Design with Nature

“In many ways, what students get in one semester is a more holistic understanding of sustainability than they could presently get at any traditional design school.” -American Institute of Architects (Ecological Literacy in Architecture Education Report) 


Real Clients. Real Projects.

Gain hands-on experience designing with nature to find solutions to global issues. Students develop and hone their skills in project planning, self-discipline, collaboration, creativity, and the design process as they work individually and in diverse groups on multiple design challenges; including projects that engage actual clients, real sites and real budgets. From constructing a scaled sculpture model to presenting design solutions to a real-life client, projects are a hands-on way of applying what you’ve learned and are an important part of the portfolio you will create.  

Ecosa CCJ


The task for Ecosa design students was to understand the issues surrounding homelessness in Prescott on a systemic level, and to provide CCJ with a number of deliverables that used design to further the goals of the organization. Students worked in teams to solve various aspects of this design challenge, and were expected to interact with the client (CCJ) at the start of the project in order to gain an understanding of the client’s needs, develop empathy, and hone their listening skills. Students presented concepts to the client (CCJ) as an initial rough concept, which showed students’ research strategy and direction, in a final presentation which included approaches to this design challenge, and in the final project design.  

Review the final presentation. 

ACPA Ecosa


As consultants for the ACPA expansion, the Ecosa Institute cohort has had the opportunity to communicate and design with a real client and its architecture firm. This project has inspired us to apply ecological design principles learned throughout our semester. We were influenced by visits to sites wherein systems such as photovoltaic installations, passive solar design, water catchment, and placeappropriate building materials have been employed successfully. ACPA’s strong, supportive, and open-minded nature inspired us to present three creative design concepts that encourage students to express their individuality, grow as a community, and develop into ecological stewards and future leaders.  



Lake Victoria or Victoria Nyanza is one of the African Great Lakes. Spanning three East African countries – Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda; it supports over 30 million people, employing millions either directly or indirectly in fishing and fish-related industries. Lake Victoria is a sick giant. A rapidly growing population, clearance of natural vegetation along its shores, the loss of many of its indigenous fish species, the prolific growth of algae, dumping of untreated industrial effluent, and a booming fish-export industry.  

A Plan for Mbita, Kenya As a participant in the Fall 2009 Certificate in Regenerative Ecological Design, Simon designed plans for a fish farm at the Dorothy Byrne Vocational School in Mbita, Kenya. Working on the project inspired him to continue his studies at Ecosa. The client then flew him to supervise work on the project and he was later inspired to continue advanced studies at Ecosa. 

Review the final presentation

Ecosa_6th Street


Prescott Sixth Street Redevelopment The Ecosa Institute students have been asked by a council member of the City of Prescott to create a vibrant new “urban” component in the downtown area of Prescott that will enhance the visitor experience and bring a new economic hub.

Students researched into both the social, economic and natural systems of the area. Students developed an understanding of the whole area, not only its history and the current human impact, but also the climate flows; air, water, vegetation, fauna, people, and traffic in all parts of this area.

The final proposal included: Streetscape renovation – including addition of bioswales and bike lanes, a “heart” of the district with modular housing over shops and dining, riparian restoration – a no-build zone with native plantings, new bus stops made of repurposed materials, a public art walk from downtown leading to 6th street and more. 

 Review the final presentation



You'll work on real client projects, build your portfolio and open the door to interships and work opportuities 


3-Day Aboriginal Living Skills Trip with Cody Lundin, Visit the Hopi Reservation, Arcosanti, Cosanti, and Taliesin West. 


Pliny Fisk III, Cynthia Fishman, Mark Lakeman, Brad Landcaster, Michael Ben-Eli and more.

What Our Students Are Saying 

"As an architecture student, my experience at Ecosa enriched my entire lifestyle by nurturing a more holistic approach to thinking and designing. I’m proud to say it’s the best experience I have had in education. The hands-on study/projects with real clients show how education should be, and all the guests were unbelievable.”

"A whole new perspective on the world! I have a clearer understanding of the systems at work in our society today and the greater implications of all the variables at hand. I have gained more awareness of the complexities of the global challenges facing us today and for the first time, I now feel empowered to be able to tackle these problems and come up with possible solutions. The course was definitely a catalyst for my life and has impacted choices in my daily life as well as my career. ”  

A leading program for sustainable design

Fall Semester Aug 27-Dec 6, 2019

The Ecosa Certificate Immerse Yourself in a 16-Week, 16-Credit Intensive Semester. Recognized by AIA and offered to both matriculating and non-matriculating students. 

