Appointment of Professor Juan Du as Dean, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design (PDAD&C #40)

From: Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President & Provost
Date: January 21, 2021
Re: Appointment of Professor Juan Du as Dean, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design (PDAD&C #40)

I am delighted to announce that the Agenda Committee of Academic Board has approved the appointment of Professor Juan Du as Dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design for a five-year term from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2026. Professor Du will also be joining the Daniels Faculty at the rank of Full Professor.

Professor Du joins the University of Toronto from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) where she is currently appointed as the Associate Dean (International and Mainland China Affairs), and has served in various academic and administrative leadership roles during her 15 years of tenure at the university.  Professor Du has led significant curriculum development in the undergraduate and graduate architecture programs, master’s thesis reforms, experiential learning projects, international collaborations, and established the Urban Ecologies Design Lab at HKU. Professor Du is an internationally recognized architectural scholar whose creative practice, teaching, and research explore urban theories and architectural designs to address the social and environmental impacts of rapid urbanization. In her works, Professor Du combines her research interests with professional practice and community engagement to advocate for affordable housing in urban centres, with an emphasis on the marginalized groups who often make up a large, but unseen, segment of city populations. She is the founding director of the award-winning IDU_architecture, a design and research practice for environmentally and socially responsible urban planning and architectural design.

Professor Du has frequently contributed to international exhibitions as exhibitor as well as curator. She was instrumental in assisting the city government to establish the inaugural 2005 Shenzhen Hong Kong Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (UABB), and in the ensuing decades through exhibiting, curating, and advising. In 2010, She was appointed as Chief Curator of Hong Kong’s entry at the Venice Biennale of Architecture with “Quotidian Architecture” – to establish the connection between concepts of sustainability with the practice of everyday life and cross-sector collaborations. For over a decade, Professor Du has engaged in architectural activism in collaboration with various NGOs, social organizations, and governmental agencies, to work with resident communities and improve their living conditions in informal settlements. These have included a community center for a Hakka Urban Village in Shenzhen, “Home Improvement” of Subdivided Units, “Home Sharing” housing units in tenement buildings and “Friendship Homes” of transitional housing for the working homeless of Hong Kong. Professor Du involved her students at HKU to work alongside her on many of these social projects as live-classroom opportunities for experiential learning and community contribution. Most recently, Professor Du has received a multi-year social impact grant for “Housing in Place”, a collaboration with Habitat for Humanity to improve the living conditions of hundreds of residents in subdivided units, provide new social housing units to public housing wait-list families, as well as to establish a mobile community center and online platform for social services and knowledge sharing.

Professor Du’s research and scholarship take an interdisciplinary and critical approach to architecture and urbanism as it applies at the national and international level. Last year, Professor Du’s award-winning monograph The Shenzhen Experiment: The Story of China’s Instant City (Harvard University Press, 2020) challenged established misconceptions of top-down planning as the key to the Chinese city’s success, and provided humanistic narratives that conveyed the importance of history, ecology, politics, culture, and people. In addition to the monograph and book chapters, she has contributed articles to top venues in the field, including e-flux, The Architectural Review, Domus, and Journal of Architectural Education. Professor Du’s research has been reported by international media, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and CNN. She was recently featured in New Chinese Architecture: Twenty Women Building the Future published by Thames & Hudson Publishers (London).

Professor Du received her Bachelor of Design in Architecture at the University of Florida, her Master of Architecture at Princeton University, and her Doctorate of Science in Architecture from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). Prior to joining HKU, Professor Du worked in acclaimed architecture firms in the US, Europe, and China for over a decade, and was a Lecturer and Visiting Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Fulbright Fellow, and Senior Visiting Scholar at Tongji University, and has served as Design Critic at various international academic institutions.

Professor Du’s breadth of professional and academic experience, passion for interdisciplinary design philosophies, and dedication to student success in all aspects of her work will be key to the Daniels Faculty in the years ahead. Please join me welcoming Professor Du to the University of Toronto.