Graduate Admissions

Portrait of Reem

Reem Abi Samra


Hometown: Mazraat Yachouh, Lebanon
Education Background: BFA Architectural Design, BA Urban Studies from Parsons School of Design

How did you get interested in your field?
I’ve always seen architecture as a physical manifestation of the cultural, social and historical development of humanity. Combining the arts, engineering, and theoretical thought, I thought that the architecture education would be the most rewarding and holistic one for me.

What was your background prior to coming to Penn?
I graduated from Parsons School of Design with a BFA in Architectural Design and a BA in Urban Studies. In my last two years at Parsons, I interned at a residential architecture firm to gain a stronger grasp on architecture in practice. I was also fortunate enough to have won two travel grants: one to study Wildlife Conservation and Management in Tanzania, and another for a self-designed reportage drawing trip across France, Italy and Portugal.

Why did you choose Penn?
I had my heart set on Penn the moment I visited for Accepted Students Day. The professors were all impressive, the students were genuinely talented and enthusiastic about the school, and the facilities were remarkable. I knew that my architecture education would expand significantly with the interdisciplinary opportunities available.

What do you like best about Philadelphia?
The food! And the quirkiness of the architecture – some streets look like playful collages, where neo-classical buildings coincide with fast food chains, parking garages, and university buildings. There’s a lot to learn about urban redevelopment by simply walking down the street.

What kinds of activities and/or organizations are you involved in?
Being new to the school, I haven’t joined many organizations on campus yet but have attended events by Inclusion in Design, the Lebanese Club, and Penn Women in Design. Otherwise, in my “FREE” time, I enjoy playing music and taking dance lessons.

What are your career ambitions?
I’d love to start my own interdisciplinary design firm, integrating architecture, product design, visual arts, and theoretical research. Prior to that, I plan on working in offices across the nation and world to gain more experience regarding innovative and vernacular architecture.