Press Room

University of Pennsylvania School of Design Welcomes New Faculty Members in Architecture, City and Regional Planning, and Fine Arts

Faculty in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Fine Arts Earn Promotions

Philadelphia—The University of Pennsylvania School of Design (PennDesign) welcomes five new members of the standing faculty, subject to University approval. They are: Masoud Akbarzadeh, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture; Michelle Lopez, Assistant Professor, Department of Fine Arts; Vincent Reina, Assistant Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning; and Lisa Servon, Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning. Joining the faculty on January 1, 2017 is Allison Lassiter, Assistant Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning. Collectively, they are developing new applications for materials, structures and data to make the built environment healthier and more sustainable, and our societies more equitable.

Professor of Fine Arts Ken Lum has been appointed chair of the Department of Fine Arts. A widely exhibited and published artist known for timely public-art commissions, Lum succeeds Professor of Fine Arts Joshua Mosley, who will continue to teach as a member of the standing faculty. Matt Neff, has been named interim director of the undergraduate program and will continue as director at the Common Press.

Several members of the PennDesign faculty have earned promotions: Christopher Marcinkoski, to Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, with tenure; Franca Trubiano, to Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, with tenure; Ferda Kolatan, to Associate Professor of Practice, Department of Architecture; Joan Ockman, Senior Lecturer, Department of Architecture; and Ivanco Talevski, to Senior Lecturer, Department of Fine Arts. In addition, University Architect David Hollenberg has been appointed Adjunct Professor, and Pamela Hawkes Professor of Practice, both in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation.

“PennDesign’s newest faculty members are expanding the opportunities for architects, artists, and planners to have a meaningful and lasting impact on our communities, and I’m confident they will help take our programs to new heights,” said Dean and Paley Professor Frederick Steiner, whose appointment at the School began July 1.

Faculty appointments are formally reviewed by the Provost and the Board of Trustees in the fall.

Masoud Akbarzadeh holds a PhD from the Institute of Technology in Architecture, ETH Zurich, where he was a research assistant in the Block Research Group. He holds two degrees from MIT: a Master of Science in Architecture Studies (Computation) and an MArch, the thesis for which earned him the renowned SOM award. He also has a degree in Earthquake Engineering and Dynamics of Structures from the Iran University of Science and Technology and a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering. His main research topic is Three-Dimensional Graphical Statics, which is a novel geometric method of structural design in three dimensions. 

Allison Lassiter is an urban and environmental planner with a PhD from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at UC Berkeley. She also holds a Master’s in City Planning from MIT and a BS in Computational Biology from Cornell. Working at the intersection of spatial analysis and urban resource management, she maps consumer demand, evaluates the factors which contribute to consumption, and builds tools to support resource-efficient cities and suburbs. Her research relates to water, climate and land use.

Michelle Lopez is a multimedia artist known for her rigorous conceptual practice and boldly experimental approach to processes and materials. Her installations and sculptural works are grounded in research on the iconography of cultural phenomena. Lopez’s work has been exhibited in a variety of prestigious galleries and institutions both nationally and internationally for over 20 years. She has taught at Columbia, NYU, Yale, SVA and UC Berkeley, where she headed the sculpture division in both undergraduate and graduate studies. She holds an MFA from the School of Visual Arts and a BA in Literature and Art History from Barnard.

Vincent Reina holds a PhD from USC, a BS in Urban Studies from Cornell, an MSc in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford, and an MBA from NYU. His research focuses on urban economics, low-income housing policy, household mobility, and the role of housing in community and economic development. Reina was previously a Fellow at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at NYU, a Research Associate at the Lusk Center for Real Estate at USC, a Coro Fellow, and worked at LISC and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Lisa Servon was previously Professor of Management and Urban Policy at The New School, where she also served as Dean at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. She conducts research in the areas of urban poverty, community development, economic development, and issues of gender and race. Specific areas of expertise include economic insecurity, consumer financial services, and financial justice. Servon holds a BA in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College, an MA in History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD in Urban Planning from UC Berkeley.

About PennDesign

PennDesign is an inventive place of learning where the many fields of architecture, planning, preservation, landscape and the fine arts come together on shared ground. At PennDesign, we are dedicated to design that is creative in nature and transformative in impact. In a collaborative environment that fosters inquiry and experimentation, faculty and students seek to recast the distinction between theory and practice, expand knowledge and invention through research, and contribute works of value and beauty.

Media Contact: Michael Grant,, 215.898.2539.