PhD, History and Theory of Architecture, University of Pennslyvania; MArch, University of Michigan Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning; AB, Architectural Studies and Studio Art, Brown University.
Assistant Professor Erin Putalik joined the UVA School of Architecture in 2020 and taught across the departments of architecture and architectural history. In 2022, she joined the Department of Landscape Architecture as tenure-track faculty. She has held prior teaching appointments at Rhode Island School of Design, Ithaca College, and Virginia Tech, and was a project designer at Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. Erin is a registered architect and holds a PhD in History and Theory of Design. Her dissertation examined the emergence of plywood and engineered wood in the context of ongoing fears of a nationwide timber famine in the United States in the 1920s.
Erin’s current research examines three themes: 1) Forests + trees, resource limits, and environmental imaginaries 2) Toxicity, risk, and material obsolescence, and 3) Coastal resilience and historically informed coastal design. Across all three areas, her work investigates recent shifts in material, cultural and environmental history, while also engaging the intersections of history/theory research and design practice. Her recent research projects include, in part, a collaborative 4-VA Consortium research partnership with James Madison University and Virginia Tech that develops novel material pathways for pest-killed trees with educational outcomes and community outreach; a 3Cavaliers-funded project titled “Imaging the Invisible: Translations of Environmental Risk into Public Information”; a 3-year project supported by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to develop nature-based solutions for three national parks along the Virginia coast that are threatened by sea level rise; and the development of a ‘Bay Migrations” Co-lab through UVA’s Environmental Resilience Institute.
Erin’s most recent publications include the co-authored essay “A Melt-Blown Moment: Pandemics, Wildfires, and the New Exactitude of the Architectural Filter,” published in the Journal of Architectural Education (March 2022), “Urban Lumber: Timelines of street trees” featured in the “Tree” issue of Architectural Review (October 2021), and “Pure Trash: New woods and old claims in architectural materiality” included in a special issue of Architectural Theory Review (Fall 2021) titled “Timber Constructed.”
Describing her approach to teaching, Erin describes herself as “a research-driven and design-allied historian” who is “committed to helping our fields be more articulate about how we generate knowledge.” In her teaching role she is committed to support students in “synthesizing core ideas and values from Landscape Architecture that are characterized by an inquiry-driven design process, with careful attention to site and context, strong integration of history/theory and design, and a well-developed sense of responsibility to people and place.” She is an ongoing partner with and faculty mentor for UVA Sawmilling and has supported many student researchers across various funded projects.