Dezeen Magazine

Rossana Hu

University of Pennsylvania names Rossana Hu architecture department chair

Shanghai-based architect Rossana Hu has been named as a tenured faculty member and chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Hu, a co-founder of architecture studio Neri&Hu Design and Research Office, was selected to join and lead the architecture apartment at Stuart Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn).

"Neri&Hu has always had a global perspective; as our project reaches beyond Asia, and as our increasingly diverse international staff, leading a US design school will only make the practice stronger and more open," Hu told Dezeen.

"And I am excited to see what we can do together to impact the future of architecture."

Born in Taiwan, Hu is the third woman to hold the appointment and will take the place of the current chair, Dutch-American architect and Architectonics founder Winka Dubbeldam, who has led the department since 2013.

Set to begin in 2024, the appointment will see Hu overseeing the department at the historic American university, founded in 1740.

The appointment marks a return to the United States for Hu, who was schooled at the University of California in Berkeley and Princeton and who began her career under American architects Michael Graves and Ralph Lerner.

Hu has also served as a visiting professor at other prestigious US institutions such as Berkeley, Harvard and Yale, and currently serves as the chair of the Department of Architecture in the College of Architecture & Urban Planning at Tongji University.

She founded Neri&Hu in 2004 with her husband Lyndon Neri, where she has "profoundly transformed Shanghai's design culture", the University of Pennslyvania said.

Noteworthy projects from the studio include The Waterhouse at South Bund, as well as the Junshan Cultural Centre in Beijing, and a stone-clad distillery for Pernod Ricard in Sichuan.

Last year, Neri&Hu's work was featured in a retrospective at Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin called Reflective Nostalgia.

The studio has released a number of furniture designs and installations and Hu is also the creative director for Shanghai-based, international furniture outfit Stellar Works.

Over the years, Hu has been an outspoken critic of architecture, especially in terms of commenting on Chinese architects and their relationship with styles from Western nations.

In 2018, Neri and Hu told Dezeen that things were changing in Shanghai and that architects there are "developing their own language", after she had expressed concern nearly a decade earlier about the direction of the architectural culture in the country.

Hu has also been a supporter and facilitator of the design scene in China as the co-founder of the Festival of Design in Shanghai.

Other recent appointments in architectural education in the United States include the elevation of architect Stephanie Lin to the dean of the School of Architecture (TSOA).

The photography is by Thierry Coulon.