Dan Abramson

Dan Abramson

Associate Professor, Urban Design & Planning; Adjunct Associate Professor, Architecture; Adjunct Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture

Dan Abramson approaches the discipline of planning through urban design, historic preservation and planning history, methods of socio-spatial analysis and public participation, and qualitative study of the politics and cultures of development decision-making. His experience in community-engaged planning, research, and design – mostly with immigrant, low-income, indigenous, or otherwise marginalized communities – ranges from Boston to the American and Canadian Pacific Northwest, and from Poland to China and Japan.


Currently Abramson focuses on community resilience and adaptive planning in disaster recovery and hazard mitigation, as well as periurban and rural responses to rapid urbanization. Students at all levels of undergraduate and graduate education join his work, through course projects, community-engaged studios as well as thesis and dissertation research. Projects in Asia have included six China Village Studios with academic partners from Chengdu and Taiwan; a six-month Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship in recovery planning after the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake in Sichuan; and a collaboration with Kobe University to use participatory GIS for urban neighborhood earthquake recovery. Projects in Washington integrate studios with FEMA- and NSF-funded research on new protocols for state agencies and communities to envision earthquake- and tsunami-resilient development.


Beside his appointment in Urban Design & Planning at UW, he is adjunct in the Departments of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and a member of the China Studies and Canadian Studies faculty. Before teaching at UW, he held a Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Human Settlements, where he initiated the first Ford Foundation-funded urban community-based planning project in China, in Quanzhou, Fujian. His degrees include a B.A. in History from Harvard University; dual masters in Architecture and City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and a doctorate in Urban Planning from Tsinghua University in Beijing. (He was the first American to earn a degree in urban planning from a Chinese university, and possibly the first American to earn any mainland Chinese graduate-level degree.) In 2005-2009, he served as Secretary on the founding Board of the International Association for China Planning (IACP) and remains an active member. He have also served on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Planning Association and am currently an editorial board member for Planning Perspectives.