Leighton is a designer, researcher, and educator. His work focuses on both speculative and eminent futures for the built environment through an examination and exploration of the technological and material discourses and practices of design

He is currently an Associate Editor for ii Journal and a contributing writer for Architectural Record. He has written articles and chapters focusing on design technologies and techno-centric design practices to a number of publications including Traces & Trajectories, Innovations in Landscape Architecture, Cite, Int|AR and Issue.

In 2008 Leighton founded Beta-field a is a multi-modal, research-focused design studio that takes a speculative approach to the built environment. From building, landscapes, and installations to books, exhibitions, and objects, Beta-field provides a framework to explore alternative forms of practices. Beta-field projects have been exhibited at a number of venues, including Harvard University, Strathmore Arts Center, AIA Headquarters, Boston Society of Architects, University of Cincinnati, University of Texas, and the Chase Arts Center.

In addition to his research and teaching, Leighton is also a Co-Founding Principal at GA Collaborative, a design-oriented non-profit organization focused on the research, design and strategic implementation of culturally specific architecture, landscape, urban design and planning projects. GA Collaborative currently has projects in Rwanda, Kenya, Nepal, and Nicaragua, as well as ongoing research projects in the U.S.

Leighton has been named a MacDowell Fellow, American Institute of Architects Emerging Practitioner, and a University of Virginia Teaching Fellow in Architecture. Prior to his current appointments at the University of Virginia and Rhode Island School of Design, Leighton has taught at the University of Texas in Austin, Harvard University, North Carolina State University, Northeastern University, and the Kigali Institute of Science & Technology.

Leighton received a Bachelor Degree in Architecture and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design from North Carolina State University, and a Master in Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.


ZANETA HONG | Co-Director

Zaneta Hong is an Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia, where she teaches courses in material ecologies-technologies and information-based digital practices.

Prior to her current appointment, Zaneta was a Lecturer in Landscape Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Lead Faculty in Landscape Architecture for the Harvard Career Discovery Program, and the 2013-14 recipient of the Daniel Urban Kiley Teaching Fellowship. During her years at Harvard, Zaneta was awarded the Certificate of Teaching Excellence by the Derek Bok Center for Teaching & Learning for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 and was the Editor for Platform 8: An Index of Design & Research. Published and exhibited in 2015-16, Platform 8 was awarded the American Institute of Graphic Arts Top 50 Books for 2015.

In addition to her teaching, Zaneta has worked with a number of academic material collections including the Harvard GSD Materials Collection as a materials researcher, and the University of Texas in Austin Materials Lab as the Materials Lab Curator, where during her time, she initiated, designed and developed the online materials database along with the Advanced Materials Research Lab and Gallery.

Her research has appeared in numerous publications including Innovations in Landscape Architecture, Living Systems: Innovative Materials & Technologies for Landscape Architecture, Journal of Landscape Architecture and Landscape Architecture Magazine.



Melissa is the Co-Founder of the University of Virginia’s MakerGrounds, a network of university shops, labs, and makerspaces; and she is the School of Architecture Fabrication Facilities Manager for the FabLab and Milton Airfield Hangar facility. Melissa’s work connects her to other makers across the university, Charlottesville, and beyond, collaborating with multiple departments and professional fabricators.

Melissa has her Masters of Architecture from Columbia University, where she was bit by the digital fabrication bug, and her Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard University, where she immersed herself in theatrical set and puppet design.