature as a groundbreaker in architecture, design and education is being further confirmed by an honorary doctoral degree she will receive from Athabasca University in Canada.

The university’s honorary degrees recognize those making extraordinary contributions to their professional fields and to society that constructively “transform lives and transform communities.”

Dalla Costa is an associate professor in the Del E. Webb School of Construction in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.  

Dalla Costa is also an Institute Professor in The Design School in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU, founder and design director of the Indigenous Design Collaborative and owner and principal of the Tawaw Architecture Collective. She is also a senior Global Futures Scientist in ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory.

A member of Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Alberta, Canada, Dalla Costa’s work focuses on increasing authentic representation of indigenous people and culture in architecture and design, especially in the urban areas where populations of indigenous people are growing.

Her projects involve collaborative design, indigenous place-keeping and climatic resiliency that bring the needs of indigenous communities into the design process. 

The aim of this work is for architecture and design to reflect the worldviews, identity, history and lived experiences of people in those communities.

“Wanda is a dedicated teacher, researcher, mentor and transformative thinker,” says Professor Paola Sanguinetti, director of The Design School. “Her expertise in community-driven design, indigenous methodologies, indigenous placekeeping and the vernacular intelligence of regional architectures, is invaluable.”

Dalla Costa “is preparing the next generations of designers to be agents for their communities,” Sanguinetti adds. “She is highly deserving of this recognition of the values she embodies through her work.” 

Dalla Costa’s work stems from “an idea of architecture that aims to grow from the multiple layers and scales of the territory, the native ecological landscapes, places, and people along with their environmental and technical knowledge; building on narrative as well as structure, weaving the territory and human production, community experience, existence, and being with the craft of architecture to provide livable spaces for the coexistence of communities and the natural ecosystem, the human and non-human habitat,” says Claudio Vekstein, a professor of architecture and program head for The Design School.

“We are incredibly honored to have Wanda bringing an unwavering commitment and passionate drive to address these critical issues here at ASU,” Vekstein says.

Dalla Costa will receive the doctoral degree at Athabasca University’s June 16 convocation ceremony.

“I will accept this honor on behalf of all the designers and design researchers at the Indigenous Design Collaborative and Tawaw Architecture Collective, who make this work possible through their continued dedication to our mission to make architecture more inclusive and authentic,” Dalla Costa says.