Today campus has announced that Renee Y. Chow, celebrated architect, professor and chair of the Department of Architecture has accepted their offer to become the College of Environmental Design’s next Dean, beginning on November 9, 2021.
Over her nearly three-decade career at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, Professor Chow has served as associate dean for undergraduate studies, Eva Li chair in design ethics, and chair of the Department of Architecture. Most recently she served as Acting Dean from 2019-2020, Executive Dean from 2020-2021, and is currently serving as Acting Dean for Fall 2021. Following her decanal appointment, the Department of Architecture will immediately initiate an accelerated appointment to fill the role of chair based on recommendations from the department’s faculty and leadership.
Having served in many leadership roles during her tenure at UC Berkeley, Professor Chow has greatly shaped the college, providing stability and vision — particularly during recent unprecedented events. As Acting Dean from 2019-2020, she led efforts to quickly pivot the college’s robust studio-based teaching model to online instruction during power outages caused by wildfires and the start of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Similarly, as Acting Dean this Fall, she helped to transition the College safely back to an in-person instruction model after 18 months of remote teaching and learning.
“We are delighted to welcome Professor Chow at the helm of CED. As Acting Dean, she proved to have a steady hand, an open ear, and strategic insights that were critical to the College. We look forward to continuing working together with Dean Chow,” said Daniel A. Rodriguez, Professor and Co-Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning.
In her role as Chair in the Department of Architecture, Chow also recently established “Making it Happen,” a diversity initiative funded by the Graduate Division, that works towards the department becoming an anti-racist institution, discipline, and profession by prioritizing student and faculty diversity, improving teaching models with pedagogical assesments, and engaging deeply in social justice work, among other priorities. As Dean, Chow will continue to prioritize these efforts college-wide while still focusing on the student experience and research excellence at CED, which have guided her decades-long efforts as a professor and leader.
“Renee has worked with students, faculty and staff to collectively plan and implement a wide range of programs in the Department of Architecture around equity and inclusion with “Making it Happen.” I look forward to seeing how all the knowledge Renee has gained from leading these initiatives at the department level will inform her leadership as our new Dean.” said Greig Crysler, Professor of Architecture and Arcus Chair for Gender, Sexuality and the Built Environment.
In her impressive academic career, Professor Chow’s teaching and research at CED focuses on the intersection between architecture and its locale. She has developed analytic and generative design tools for integrating urban and architectural systems across sites and individual buildings that are used internationally. These architectural tools are directed toward encoding and extending local conditions, increasing urban legibility and identity, differentiating agency and time, embedding resource strategies at a community scale and facilitating design collaboration. These practices are best highlighted in her publications Suburban Space: The Fabric of Dwelling (2002) and Changing Chinese Cities: The Potentials of Field Urbanism (2015).
“It’s exciting for CED that Renee has built research partnerships in China, as well as other countries in the Pacific Rim. Her passion for designing cities in relation to water and social equity will open doors to the world for CED,” said Kristina Hill, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning and Director of the Institute of Urban and Regional Development.
Professor Chow was recently named the 2021 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Distinguished Professor, was named by Architecture Magazine as one of the “Ten Top Architectural Educators” in 2009, and recognized by the AIA California Council with its Research and Technology Honor Award. Prior to Chow’s tenure at UC Berkeley, she was professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she also received her SBAD and Master’s of Architecture.
Professor Chow assumes this appointment after Vishaan Chakrabarti announced in September that he would step down from his decanal appointment after one year in the role due to pandemic related family needs.
Please join us in congratulating Professor Renee Chow on this much-deserved appointment and in supporting her success in leading the College of Environmental Design.