Professor Atsuko Sakai
Read Dr. Sakai's full bio below and click here for a special faculty spotlight Q&A.
Born and raised in Japan, Atsuko Sakai received her B.A. in Environmental Design from Kyoto City University of Arts, and her Masters degree in Architecture from the University of New Mexico (UNM) with an emphasis on their "Architecture and Children program," a topic she has presented workshops on in Japan, Finland, Turkey and the U.S.
After graduation, she worked for Quinn Evans Architects in Washington DC on design projects unique to the capital, including the renovation of the John F. Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and various educational facilities and museums. After returning to New Mexico, she was the director of design education programs at Design Plus LLC, and taught at the UNM School of Architecture and its Honors College. Sakai has also served as a board member of School Zone Institute.
Most of her courses are designed to study the ways of life and explore the world around us through a lens of art, design and architecture including:
- the Acquisition of Knowledge courses, which incorporate hands-on studio projects with philosophical studies of knowledge;
- the Arts and Humanities courses which foster design literacy—visual, spatial, and ecological, as well as conceptual development;
- the Geographical Perspectives courses with an emphasis on Japan; and
- Special Topics and Interdisciplinary Research/Projects to explore interactive design thinking techniques through service learning and community engagement.
Her research interest, "Human Interface - perception and expression through the eye
of design," intends to draw an inquisitive attention to human behavior and interactions
with designed objects, architecture, and the environment. She uses the design process
as a form of pedagogy, which embraces interdisciplinary investigations of the artistic,
ecological, and cultural intersections between human perception and creation where
our creative minds meet and interact; it is the driving force of her curiosity, inspiration
and insight into what she teaches and why she teaches.