Ecosa Student Builds Reed Hut

Master the Foundations of Regenerative Ecological Design

Students develop and hone their skills in project planning, self-discipline, collaboration, creativity, and the design process as they work individually and in diverse groups on multiple design challenges. 

Ecosa's core curriculum is based on an interwoven tapestry of 7 “Threads” 

  • Ecological Design Disciplines
  • Technical Design Skills and Technologies
  • Ecological Literacy 
  • Substainable Community Development
  • Communication Design 
  • Whole Systems Design
  • Art and Culture 

Learn from Ecologies of Arizona

Field trips are considered a core part of the program You can expect 3 or 4 out-of-town field trips during each program. Overnight accommodations include sleeping under the stars and group campground cooking.  

  • 3-Day Aboriginal Living Skills trip with instructor Cody Lundin
  • Sunset Crater, Wupatki, Cameron Trading Post, Hopi Reservation
  • Tucson – Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Mission San Xavier del Bac, rainwater harvesting and ecological living with Brad Lancaster 
  • Arcosanti, Cosanti and Taliesin West 
  • The Granite Dells, Prescott National Forest and lakes, Arizona’s Central Highlands, Glassford Hill, Prescott Valley, Granite Mountain, Thumb Butte

Study with Industry Leaders

Your intructors are leaders in the fields of: ecology, open source design, interior design, alternative technologies, urban planning, community design, alternative building systems, biomimicry, sustainability strategies, permaculture, and the patterns of nature, including:  

  • Pliny Fisk III, Center for Maximum Building Potential Systems, Austin, TX
  • Jesse Hernreich, Oakhaven Permaculture Center 
  • Mark Lakeman, Communitecture and City Repair, Portland, OR 
  • Mark Riegner, Professor of Evolutionary Theory (Patterns in Nature) 
  • Brad Lancaster, Rainwater Harvester, Tucson, AZ 
  • Michael Ben-Eli, Sustainability Laboratory, New York, NY 
  • Cynthia Fishman, Biomimicry and Denver Does Design, Denver, CO
Tony Brown Container House

Get Experience Working on Real Projects 

One of the unique aspects of the Ecosa Certificate is project work. Students develop and hone their skills in planning, self-discipline, collaboration, and creativity as they work on a diverse team and engage with actual clients, real sites and real budgets. From constructing a cube that becomes a house to presenting design solutions to a real-life client, projects are a hands-on way of applying what you’ve learned and are an important part of the portfolio you will create

A lifechanging 16-week intesive that will define your career.



Tony Brown Ecosa
Tony Brown at Taliesin Ecosa Prescott College

Antony Brown

Antony Brown has more than 40 years of experience working on sustainable architecture and urban design. He has taught sustainable design and planning at the college level and has lectured at universities around the United States and abroad. As Founder and Program Director of Ecosa Institute, Tony continues to develop an innovative new approach to educating students and graduates in the role of sustainability in design. He has attracted a number of leading architects, designers, scientists and writers to Ecosa to meet with students, review their work and share their approach to sustainable issues. Students now come to Ecosa Institute from around the world to supplement their design education. Mr. Brown has worked as an architect in London, Boston and San Francisco, and served at Arcosanti with Paolo Soleri for many years. He was also a magazine editor and writer of articles for which he has won press club awards, and his illustrations in “Nature Notes” and “The Ecology of the Grand Canyon” were also singled out for awards. Before starting his career in education, Tony founded an award-winning graphic design company as well as an architectural practice where he promoted concepts of sustainability.

Betsy Maddox Ecosa Prescott College

Betsy Maddox  

PRINCIPLES OF INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE Betsy is an inspired design and construction professional with 19 years of varied experience in the industry. Betsy is also an experienced national presenter, including 50+ Continuing Education Unit (CEU) courses accredited by the AIA and IDCEC. Betsy is particularly interested in learning environments and stays abreast of current trends in education design, pedagogy, and other external factors influencing how we’re educating our children, young people, and older adults.

Betsy joined DIRTT in 2011 and was instrumental in creating DIRTT’s current education-focused CEU course and leads its education-focused initiatives, marketing efforts and training programs. DIRTT offers an adaptive and sustainable alternative to conventional construction as a manufacturer of prefabricated interior construction solutions including walls, millwork, living wall, raised access floor, ceilings, timber frame and modular power & networks.

