Rossana Hu, founding partner of Neri&Hu Design and Research Office and chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design, joined Weitzman’s 2024 commencement ceremony to award acclaimed Chinese architect and preservationist Lin Huiyin (1904-1955) the long-overdue, posthumous Bachelor of Architecture degree, honoring her legacy as a pioneer in modern Chinese architecture. The commencement ceremony took place on Saturday, May 18, from 6-8 p.m. EDT at Penn’s campus in Philadelphia and was livestreamed on the Weitzman YouTube channel.

Lin Huiyin and Liang Sicheng at Ball L'Impressionistique

Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin at the Ball L’Impressionistique, organized by Penn’s architecture students, in 1926.

Photo courtesy of the University Archives at Penn

Huiyin had traveled to the U.S. in 1924 to study with Liang Sicheng, who earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Penn in 1927. Because the architecture program did not admit female students until 1934, the fine arts degree was the only option available to her. She also completed most of the coursework required for a Bachelor of Architecture degree — the exceptions including a drawing course that was not open to female students because the live models included men — and often outperformed her male peers. Due to gender reasons, she did not receive a bachelor’s degree in architecture at the time.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Huiyin’s enrollment in the school and the first year with Hu as chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design. Hu is the third woman and first Chinese to lead the Department of Architecture. Hu mentioned in a previous interview that the legacy of Huiyin is still a pillar of Chinese culture. “In the minds of Chinese women, she’s really high up there — admired by everyone,” she said. “[Sicheng and Huiyin] are very well-known, and not just because they’re architects.”

Hu also joined a panel discussion on May 19 marking this significant milestone in Penn’s history and featuring a conversation with distinguished experts in Chinese architecture, combining academic insights with a celebratory reception. The discussion took place at the Fisher Fine Arts Library on Penn’s campus.