New Faculty Profile: Susan Ubbelohde

by Julia Sommer

Hard-hit by VERIP, the architecture department is particularly happy to welcome Susan Ubbelohde this year as associate professor.

What brought her to Berkeley, however, is not so happy: the demise of UCSD's School of Architecture after only one year. Joining Ubbelohde next year at Berkeley will be UCSD's former architecture dean, Adele Santos.

Before moving west, Ubbelohde was on the architecture faculty at the University of Minnesota from 1985-91, where she also directed the Regional Daylighting Center, which focuses on the use of natural instead of electric light.

After receiving her AB in Urban Studies from Oberlin, a BS in architecture from the University of Michigan, and a masters in architecture from the University of Oregon in 1981, Ubbelohde taught two years each at Tulane and Florida A&M. Her specialties became climate response, thermal design and analysis, lighting, and acoustics.

Ubbelohde originally got into the energy and lighting aspects of architecture at Oregon, when the only research money around was for solar energy. The Daylighting Center at Minnesota was founded and funded via a national price-fixing settlement against Exxon Corp.

What Ubbelohde works on is now called "sustainable architecture," where all resources--water, energy, and materials--are treated as finite.

"We look at how buildings affect the environment in every way," she explains. "Does creation and operation of the building degrade or maintain the environment?"

Ubbelohde is teaching two courses this semester: an upper- division studio class, "Case Studies in Architecture," and a graduate "Seminar in Architectural Design: The Dialectic of Poetics and Technology."

The 14 students in the case studies class have designed town halls for Half Moon Bay, Lodi, and Auburn, taking into account climate and town image.

With her architect-husband, Ubbelohde also keeps her hand in designing buildings--currently a winery in Greece. And they don't just do buildings--they hope to restore their 51-foot sailboat soon.

How does Ubbelohde rate her current digs in Wurster Hall? First, she notes that Berkeley is better than most institutions in conserving energy. In fact, Wurster's design took into consideration dealing wisely with climate. As for its aesthetics, she calls it a "snapshot in time," when heavy concrete was in style.


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