Elizabeth English has experience in education, practice, teaching and research in both the fields of Architecture and Civil Engineering. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Urban Planning from Princeton University, a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a PhD in Architectural Theory from the University of Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth's current research focuses on developing amphibious foundation systems as a flood mitigation and climate change adaptation strategy that supports the preservation of traditional housing forms and cultural practices. She is working on projects for indigenous and indigent populations in south Louisiana, the Canadian north, Jamaica and Vietnam. She came to flood risk reduction from a background of many years of research in the field of wind engineering, specifically in the areas of wind effects on tall buildings and hurricane wind mitigation. Elizabeth also has a strong research and teaching interest in Russian avant-garde architectural theory and its roots in 19th c. Slavophile philosophy, which was the topic of her PhD dissertation.
Elizabeth is the founder and director of the Buoyant Foundation Project, a not-for-profit organization based in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, and Cambridge, Ontario, that is a leader in the development of amphibious technologies for affordable housing and for retrofitting existing homes. She is also the founder and organizer of the Building Resilience Workshops in New Orleans. Both of these projects promote strategies that work WITH water to enhance community resilience, and both encourage the use of redundant forms of flood mitigation to diffuse the concentration of risk that leads to catastrophe in the wake of the inevitable failure of a single-line-of-defense system. In August 2015 she was co-chair of ICAADE 2015, the first International Conference on Amphibious Architecture, Design and Engineering, held in Bangkok, Thailand. She chaired the second ICAADE, which convened at the University of Waterloo in June 2017. Initial planning for ICAADE 2019, to be held in London, UK, is underway.