Weitzman has selected Rossana Hu to join the faculty as a tenured professor and chair of the Department of Architecture, effective January 1, 2024. Hu is co-founder of Neri&Hu Design and Research Office, the widely-acclaimed interdisciplinary architecture practice based in Shanghai, and professor and chair of the Department of Architecture in the College of Architecture & Urban Planning at Tongji University.
Hu will be the third woman to lead the Department of Architecture. Winka Dubbeldam, professor and director of the Advanced Research & Innovation Lab (ARI), and founder and principal at the New York-based firm Archi-Tectonics, has served as chair since 2013, having joined the faculty in 1995. Adèle Naudé Santos was chair from 1981–1987.
Andrew Saunders, associate professor of architecture and director of the Master of Architecture program at Weitzman, will serve as acting chair of the Department of Architecture in the fall of 2023.
“We see ourselves as mediators: between past and present, individual and collective, public and private, rural and urban,” says Hu of her firm’s approach to architecture. “It’s clear that the faculty and students at Penn are equally committed to this vision.”
“Rossana Hu has been an incredible champion for design and designers,” says Weitzman Dean and Paley Professor Fritz Steiner. “Her work springs from a deep understanding of people and materials, and a thoughtful exploration of identity that is more important than ever to the practice of architecture.”
Hu began her career at the Architects Collaborative in San Francisco before working for Ralph Lerner and Michael Graves, and in 2004 co-founded Neri&Hu Design and Research Office with Lyndon Neri. Best known for breathing new life into historic sites, such as the Waterhouse at South Bund in Shanghai, Tsingpu Yangzhou Retreat in Yangzhou, and Nantou City Guesthouse in Shenzhen, the firm has completed numerous commissions spanning master planning, architecture, product and interior design, and branding. Neri&Hu’s work is the subject of a 2021 monograph from Thames & Hudson titled Thresholds: Space, Time and Practice and a 2018 monograph titled Neri&Hu Design and Research Office: Works and Projects 2002 - 2014. Neri&Hu and their designs have been recognized by a number of prestigious international awards, including Dezeen Awards Architecture Studio of the Year (2021); The Plan Award Overall Winner (2018); Wallpaper* Design Awards Designers of the Year (2014); Architectural Review Emerging Architecture Award (2010), and Architectural Record Design Vanguard (2009), among others. Their works have been exhibited at the Design Museum, London, and the MAXXI Museum, Rome, Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City. This May, they will exhibit at the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale.
A role model for the creative vanguard, Hu has profoundly transformed Shanghai’s design culture over the past 20 years. In 2016, she co-founded the Festival of Design in Shanghai, invigorating the city with a wide variety of design-oriented lectures and other public programs. She has also been invited as a judge for numerous prestigious awards and competitions, such as Dezeen Awards 2022, RIBA International Prize 2020 and among others. Hu is also a founding partner of Design Republic, a design platform incorporating retail concept, design and cultural exhibitions, and education. In 2015, she was appointed as the creative director of Stellar Works and she has served on the International Advisory Board of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra since 2018.
Alongside her design practice, Hu has been deeply committed to architectural education and has lectured at universities and professional forums throughout Europe, Asia, and the US. She has taught at the University of California, Berkeley; Harvard Graduate School of Design; Yale School of Architecture; University of Hong Kong; and others. Hu earned her Master of Architecture and Urban Planning from Princeton and her Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from University of California, Berkeley, with a minor in music.
Academic appointments are subject to review and approval by the School, provost, and the Board of Trustees.