Ellen Lou, President

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Ellen Lou directs SOM’s Urban Design and Planning Practice in San Francisco. In a time when cities represent the greatest hope for a sustainable future, she is leading the creation of groundbreaking development strategies for resilient and ecological metropolitan centers. Working across North America and Asia, Lou is recognized for coalescing diverse interests around actionable visions that prioritize people-scaled, transportation-rich development; create public benefit; rejuvenate the natural environment; root future growth in the culture and aspirations of place and healthy cities.

Lou’s life, education, and distinguished career spans the Pacific Rim during a period when rapid urbanization worldwide has given her global perspective and expertise particular relevance. Sustainable, humane responses to urban growth underpin her diverse portfolio of award-winning work, which includes urban design plans for San Francisco’s rising Transbay District, a major transit oriented development; Guangzhou Baietan, a waterfront regeneration development on the Pearl River, as well as groundbreaking work introducing district-level historic preservation in China.

A sought after speaker and advisor nationally and internationally, she consults regularly with planning officials, has lectured before more than 150 mayors and government leaders, and has served as a visiting instructor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and University of California, Berkeley, among others. As a board member of SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research) and through other advisory roles she advocates for sustainable, economic growth throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.


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