Liz Ogbu
A designer, urbanist, and social innovator, Liz is an expert on sustainable design and spatial innovation in challenged urban environments globally. She is founder and principal of Studio O, a multidisciplinary innovation practice that works within communities in need globally to use the power design to catalyze sustained social impact.

From designing shelters for immigrant day laborers in the U.S. to a water and health social enterprise for low-income Kenyans to leading a design workshop at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Liz has a long history of working on and advocating for issues of social and spatial justice. Her work blends empathy and human-centered research methodologies, creative engagement practices, architecture and equitable development principles, cross-disciplinary design thinking framework, and social and spatial justice agendas. Her clients have included the Oakland Museum of California, Jacaranda Health, Piedmont Housing Alliance, and Pacific Gas & Electric. And her network of collaborators have been equally dynamic including the likes of HealthxDesign, envelope a+d, Ideas + Action, and the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise (Cornell).

Liz has been actively involved in shaping two of the world’s pioneering public interest design nonprofits. In 2011, she was part of the inaugural class of Innovators-in-Residence at IDEO.org, IDEO’s sister nonprofit dedicated to fostering global poverty reduction through design and innovation. Prior to that, she was Design Director at Public Architecture, a national nonprofit mobilizing designers to improve communities through design.

In addition to her practice work, Liz has had a long commitment to bringing social impact work into the classroom where her courses and research explore opportunities at intersection of design, innovation, and community engagement. She previously taught at the California College of the Arts for several years, and in 2012, held an appointment as the inaugural Scholar in Residence at the school’s Center for Art and Public Life. She has also been on faculty at UC Berkeley and Stanford’s d.school, and served as the Visiting Porter Chair in Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture during the Spring 2017 semester. Previously, she served as the Droga Architect-In-Residence in Australia, investigating urban marginalized populations and community development practices in the country.

Liz lectures often on issues of social and spatial justice. Previous appearances include TED Women, Aspen Ideas Festival, and Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. She has also written for and been profiled in publications such as the Atlantic’s City Lab, Next City, Places Journal, and the Journal of Urban Design. Her work has also been widely exhibited, including at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and Rotterdam Biennale. Among her honors include 2009 Holcim Global Innovation Prize, Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council, and YBCA 100.

Liz earned her Bachelor of Arts in architecture from Wellesley College and Master of Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.

Select Press

Using Our Words: The Language of Design for Equity | In Impact Design Hub, March 2015

How an Audio Booth Changed the Conversation Around a Major S.F. Redevelopment Project | In CityLab, February 2015

Watch Liz Ogbu’s TED Talk | On Impact Design Hub, October 2013

Meet Our Vanguard: Liz Ogbu | In Next City, October 2012

IDEO.org Fellows Bring Beautiful Design to Humanitarian Efforts | In GOOD, November 2011

A Blueprint for Good | In Boston Globe, August 2010

 

Select Honors

Public Interest Design Top 100 | PublicInterestDesign.org, 2013

Innovation Grant | Autodesk, 2012

Design Vanguard | Next City, 2012

Senior Fellow | Design Futures Council, 2o11

Global Innovation Award (Day Labor Station) | Holcim Foundation, 2009

Research Fund Grant | US Green Building Council, 2008