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Luciana Varkulja
Senior Lecturer
Teaches In
Environmental Design

M.Arch, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
B.Arch, School of Architecture and Urban Design, FAU-USP, University of São Paulo


Luciana Varkulja is an architect and urban designer with 20 years of experience, who has been working on projects in the US and internationally (Latin America, Africa, and Asia) under her practice uma architecture & design, founded in 2002, and as a collaborator. In more recent work, Luciana is looking into how architects and designers can learn from food systems and forestry management practices, to engage in a more sustainable approach during the design process through a responsible choice of materials, labor conditions, and deeper knowledge of the supply chain. 

Ms. Varkulja had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of project types and scales, from furniture design, brand identity, and environmental design - keeping a straight connection with the art world through set design, exhibitions, installations, and films - to institutional buildings, transportation, and urban planning. She had worked on projects from schematic design through completion, always wearing multiple hats during that process, from designer role to project management support, coordinating the process internally to the office as well as with clients and consultants. Luciana has taught and is currently a visiting juror at Columbia University and at Cal Poly Pomona. She is an Adjunct Professor at USC School of Architecture and a Senior Lecturer at the Environmental Design Department at Otis College of Art and Design, where she teaches Design Studio.

  • Columbia University GSAPP. Incubator Prize, with the research Re-Forest: Searching Beyond the Material Catalog (2021-2022)
  • AIA Housing Award. University of California, Santa Barbara, San Joaquin Apartments. Design Team: SOM LA (2019)
  • AIA LA Chapter. Honor Award: University of California, Santa Barbara, San Joaquin Apartments. Design Team: SOM LA (2019)
  • AIA LA Chapter COTE. Merit Award: University of California, Santa Barbara, San Joaquin Apartments. Design Team: SOM LA (2019)
  • AIA Portland Chapter Awards, Award for Design Excellence (2015). PNCA. Design Team: Allied Works Architecture
  • NYCity Design Commission, Award for Design Excellence (2013). Steeplechase Pier. Design Team: LTL Architects
  • Columbia University GSAPP, William Kinne Traveling Fellowship Prize (2012)
  • AIA DC Chapter Awards, Award for Design Excellence (2010). Union Station Bicycle Transit Center. Design Team: KGP Design Studio
  • Design Within Reach, 1stPrize, Design Competition Paulistano Uncovered, Washington, DC (2009)
  • Lampadia Foundation, Fellowship, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2005 / 2006)
  • Biennial Foundation, Honorable Mention, Poster Design, 25th International Biennial of São Paulo (2001)
  • CNPQ Capes, Scientific Initiation Scholarship - Brazilian Ministry of Education, University of São Paulo (1997 / 1998)
  • XV World Forestry Congress FAO/ United Nations (Spring 2022). ‘Learning from Chefs: an Architectural Manifesto’. Seoul, South Korea
  • Paprika (Spring 2022). ‘Remote Closeups, Scene 1‘. Reading the Room. Yale School of Architecture. Cambridge, MA
  • Empena (Spring 2022). ‘Threshold: Documenting the Informality in Times of COVID’. Escola da Cidade. São Paulo, Brazil
  • PLOT (Spring 2019). ‘Learning from Chefs: an Architectural Manifesto’. COOKBOOK. New York City, NY
  • Arquitectura Viva (Fall 2016). ‘Ina’. Installation in Portland, OR. By Silvia Perea. Madrid, Spain
  • Deste Foundation (Spring 2012). Collecting Architecture publication and exhibition at the DESTE Foundation. Athens, Greece
  • Abstract Columbia University (Fall 2012). GSAPP Columbia University. New York City, NY
Clients/Employment History:  
  • uma architecture & design, Founder and Principal. São Paulo and Los Angeles. Since 2002 
  • AECOM, Los Angeles CA, Senior Designer, 2018 
  • SOM, Los Angeles CA, Senior Designer, 2017
  • Allied Works Architecture, Portland OR, Project Architect / Designer, 2013-2016
  • LTL Architects, NYC, Contract Project Architect, 2013
  • KGP Design Studio, Washington, DC, Project Architect, 2006-2010
  • National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Designer, 2005