Our History

The Civita Institute is the dba of our founding name 'The Northwest Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy' (NIAUSI). We are a member-supported nonprofit corporation established in 1981 by the late Professor Emerita Astra Zarina who led a community of academics from the University of Washington (UW), plus architects from leading firms in the Pacific Northwest, UW students, and other creative supporters to define its mission and formation as a 501(c)(3) organization.

Originally intended as a means of involving the professional community in the learning experience provided by the Italian Studies Programs begun in 1971 by Professor Zarina for the University of Washington's College of Architecture and Urban Planning, NIAUSI's purpose has evolved and expanded to more widely support cultural exchange and excellence in the design quality of the built environment through our Fellowships, Membership programs, and Educational Programs located at our facility in Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy. 

We would be honored to have you join as a Member, participate in our programs, apply for a Fellowship, or enjoy a unique, member-stay experience within our historic buildings in Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy.  

The Civita Institute facilities, located in Alto Lazio, in the ancient hill town of Civita di Bagnoregio, were donated to The Civita Institute by the late Professor Emerita Astra Zarina and her husband Anthony Costa Heywood, architect. The Civita Institute and its participants continue to be enriched by their extraordinary generosity and vision. More about the life and work of Astra Zarina can be found at the following links: 

English Obituary

Necrologio Italiano