Mark Lakeman Ecosa Prescott College

Mark Lakeman  

SUSTAINABLE PUBLIC SPACES Mark Lakeman is a national leader in the development of sustainable public places. In the last decade he has directed or facilitated designs for more than three hundred new community-generated public places in Portland, Oregon alone. He is a co-founder of the City Repair Project in Portland, Oregon and served as the Co-Director of Creative Vision from 1995 to 2008. He is presently active as a project coordinator in the annual Village Building Convergence. Mark is also the founder and principal of Communitecture, Inc, a cutting edge design firm with sustainable building and planning projects at many scales.  


Micael Ben-Eli Prescott College

Micheal Ben-Eli  

PRINCIPALS OF SUSTAINABILITY Michael Ben-Eli is founder of the Sustainability Laboratory, established in order to develop and demonstrate groundbreaking approaches to sustainability practices, expanding prospects and producing positive, life-affirming impacts on people and ecosystems in all parts of the world. Prior to launching The Lab, Michael pioneered applications of Systems Thinking and Cybernetics in management and organization. Over the years he worked on synthesizing strategy issues in many parts of the world and in diverse institutional settings, ranging from small high technology firms to multinational enterprises, manufacturing companies, financial institutions, health care and educational organizations, government agencies, NGOs, and international multilateral organizations including the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Program, the Global Environment Facility, and others. 

Cynthia Fishman Ecosa Prescott College

Cynthia Fishman  

BIOMIMICRY Recently awareded the AIA 2019 Young Architects Award, Cynthia Fishman is the founder and Director of the Biomimicry Design Alliance, a research and architecture consulting group consisting of designers and scientists from the Denver area. She received her Bachelor of Architecture from Rice University in Houston, Texas, and was part of the first matriculating class at Arizona State University to earn a Master of Science in Biomimicry, the only accredited program in the world. Cynthia has also earned the title of Biomimicry Specialist (BSpec).  

She was a speaker at the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Rocky Mountain Green Conference in Denver, CO, at the Rocky Mountain Natural Building Conference in Golden, CO, and as the keynote speaker at the USGBC Arizona State Conference in Tempe, AZ. Cynthia co-founded and is President of, Denver Does Design. She teaches as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado Denver’s Architecture and Planning School. She was the recipient of the AIA Colorado Leadership Award in 2015 and was a winner of the Engineering News Record (ENR) Mountain States Top Young Professionals competition in 2018.  

Cynthia is a 2007 graduate of the Ecosa RE-Design Certificate program.  

Pliny Fisk Ecosa Prescott College

Pliny Fisk  

SUSTAINABLE DESIGN Futurist and sustainable design pioneer Piny Fisk from the Center from Maximum Potential Building Systems. 

His areas of expertise include:  

-Resource balanced design and planning methodology for buildings and communities -Research and demonstration focusing on materials life cycle, industrial ecology, and the reuse of by-products in building materials and systems. -Procedures for working with life cycle as a series of events at the building scale fostering human intervention and understanding  

Charles Anderson Ecosa Faculty

Charles Anderson  

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE As a practicing landscape architect for more than 25 years, Charles Anderson has crafted numerous award-winning projects recognized for their ability to integrate art, nature and cultural elements. With degrees in Landscape Architecture from Washington State University and Harvard and a penchant for teaching, he continues his query of art and science in his chosen profession. 

His work is grounded in horticulture and ecology, which forms the basis for an evolving body of work that highlights the transformative processes of ecological systems. Charles focuses on creating socially-relevant spaces and galvanizing the energy of others to advocate for landscape and open space. Using a palette of predominantly native plants and materials, Charles brings wild, dynamic landscapes into the city—elevating the “wild garden” to urban art.

Nadia Begin Ecosa

Nadia Begin  

TECHNOLOGY & SKILLS Nadia Begin, originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, received her BS in Architecture from the University of Montreal in 1993. As part of her program of study, she spent a year in Lausanne, Switzerland, at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne.  

Nadia moved to Arizona in 1993 to work with visionary Architect Paolo Soleri at Arcosanti, a prototype Urban Laboratory that explores the idea of Arcology (integrating Architecture + Ecology). For the past 10 years she has worked with Arcosanti alumni: Reynold Radoccia in Clarkdale, AZ at Architecture Works Green; Jeff Zucker of Zucker Architecture; and Tony Brown of Ecosa Institute in Prescott, AZ.  

Nadia has a strong commitment to develop, teach, and improve the concepts in architectural education and Arcology, which concentrates on what architecture can contribute to society.  

