Lisa Moffitt

Associate Professor, Chair, MArch Program

Dr. Lisa Moffitt’s design, research and teaching are prompted by a deep compulsion to make things – paintings, photographs, buildings, installations, speculative design projects, physical models, and environmental instruments – that question how architecture materially alters, impacts, and constructs new environments in light of climate change. Lisa founded her design practice, Studio Moffitt, in 2008 after working as Senior Designer at PLANT Architect, Inc. in Toronto. She was most recently a tenured academic at the University of Edinburgh, where she also completed a PhD architecture by design exploring the use of physical environmental models as architectural design tools. She has published widely on this topic, including in Landscape Research, Technology | Architecture + Design, Architectural Research Quarterly, and Architecture and Culture. She is currently completing a book titled Architecture’s Model Environments as part of UCL Press’s Design Research in Architecture series. Lisa was Washington University’s Fitzgibbon Scholar; RISD’s AIA Henry Adams Gold Medal Recipient; and received the University of Edinburgh’s David Willis prize for doctoral research.


PhD (Architecture by Design) – University of Edinburgh

MArch – Rhode Island School of Design, summa cum laude

BA (Architecture) – Washington University in St. Louis, summa cum laude


ARCS 5105 – MArch – Graduate Studio 1 (Gateway)

ARCH 5002 – MArch – Architecture Seminar 2 (Miniaturising the Gigantic)

Arcn5302/Arcs6002w-PhD and MArch- Daedelic Exercises II

Arcs4107- BAS Design – Studio 7


Lisa was an intern architect at Studio E Architects in San Diego, California, where she worked on a number of award-winning affordable housing design projects. She was formerly a Senior Designer at PLANT Architect, Inc., where she worked on a number of hybrid architecture / landscape architecture projects including the national and international award-winning projects Dublin Grounds of Remembrance and Toronto City Hall Revitalisation Project. In 2008, Lisa founded Studio Moffitt, a design practice with a portfolio of speculative and built work. From 2009-2010, she lived in Huron County, Ontario to oversee construction of an off-grid, design-build project, the House on Limekiln Line. The house was featured as an OAA sustainability exemplar and has been exhibited and published widely, including in several books and in Dwell Magazine. 


What methods enable architectural designers to meaningfully engage with environmental processes across scales in light of climate breakdown? Lisa’s research grapples with this question by focusing on the technical, cultural, and design potentials of architectural environmental models. Using digital and physical modelling techniques, she designs and constructs devices conventionally used for engineering experimentation–wind tunnels, water tables, and filling boxes–to visualising airflow associated with natural ventilation. These environmental models enable speculation about environmental processes that traverse many scales, from the seam to the body to the building to the world. She writes about historical environmental models, using them as lenses for understanding the origins of contemporary concerns related to thermal comfort, building climate control, and flow visualisation. She also speculates about a wider range of techniques, borrowing from the sciences, literature, and philosophy, for designing models (as mental ideals) of architecture in light of climate breakdown.  

Architecture’s Model Environments, UCL Press Design Research in Architecture series, forthcoming 2023. 

“Wind Grid”, Journal of Landscape Architecture, 2021, 16:2, 54-60.

“Victor and Aladar Olgyay’s Thermoheliodon: Controlling Climate to Reduce Climate Control,” Architectural Research Quarterly, 23:3, December 2019, 255-266

“Materialising Convection,” Architecture and Culture, 7:1, August 2019, 1-14.

“From Instrument to Architecture: Environmental Models as Architectural Design Tools,” Technology | Architecture + Design (TAD) Journal, 2:2, Nov. 2018, 229-239.

“Sand, Silt, Salt, Water: Entropy as a Lens for Design in Postindustrial Landscapes,” Landscape Research, vol 42, issue 7, 2017, pp. 769-781.