At A Glance

According to B.D. Wortham-Galvin, half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and by 2050, that figure will rise to two-thirds. She has dedicated her career to finding proactive solutions to the particular problems posed by humanity’s migration to urban living. Her work is more relevant than ever in the face of COVID-19 when cities’ and spaces’ design can have life-or-death implications.

Wortham-Galvin works with local and national communities on equity and resilience in managing change in rural, suburban and urban places, emphasizing cultural sustainability and designing cities of the future through an inclusionary process.


Wortham-Galvin believes architecture is about people, not buildings. She has spent her distinguished career addressing the complexities and promises of urban design and how it can relate to people and places left out of the traditional design and development decisions.

Wortham-Galvin’s research confronts the challenges created by humanity’s migration into cities. Climate change, for instance, has made the use, containment and placement of water particularly critical. Also, equity issues affect everything from access to housing, schools, parks, libraries, safe streets, and more.

Her work on sustainability and stewardship has taken on even greater import in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent national unrest. She works with local and national communities on issues of equity and resilience in managing change in rural, suburban and urban places, emphasizing cultural sustainability and designing cities of the future through an inclusionary process.

As director of Resilient Urban Design, a graduate program in the School of Architecture located at the Clemson Design Center in Charleston, Wortham-Galvin prepares her students to be leaders in addressing the complexities of growing metropolitan regions.

For her work, the Daily Journal of Commerce named her one of Oregon’s Women of Vision for 2015. She received the 2009 Outstanding Project of the Year Award from the Chesapeake County Heritage Area Program for work on Maryland’s Eastern Shore with her former nonprofit Urban Dialogues.

As a member of the Maryland Urban Research Studio, she helped lead the team in their award-winning competition entry “Ground/Works” for The History’s Channel’s The City of the Future Challenge. She has published in journals such as Footprint, Architecture and Culture, Places, JAE, Powerlines, GAM, Dialectic, and the International Journal of Interior Architecture. She is also the lead editor of the book series, “Sustainable Solutions” (Greenleaf 2016).

Wortham-Galvin was named a fellow to the National Society of Collegiate Scholarship, a fellow for the Institute of Small Town Studies, cited in Who’s Who in Teaching, and awarded the Martin Fellow for Sustainability and the Alpha Rho Chi Medal. She recently had her course selected as one of five for the 2030 Curriculum Project that honors innovative models for transforming the way sustainable design is taught

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In terms of the virus, I think there is going to be a lot of fear with cities and density. I would say that we need research-based design that teaches us how to live safely in urban and dense environments. How do we live close together in safe, joyful, and responsible ways and still continue to do business as usual? Let’s find creative solutions and find out how we make those solutions financially viable.

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    • Urban design and city living
    • Sustainability
    • Urban spaces
    • Covservation

    Degrees, Institutions

    • Ph.D. history, theory and criticism of art architecture and the environment, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • Master of Science, historic preservation, University of Pennsylvania
    • Master of Architecture, University of Maryland
    • Bachelor’s in American civilization, Brown University