Renee Y. Chow
Acting Dean; Chair, Department of Architecture, Professor, Architecture And Urban Design, Executive Dean, UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design
Both Renee's practice and her research focus on the intersection between architecture and its locale. One problem for contemporary design is to link the structure of the city and landscape with its individual pieces — to design how each affects and is affected by the other. In making pieces of our cities — highways and streets, parks and buildings — our current architectural culture too often strives for a degree of formal autonomy from surrounding circumstances. The experience of a city becomes a cacophony of competing markers. The local experiences of neighborhood textures, district orientations, and collective practices of dwelling disappear as our design practices increasingly lose the tools to make them. Urban challenges of the 21st century — increasing porosity, reducing resource consumption, and accommodating urban diversity — require solutions that are locally rooted. Professor Chow has developed analytic and generative design tools for integrating urban and architectural systems across sites and individual buildings. These 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. To re-shape the discourse about the forms of urbanism both in suburbs and cities, Professor Chow has written Suburban Space: The Fabric of Dwelling (2002) and Changing Chinese Cities: The Potentials of Field Urbanism (2015).