Sara Zewde is founding principal of Studio Zewde, a design firm practicing landscape architecture, urbanism, and public art. Recent and ongoing projects of the firm include the Mander Recreation Center Campus (Philadelphia, PA), the Midtown Activation Project (Seattle, WA), and Graffiti Pier (Philadelphia, PA). Zewde’s practice and research start from her contention that the discipline of landscape architecture is tightly bound by precedents and typologies rooted in specific traditions that must be challenged. Without rigorous investigation, these cultural assumptions will silently continue to constrict the practice of design and reinforce a quiet, cultural hegemony in the built form of cities and landscapes. Her projects exemplify how sensitivities to culture, ecology, and craft can serve as creative departures for expanding design traditions.
Zewde previously held faculty appointments at GSAPP, Columbia University and at the University of Texas School of Architecture. She holds the Master in Landscape Architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a master in city planning from MIT, and a BA in sociology and statistics from Boston University. She regularly writes, lectures, and exhibits her work and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Silberberg Memorial Award for Urban Design and the Hebbert Award for Contribution to the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. While a student in the MLA I program at GSD, Zewde was named the 2014 National Olmsted Scholar by the Landscape Architecture Foundation; she also was recognized with a 2016 Artist-in-Residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation; and in 2018, was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's inaugural “40 Under 40: People Saving Places.” In 2020, she was named a United States Artists Fellow. Her work has been exhibited at the 2016 and 2018 Venice Biennale, in the Brazilian and U.S national pavilions.