Ben Mancini Ecosa Prescott College

Ben Mancini ACTIVE AND PASSIVE SOLAR SYSTEMS Ben Mancini is a Certified Solar Installer and worked as a solar hot water installer from 1980-1981. He built his own off-grid passive solar home between 1983 and 1990 and started his own business, EV Products, doing electric vehicle conversions in 1991. He is currently a licensed contractor for solar hot water and solar electric systems and adjunct faculty at Yavapai College for renewable energy applications in residential construction.  

Rob Hunt Ecosa Prescott College

Rob Hunt  

ECOLOGY Rob Hunt is currently a PhD student in the Sustainability Education program at Prescott College, where he also earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Environmental Studies. He is program director at the Pritzlaff Ranch in New Mexico for the Biophilia Foundation, and also an adjunct faculty in the Adult Degree Program at Prescott College, teaching Ecology and Ecological Economics. He has been teaching a variety of environmental studies topics at Prescott College for the past 14 years and has an extensive background with government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private consulting firms working as a field biologist/ecologist, field botanist, and field ornithologist. His current research and projects are concentrated along the Arizona-Mexico border where he is working to employ sustainable economic development and education to aid in biodiversity and habitat preservation and restoration.  

Ecosa Prescott College Jesse Hernreich

Jesse Hernreich

PERMACULTURE Jesse Hernreich graduated from Prescott College with a B.A. degree in Environmental Science emphasizing agricultural ecology. She received a M.S. from the New School NYC in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management. In 2016, Jesse earned a Master Certificate in Water Resource Management and Climate Science from Columbia University in New York. Jesse received multiple Permaculture Design Certificates from around the globe. After receiving her Permaculture Teacher Training Certification from Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute in 2008, she began teaching Permaculture at both Prescott College and The Ecosa Institute in 2009 to current. Jesse founded Oakhaven Permaculture a 501c3 educational facility in Durango CO. Oakhaven Permaculture is a 60 acre working ranch that offers a Permaculture Design Certificate workshop, as well as workshops on Holistic Livestock Management, Herbalism, and Keyline Design. Jesse is a 2007 graduate of the Ecosa RE-Design Certificate program.  

Brad Lancaster Ecosa Prescott College

Brad Lancaster  

RAINWATER HARVESTING A two time author of "Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond" (Volumes I andII) Brad Lancaster has been teaching permaculture and running his own permaculture design consultation and education business since 1993. He and his brother have created, and live on, a thriving 1/8th of an acre urban permaculture site in downtown Tucson, Arizona. Within his neighborhood and beyond, Brad feeds his passion for community building and activism, resulting in the creation of an organic community garden, mini-nature park, salvaged bicycle cooperative, neighborhood newsletter, annual tree plantings, local food pot lucks, and more. He is author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands aimed at giving people the tools needed to welcome rainwater into their lives.  

Cody Lundin Ecosa Prescott College

Cody Lundin

ABORIGINAL LIVING SKILLS Cody Lundin grew up with the outdoors, from the Pacific coastline and the hills of Europe, to the plains of the Rocky Mountains and desert canyons of the Southwest. His passion for freedom led him to a lifestyle of resourcefulness and simplicity through the exploration of self-reliance. He teaches with rare intensity and humor to individuals, schools, colleges, universities and various organizations throughout the United States. Cody holds a B.A. in Depth Psychology and Holistic Health. He founded the Aboriginal Living Skills School, LLC (ALSS, LLC) during the winter of 1991 in Prescott, Arizona.  

Dr. Mark Riegner Prescott College

Mark Riegner

FORM AND PATTERN IN NATURE Mark Riegner, PhD has been teaching courses including Animal Behavior, Coastal Ecology (in Kino Bay, Mexico), Evolutionary Biology, Form and Pattern in Nature and Tropical Biology (in Costa Rica). His research interests embrace phenomenological approaches to understanding plant and animal morphology, a theme on which he has numerous publications. Mark relishes the opportunity to offer students sound academic courses with a strong field component, through which they may discover first-hand the wonder of the natural world as well as aspects of themselves. “Nature provides limitless possibilities for learning about both the world and ourselves. In fact, they go hand in hand, as expressed in Goethe’s words: ‘Each phenomenon in nature, rightly contemplated, awakens in us a new faculty for inner understanding.’ By approaching nature with an open-minded attitude, and by learning to recognize and formulate our own individual questions, we can begin to develop the necessary tools to guide us through life.”  

