‘The Class of’ profiles students in the five graduate programs at PennDesign who have excelled in their studies and received financial support through the generosity of alumni and other donors.
There are many reasons why Lichao Liu ended up at PennDesign, but the main one points to the inspiration of Lin Huiyin (BFA’27), an alumna of the University who, back in the day, really pioneered—with her husband, Liang Sicheng (GAr’27)—Beijing’s first waves of architectural preservation, city planning, and urban development.
“It all started with Penn,” says Liu, a candidate for the Master of Architecture. “Probably every Chinese student studying architecture knows about this story, making Penn top of mind.”
Liu, who has two bachelor’s degrees—one in architecture from Bartlett in London and the other in landscape architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—landed in the fields by chance, she says, thanks to her particular talents in math, physics, and visual arts, having an eye for landscape and building photography, as well as an urge to travel.
“I thought, ‘What major can I pursue that allows me to combine all these together?” she says. “It would be architecture. It is both creativity and logics at the same time. It’s actually worked out pretty well.”
Liu, who earned the Will M. Mehlhorn Scholarship after her first year at Penn, received an opportunity to intern at the Houston office of leading architecture firm Gensler this past summer. It was an honor, she says, to work at a firm that “constantly pursues better qualities of designs.”
After she graduates in 2020, Liu hopes to stay in the U.S. for a few years, working at a company that allows her to “make certain aspects in life better through design.” Eventually, she will return to Beijing, her home city.
“Design and architecture there needs more of my generation,” she says, “to shape a better Beijing.”
Student fellowships are one of the priorities of Lead by Design: The Campaign for PennDesign. To learn how you can get involved, visit leadbydesign.org.