Joe Colistra

Associate Professor, Department of Architecture
CDR Associate Research and Development
School of Architecture, Design & Planning
University of Kansas
Primary office:


Joe Colistra is an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Kansas. A licensed architect, he has been in practice for 20 years. He founded his own firm, in situ DESIGN in 2002. He has extensive experience in all types of housing, mixed-use, institutional, and community-based projects. He has also completed several major urban redevelopment master plans. Both his work and writings have been published extensively and he has been invited to exhibit and lecture around the world.

His design work and service to communities have received great recognition. He is the recipient of several American Institute of Architects awards, the Mayor’s Design Award, the Governor’s Design Award, and a Slow Home Award. In 2013 his work received an inaugural Public Interest Design Award from the US Green Building Council in conjunction with the SEED (Social Economic Environmental Design) Network.

He recently served as the Principal-in-Charge for the High Mar Senior Housing Project in Boulder, Colorado. In 2014, this $12 million Low Income Housing Tax Credit project was named Affordable Housing Project of the Year by Senior Housing News and was named Best Built Project by the Colorado Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism.

In 2013 Joe came to the University of Kansas from Dubai where he was teaching at the American University of Sharjah. Prior to teaching abroad he taught at the University of Colorado from 1999 to 2011. At KU he currently teaches Introduction to Architecture, Professional Practice, and a fifth year Social Entrepreneurship Studio. This final option studio participates in the Kansas Impact Project (KIP) and integrates architecture students with MBA students from the School of Business in providing business consulting to area nonprofits.

His research is focused on housing and building technology. He is currently working on senior housing models that leverage emerging technologies such as gait analysis, smart toilets, smart mirrors, sleep sensors, and color-spectrum-corrected LED lighting therapy. He is working with several industry partners to develop mass produced prefabricated housing units that can be deployed at scale.

Joe is a member of the American Institute of Architects and serves on the Kansas AIA Board of Directors. He is also a member of the School of Architecture, Design and Planning Advisory Board to the University of Kansas Information Technology Department.

In top 5 programs nationwide for its emphasis on construction materials and methods —DesignIntelligence magazine
Studio 804 students design and construct a technically sophisticated, sustainable building each year
Four buildings designed and constructed by Studio 804 architecture students have achieved Platinum LEED ratings
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times
KU Today