Emanuel Admassu and Jen Wood

Jen Wood and Emanuel Admassu, Founding Principals, AD-WO. Portrait by Rachel Hulin.
April 14, 2021
12:00 p.m.

2021 Spotlight Award + Lecture

Zoom webinar

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Emanuel Admassu, Founding Principal, AD–WO, and Associate Professor, Rhode Island School of Design, and Jen Wood, Founding Principal, AD–WO, present the lecture "Immeasurability" on Wednesday, April 14, at 12:00 p.m. via Zoom as recipients of the 2021 Rice Design Alliance Spotlight Award.

Founded in 2015, AD–WO is an art and architecture practice based in Providence, Rhode Island, and by extension, between Melbourne and Addis Ababa. The practice aims to establish an operational terrain between architecture’s content and container: equally committed to designing buildings and reimagining their dynamic sociopolitical contexts.

The firm has undertaken various projects in Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Korea, Germany, and the United States, engaging with multi-family residential, agricultural township revitalization, civic infrastructure, collaborative art installations, and exhibition design. Their work has been exhibited at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, Architekturmueum der TU München, and Art Omi. They are currently developing a mid-sized apartment building in Addis Ababa and are responsible for an installation in the exhibition Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America, which opened recently at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Emanuel Admassu (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) is a founding partner of AD–WO and an Associate Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he teaches design studios and theory seminars. He has taught at Columbia GSAPP and worked with design practices in Atlanta and New York City. Admassu’s teaching, research, and design practices examine the international constellation of Afrodiasporic spaces. Admassu completed his Bachelor of Architecture at Southern Polytechnic State University, followed by a Master of Advanced Architectural Design and Advanced Architectural Research at Columbia University.


Jen Wood (Melbourne, Australia) is a founding partner of AD–WO and a licensed Architect in the state of New York. Until 2018, Wood was at BIG as a Project Leader of The Spiral tower in New York City. Wood has also worked with Toshihiro Oki Architect in New York, LAB Architecture Studio, and Minifie van Schaik in Melbourne. Her project experience ranges from residential through to large-scale urban development. Wood received her Bachelor and Master of Architecture at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and a Master in Advanced Architectural Design at Columbia University.
The Spotlight Award recognizes the work of exceptionally gifted national and international architects in the early stages of their professional career who have demonstrated design excellence and curiosity through their body of work.
Learn more about the Spotlight Award and view a list of past awardees here.
RDA's Spotlight Award + Lecture is made possible through the generous support of Rice University’s Humanities Research Center, with additional support from the Texas Commission on the Arts. Funding also is provided by RDA Underwriters: MAREK, W.S. Bellows Construction Corp., Harvey | Harvey-Cleary, Tellepsen, Hines, HKS, Inc., IBEW, MLN Company, m Strategic Partners, TDIndustries, TRIO Electric, and Walker Engineering, Inc. 
The Spotlight Award Lecture is eligible for one AIA/CES Learning Unit. Rice Design Alliance is an AIA/CES Registered Provider of quality educational programs.