Cathi Ho Schar, FAIA

Cathi Ho Schar is an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Architecture, and the inaugural director of the University of Hawaiʻi Community Design Center (UHCDC). She brings 18 years of professional practice experience in Hawai’i to her role at the university and center. Prior to her role at the university, Cathi was the co-founder of one of a few women-owned architectural practices in Honolulu. As the director of UHCDC, Cathi’s work is fundamentally collaborative, engaging university and professional colleagues, and government and community partners, in ways that promote student agency and system-wide benefits. Over six years, Cathi worked with legislators, faculty members, and agency directors to establish UHCDC partnerships with over 12 state partners. These relationships generated academic and funded research opportunities that connected over 20 faculty across 6 departments and hundreds of students on projects serving our statewide community. This unique Hawai’i-serving model for community design earned the 2020 American Institute of Architecture (AIA) and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) Practice & Leadership Award. Cathi’s personal research explores processes aimed at equity, inclusion, engagement, and collaboration. Her work on multi-disciplinary teaching and research teams received the 2020 ACSA Collaborative Practice Award, 2021 ACSA Course Development Prize in Architecture Climate Change and Society, and 2021 ACSA Annual Meeting Best Project Award. In 2021, Cathi’s individual efforts were recognized with an ACSA New Faculty Teaching Award and elevation to the AIA College of Fellows. Cathi was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. She earned her B.A. at Stanford University and M.Arch from the University of California at Berkeley.

Research & Creative Work

Areas of Interest

Public interest and public sector design practice
Community equity and engagement
New models for collaboration and knowledge-sharing

Professional Experience

Brand + Allen San Francisco, CA
Urban Works Inc., Honolulu, HI
Collaborative Studio LLC, Honolulu HI Co-founder/Principal

Peer-reviewed presentations and publications:

Schar, Cathi, “Decolonizing Toolbox for Corrections,” Routledge Companion to Architectural Education in the Global South, book chapter, forthcoming

Schar, Cathi, Nicole Biewenga, & Mark Lombawa, “Decolonizing Prisons,” Journal of Architectural Education (74:2), forthcoming

Schar, Cathi, “Distributed Resources: A Studio Approach”,  2020 AIA/ACSA Intersections Research Conference: Carbon, held virtually September 30-October 2nd, 2020 (presented)

Schar, Cathi, “UHCDC: Exploring Public Sector Practice,” ACSA Annual Meeting OPEN, held virtually June 11-14 2020  (presented and  paper submitted)

Schar, Cathi and Nicole Biewenga, Mark Lombawa, “Decolonizing Frameworks: A Cultural Design Resource for Corrections,” ACSA Annual Meeting OPEN,  March 12-14 2020 San Diego, CA  (presented and paper submitted)

Schar, Cathi, “The University as a Public Sector Practice,” EDRA51 Transform: Socially Embedded Collaboration, Tempe Arizona,  April 4-7 2020 (presented)

Schar, Cathi,  “Cultural Infrastructure,” NCBDS Conference After Form, University of Texas A&M April 2-4 2020  (abstract accepted)

Schar, Cathi, “Top down, Bottom Up,” American Architectural Organizations Annual Conference  Design Matters Chicago, November 8, 2019 (presented)

Schar, Cathi, “Design In Government,” ACSA Fall Conference Less Talk | More Action: Conscious Shifts in Architectural Education, Stanford University, September 14, 2019 (presented and published in proceedings)

Schar, Cathi “Toward Public Sector Practice,” ACSA/EAAE Teachers Conference Teaching of Practice, Practice of Teaching, University of Antwerp, June 28, 2019 (presented and published in proceedings)

Schar, Cathi, “How Community Design Can Support Campus Facilities Planning and Design,” SCUP Regional Conference The Role of Discourse Today, University of Colorado at Boulder,  March 27-29, 2019 (presented)

Schar, Cathi, “Notes on Community-led Collaboration: Waipahu Transit Oriented Development,” 2019 CELA Annual Conference Engaged Scholarship, Sacramento, March 7-9, 2019 (presented and published in proceedings)

Schar, Cathi, “Design as a Public Service: A Case for the University of Hawaiʻi Community Design Center,” 17th Annual Hawaiʻi International Conference on Arts and Humanities, Honolulu, January 9-12, 2019 (presented)

Schar, Cathi and Daniel Friedman, “The Politics of Repair in a Post-colonial Context”  ACSA/SOAM International Conference, New Instrumentalities, Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Madrid,  Madrid, Spain,  June 16-18, 2018 (presented and published in proceedings)

Schar, Cathi, “Rethinking Outcomes: Mutual Benefit in Community Engaged Teaching,”
Association for Community Design Annual Conference, Baltimore Maryland June 8-9, 2018 (presented)


Registered Architect , Hawaii