Walt Anderson Ecology Ecosa Prescott College

Walt Anderson  

ECOLOGY Walt Anderson is a naturalist, artist, photographer, and expedition guide. He recently retired as Professor of Environmental Studies at Prescott College, a position he had held since 1991. Walt will promote Ecosa’s brand of experiential education through fostering “informed imagination.” He has taught Natural History & Ecology of the Southwest, Interpreting Nature through Art & Photography, Wildlife Management, Wetland Ecology & Management, Animal Behavior, and holds a wealth of information about Prescott-area ecologies. Formerly a refuge biologist, Walt pioneered a program of access and interpretation in the Sutter Buttes of California, the subject of two books. He has also led nature-based and photography expeditions around the world, including recent trips to Tanzania and Amazonia. Walt’s writings, presentations, artwork, and photographs are all ways of sharing his passion for and knowledge of the natural world.  

Roger Asay Ecosa Prescott College

Roger Asay 

ART IN NATURE Roger Asay, along with his wife, Rebecca Davis, has exhibited sculptures throughout the US. The couple currently lives in Prescott, AZ. They have been collaborating since 1983 to produce sculpture which presents the raw materials of nature as the subject as well as the substance of their installation art. The resulting body of work has been shown in museums throughout the Southwest. Asay and Davis have created permanent site-specific outdoor sculptures for the cities of Prescott, Tucson, Cottonwood, and Phoenix in Arizona, as well as many temporary on-site installations. Their work is part of a number of public and private collections. Asay’s current work, consisting primarily of jumbles of sticks formed into polished spheres, is carried by Cervini Haas Gallery, Scottsdale, and Van Gogh’s Ear, Prescott. Through most of his career, Asay has been a part-time educator at universities and colleges. In the last decade has also created animal sculptures of stuccoed concrete in collaboration with Arizona school children.  

Vernon Masayesva Ecosa Prescott College

Vernon Masayesva  

HOPI SCIENCE Vernon Masayesva is the Executive Director of Black Mesa Trust, a Hopi Leader of the Coyote Clan, and a former Chairman of the Hopi Tribal Council from the village of Hotevilla, AZ, one of the oldest continuously inhabited human settlements in the Americas. He received his B.A. degree from Arizona State University in Political Science and a Masters of Arts from Central Michigan University in 1970. He returned to Black Mesa of the Hotevilla Bacavi Community School, the first Indian-controlled school on Hopi, as the lead educator of the school systems. In 1984, he was elected to the Hopi Tribal Council and then served as Chairman from 1989. In 1998, he founded the Black Mesa Trust and currently serves as its Executive Director. Vernon is an international speaker on the subject of water, is honored among many scientists, physicists, and water researchers, and was named an “Environmental Hero” by former President William Clinton for his commitment to water preservation. Among other things, Vernon is beginning a serious study of Hopi symbols and metaphors to understand who he is and what he can do to help his people lay a vision of a future Hopi society. 

Anthony Floyd Ecosa Prescott College

Anthony Floyd  

GREEN BUILDING STANDARDS Anthony Floyd has worked for the City of Scottsdale since 1985 as a building codes specialist and later as a city Building Official. He left the city in 1995 to participate in a one-year international study program which focused on the issues of sustainability, development, and global ecology. Since his return in 1996 he has worked to promote environmentally sound building practices. Anthony currently serves as Scottsdale’s Sustainable Building Manager and is in charge of the newly established Green Building Program which promulgates environmentally responsible and energy efficient building practices for city facilities, home construction and commercial development. Anthony is past chairman of the MAG (Maricopa Association of Governments) Building Codes Committee and past President of the Arizona Chapter of the International Conference of Building Officials. He currently serves on the Board of Governors of the World Organization of Building Officials, The Ecosa Institute, and as a member of the Arizona Solar Energy Advisory Council. Anthony is an Arizona registered architect and a certified building official. He has a civil engineering and architecture degree from Penn State University (1978) and a Master’s Degree in public administration (1994) from Arizona State University.


Marie Jones Ecosa Prescott College

Marie Jones  

GRAPHIC DESIGN Marie Jones has worked professionally in graphic design since 1978. Her involvement includes branding/identity, advertising, print collateral, packaging and book/editorial design in print and digital forms, focusing more recently on 3-dimensional interpretive and environmental projects as well as writing. Communicating complex information to broad audiences is her greatest interest.  

“Design is my natural process of studying, understanding and interpreting information, which I suspect is true for most designers. My goal at Ecosa is to assist students to understand both their own design motivation and natural methods and that of their audience so that they will develop their skills with consciousness.”  

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