Ellen Donnelly

Ellen Donnelly

Ellen Donnelly

Assistant Professor of Architecture

Brief Vitae Download Curriculum Vitae

M.Sc. Design-Research, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan, 2009

M. Architecture, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan, 2008

B.A., New York University, 2000


Assistant Professor Ellen Donnelly is an architectural designer, researcher and educator. Her research lies at the intersection of architecture and transient urbanism and deals with the spatial, cultural and temporal manifestations of large-scale events, installations and designed artifacts.

Ellen is a founding partner of Field Day, a research and design practice that explores situationally driven urbanisms that upend traditional notions of property ownership. Field Day’s project Do Not Disturb Occupants was recently exhibited in UCLA’s cityLab’s Los Angeles, Times 10, at the A+D Museum. As the Curatorial Fellow at UCLA’s Hammer Museum she was the co-curator of Building for Better Living: A. Quincy Jones, an exhibition that explored Jones’s role as an advocate for post-war housing reform and his association with progressive housing co-operatives and developers to make modern design accessible to the middle class. In 2015, she co-curated The Secret Life of Date Palms for the UAE Pavilion at the Milan Expo, a design-research project and exhibition which examined the historic role of the date palm tree in Middle Eastern culture, and sought to highlight its material and cultural significance in a period of rapid social, cultural and economic change.

Prior to joining UNL’s College of Architecture faculty in 2017, Ellen taught design studio, architectural theory, construction, and drawing courses at the University of Michigan and Pasadena City College. She has walked across Spain with architecture students twice as part of a study abroad course she developed entitled With[in], With[out] and [on] the Way: Walking the Camino de Santiago.

Research Interests

Ellen’s research and design interests lie at the intersection of the politics of property ownership and institutional authority relative to our increasingly transient and mobile culture. Through design interventions addressing material histories, construction assemblies and fabrication techniques, she reconsiders our preconceived notions about architecture’s stability and permanence, and proposes alternatives through speculative design. Her exhibition experience and archival work inform her working methodologies, while her personal experiences of cross-country road-trips, trans-atlantic ocean cruises and 500-mile pilgrimages inspire new avenues for research.


“Do Not Disturb Occupants” in cityLAb, times 10, ed. Dana Cuff, CityLab, UCLA, 2017

“A Pragmatic Visionary” in A. Quincy Jones: Building for Better Living, ed. by Brooke Hodge, Del Monico books, May 2013

“Michael Heizer” in This is Not to Be Looked At: Permanent Collection Catalogue, ed. Paul Schimmel. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2008