Renowned artist, architect, and academic leader – Karen Van Lengen amazes with each new project, a legend in our midst. The former School of Architecture Dean and current William Kenan Professor of Architecture took time from her brilliant work to answer our burning questions. Add “saint” to her list of accomplishments, and take a gander at her economical Spotlight responses below.

Please tell us about a defining moment in your research/work at UVA.
Working with IATH (Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities) at the University, I was able to imagine a new way of visually representing sound and then constructing a way of representing these drawings in a web based form. [Check out their collaborative project, Listening to the Lawn]

How do you practice work/life balance?
I do the best I can. Some periods are more challenging than others but having a rich family life helps a lot.

How has being a woman shaped your experience in your field?
Hard to put that into words since I don’t know what it’s like to be a man or anything else.

Whose work (musical, artistic, professional, or personal) inspires you to work harder or think differently?
James Welty, (Sculptor and animation artist), Hedda Sterne, (visual artist (1911-2011), Bill Fontana, (an accomplished sound artist), and my daughter, Kiri Van Lengen-Welty.

Who would you most like to meet (living or dead) for coffee?
My future grandchildren.

What’s your most unpopular opinion?
No idea, there are probably too many.

What’s something you do that you know you do differently from most people?
Dream–awake and asleep.

Describe your dream vacation.
Can’t – it wouldn’t be a dream vacation if I could already describe it.

What items can always be found in your fridge?
Salad and wine.

Favorite thing about Charlottesville
Many of the people I have met here.