Leighton Beaman is an Assistant Professor in Architecture at the University of Virginia, School of Architecture, and a Design and Technology Critic at the Rhode Island School of Design.  

His research and writing focus on the history, discourse, and speculative future of technology in Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and its implications for design culture, environmental responsibility, and socially conscious design practices.

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

In addition to teaching, Beaman is a writer for Architectural Record focusing on design technologies and techno-centric design practices. He has contributed articles and chapters to a number of publications including, Traces & Trajectories, Innovations in Landscape Architecture, Cite, Int|AR and Issue. Leighton is also an associate editor for II Journal and is currently working on a design manual for housing in rural Kenya and Rwanda.

Leighton is also a Co-founding Principal at GA Collaborative, a design-oriented non-profit organization focused on the design and strategic implementation of culturally specific architecture, landscape, urban design and planning projects, as well as research and education. GA Collaborative currently has projects in Rwanda, Kenya, Nepal, and Nicaragua, as well as ongoing research projects in the US.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from North Carolina State University and a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Harvard University.


ZANETA HONG | Co-Director

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

Prior to her current appointment, Zaneta was a Lecturer in Landscape Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the 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 one of the winners for the American Institute of Graphic Arts Top 50 Books for 2015.

In addition, 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 Landscape Architecture & Digital Technologies, Innovations in Landscape Architecture, Living Systems: Innovative Materials & Technologies for Landscape Architecture, Material Design: Information Architecture by Materiality, Journal of Landscape Architecture, and Landscape Architecture Magazine.



From crafting new tools and materials to designing and building gigantic moving creatures, Melissa has an excitement for making at all scales. Her work combines an interest in exploiting material properties, hacking tools, and playing with robots, CNC routers, and 3D printers, and she teaches seminars on digital fabrication and design robotics. She joined UVA in 2011, and is in charge of the FabLab, including the Milton Air Field Hangar facility, and mentors a crew of TAs who teach a series of Shops Short Courses open to all in the University.

Her work connects her to other makers across Grounds, Charlottesville, and beyond, collaborating with multiple departments and professional fabricators. She is a co-founder of UVA's MakerGrounds, the network of shops, labs, and makerspaces open to the UVA community.  In 2012-2013, Melissa co-directed The Stan Winston Arts Festival of the Moving Creature at UVA, a yearlong interdisciplinary course that designed and built large puppeted creatures with Hollywood professionals, culminating in a parade and festival.  From that year, she helped to produce a short film, “The Creatures are Coming,” that debuted at the Virginia Film Festival.

Melissa has her Masters of Architecture degree from Columbia, where she was bit by the digital fabrication bug, and her BA in English from Harvard, where she immersed herself in theatrical set and puppet design.  When she is not running from the student zombies, she serves on the Executive Committee of the UVA Staff Senate, plays the cello, and officiates roller derby.