Thursday, February 6, 2020

As an architectural designer at Studio Joseph in New York City, Shuo Yang (BSE civil engineering ’14; BA art ’14) mainly works on projects in pavilions, exhibitions, and public spaces, like educational facilities and museums. Yang says the solid interdisciplinary education he received at the University of Iowa (UI) opened the door to and prepared him well for his dream career. 

Shuo Yang in his apartment in Iowa City

Shuo Yang in his apartment in Iowa City

Growing up in Beijing, China, Yang always knew he wanted to work on buildings. However, in high school, he didn’t have the confidence to explore college programs in the area of architecture, because he couldn’t draw well at that time. His father suggested he look into the structural side of buildings instead, leading to Yang’s decision to enroll in the civil engineering undergraduate program at the UI. 

“In addition to completing a curriculum related to my civil engineering major, I was required to take rhetoric, literature, arts, and other core general education courses, giving me an in-depth overview of American society and culture beyond the Hollywood movies I had watched before moving to Iowa City. The UI not only shaped me academically, but also culturally.”

Like many engineering undergraduate students at the UI, Yang was interested in getting broad exposure to areas that were complementary to his major. After talking to his professors and senior peers in civil engineering, Yang decided to pursue the pre-architecture elective focus area, although he was still nervous about his skills in art and design. 

“It turned out that the faculty and staff at the School of Art and Art History were anything but distant. Art professors and instructors encouraged me to keep an open mind and try out all the possibilities when registering for art and design courses. Eventually, I was able to develop solid skills in drawing plans, sections, and axonometric diagrams, mainly in AutoCAD, and in rendering images using 3ds Max. These are the foundation of how I illustrate and present my design ideas.”

Despite the fact that the UI didn’t offer an architecture major, Yang found his professors in both engineering and art highly capable of providing comprehensive information about architecture — both the educational regimen and the profession. “The transition from a civil engineer to an architect was not easy, but my academic advisors, Professor Colby Swan from engineering and Professor Lynne Lanning from art, guided me through the process of setting up my path to architecture. Monica Correia, my professor in 3D design, led me into the field of design. A lot of her comments and critiques are still inspiring me. Barbara Mooney, my architecture history professor, was more than generous and patient, when I reached out to her for information about architecture beyond the classroom.” Yang says he thinks about his Iowa professors with emotions of happiness, gratitude and nostalgia. 

After earning dual bachelor’s degrees in engineering and art from Iowa in 2014, Yang earned a master’s degree in architecture from Columbia University. Currently, he is working on passing the registration exams and becoming a licensed architect in the state of New York, while working full-time at Studio Joseph. “As an undergraduate who wanted to become an architect, I felt lucky to study on the Iowa campus, where world-class construction and renovation projects were happening.  The UI continues to invest more in improving its educational and research facilities, and I hope someday I can work on a design project for my alma mater.”

Shuo Yang, design team member for the Manhattan Pet Adoption Center

Shuo Yang was part of the design team for the Manhattan Pet Adoption Center; photo credit: Studio Joseph

New Glass Now exhibition at the Corning Glass Museum

Shuo Yang was part of the design team for the "New Glass Now" exhibition at the Corning Museum of Glass; photo credit: Alex Fradkin, photographer