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Interim Associate Dean for Faculty

Sharon Wohl PhD

FRK Faculty Fellow, Architecture
Associate Professor, Urban Design
Undergraduate Coordinator, Architecture

Mailing Address

Dean's Office
134 College of Design
Ames, IA, 50011

Contact Information

Phone: (515) 294-8913
Office: 485 Design


PhD, Spatial Planning and Strategy, 2018 TU Delft 
Master of Architecture, 1995 University of Manitoba
Bachelor of Environmental Design, 1988 University of Manitoba
Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Manitoba
- semester in sustainable urbanism (1994)
Ecole D’Architecture et D’Urbanism, Paris, Belleville
- semester with Henri Ciriani (1991)

Supporting Files

Research Interests

Dr. Wohl's research examines the relationship between Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) theory and Urban Design, trying to discover how CAS can provide new tools to both analyze and channel the forces of urban change. Over the last few decades, research in the sciences has opened up new ways of analyzing systems: unraveling their dynamics through the lens of complexity theory. Here, bottom-up agents respond to non-linear inputs in responsive, adaptive, and resilient ways to produce fit, emergent, global patterns. Cities are complex entities that are subject to an array of constantly shifting forces and designers need to understand how best to respond to these uncertainties in responsive and resilient ways. Sharon's research aims to determine how best to design cities and architecture in ways that unleash emergent capacities. 

Key Words:

Morphogenesis, Affordance, Emergence, Self-Organization, New Materialism

Current Projects

Sharon completed her doctorate in 2018 through the Urbanism program at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands (Spatial Planning and Strategy). Her dissertation focused on Complex Adaptive Systems, morphogenesis, and Urbanism. Sharon holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the University of Manitoba, where she taught in both urban planning and architecture. Prior to joining Iowa State, she worked as a lead designer and project coordinator at 5468796 Architecture, an internationally recognized Winnipeg-based practice. In addition to practice and teaching, Sharon has been actively involved in Design advocacy through StorefrontMb, most recently co-organizing/curating "Cool Gardens", an international competition and landscape Garden exhibition, and  “Table for 1200”, a flash mob dinner party themed around the relevance of design.  She recently co-edited the book, "ReImagining Winnipeg", a  publication that documents an ideas competition, organized by StorefrontMB in 2013. She teaches foundation courses in Architecture, and the Urban Design program