Courtney Crosson

Associate Professor of Architecture
Director, The Drachman Institute
MS.Arch Faculty Advisor, Urban Design Concentration


  • Architecture
  • Master of Architecture
  • Master of Science in Architecture
  • School of Architecture
Courtney Crosson


Areas of Expertise

  • Decentralized water and energy systems
  • Net zero, net positive and sustainable resource design and evaluation
  • Urban design
  • Urban infrastructure modeling and optimization


  • Master of Architecture, Yale University
  • BA in Art History, Duke University


Courtney Crosson is a licensed architect and associate professor at the University of Arizona, where she teaches classes on water in the built environment and community outreach studios. These studios, funded by the city, county or private practice, tackle critical issues in urban sustainability. Through exhibitions, books, presentations, workshops and even board games, the design work seeks to go beyond the studio and engage citizens and governments in solutions for their cities. Several of the designs produced in her studios have received public funding to be constructed.

Her current research advances decentralized water systems to address pressing problems facing cities—whether water scarcity in the U.S. Southwest or safe and affordable water access in informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals in architecture, engineering and planning.

She has won numerous awards for her teaching, outreach and research. Most notably, she received the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) national President’s Award for Educational and Environmental Collaboration and Excellence in 2017 and the Association for Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) / American Institute of Architects (AIA) national Practice and Leadership Award in 2018. She is currently serving an elected three-year term on the national board of the ACSA as a director at-large. She served on the AIA Los Angeles Board from 2013-2015. Crosson holds a Master of Architecture from Yale University and an Art History BA from Duke University.

Crosson’s work outside academia spans many scales and locations including Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. She has worked for BuroHappold Engineers in Los Angeles, Foster + Partners in Hong Kong, Muf Architecture/Art in London, Multiplicity in Milan and UN Habitat in a Nairobi informal settlement called Kibera. At BuroHappold she was the sustainability consultant for the net zero energy design of the new Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Atelier Peter Zumthor), University of California Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency (Kieran Timberlake Architects) and the net zero water and energy design of the new Santa Monica City Hall extension (Frederick Fisher Architects). At the master plan scale, she has guided energy and water reduction frameworks at Rice University, Los Angeles Union Station and University of California San Diego. Crosson’s first net zero design has been in operation since 2009; a seven-acre secondary girls boarding school in Muhuru Bay, Kenya, for which she was the project manager and lead designer.


  • ARC 451/510F Community Outreach Studios
  • ARC 461A/561A Water Efficiency in the Built Environment
  • ARC 497/597 Sustainable Urban Design

Selected Recent Publications

  • Crosson, Courtney. “Answering the Supply-Demand Gap with Alternative Water Sources: Retrofitting Cities to Achieve Net Zero Urban Water.” Landscape Journal. (2020) Accepted.
  • Tong, Daoqin, Courtney Crosson, Qing Zhong, and Yinan Zhang. "Optimize urban food production to address food deserts in regions with restricted water access." Landscape and Urban Planning. 202 (2020): 103859.
  • Crosson, Courtney and Kepha Ngito. “Informal Water Service Providers: Water Access and Quality in Kibera Informal Settlement in Nairobi.” The Unexamined: Critical Inquiries on Architecture and Place. Ed. Susannah Dickinson, Aletheia Ida, Jonathan Bean.  Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2020. 
  • Crosson, Courtney. "Innovating the Urban Water System: Achieving a Net Zero Water Future Beyond Current Regulation." Technology | Architecture+ Design. Vol 2, no. 1 (2018): 68-81.
  • Crosson, Courtney. "Shades of Green: Modifying Sustainability Rating Systems for Transit Center Functionality." Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 2638 (2017): 88-96


International and National

  • ACSA/AIA Practice + Leadership Award (blind peer reviewed) | Association for Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and American Institute of Architects (AIA) - 2018
    National award to recognize highly effective teaching, scholarship, and outreach
  • AESS President’s Award | Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) | President’s Award for Educational and Environmental Collaboration and Excellence - 2017

State and Community

  • AIA Community Education Award (blind peer reviewed) | American Institute of Architects (AIA) | Arizona State Chapter - 2019
  • AIA Community Design Award (blind peer reviewed) } American Institute of Architects (AIA) | Arizona State Chapter - 2019
  • Dobras Award | Dean’s Award | UA College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture - 2018
    Annual Dean’s award given in recognition of outstanding service to the community
  • AIA Urban and Regional Planning State Design Award, citation (blind peer reviewed) | American Institute of Architects (AIA) | Arizona State Chapter | 2017
  • Crescordia Award | Arizona Forward | Environmental Excellence Awards | Environmental Educator Excellence State Award (first place) (blind reviewed) - 2017
  • Common Ground Award | Finalist | Metropolitan Pima Alliance - 2017
    Recognizes outstanding collaboration in the community (blind reviewed)
  • AIA Pedagogy Award | American Institute of Architects| Arizona State Chapter | Design Pedagogy State Award (blind peer reviewed) - 2016

News, Research and Projects

Drachman Institute relaunch event

Drachman Institute Relaunches with Showcase Event and Appointment of Director Courtney Crosson

Assistant Professor of Architecture Courtney Crosson has been appointed director of the University of Arizona’s Drachman Institute by CAPLA Dean Nancy Pollock-Ellwand. Crosson's introduction was combined with a project showcase on April 13 in a "relaunch" of this important, community-focused institute.