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Dou Zhang Elevated to Fellow by ASLA

Sasaki is pleased to announce Dou Zhang, ASLA co-director of Sasaki’s Shanghai office, will be elevated to Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). This designation is a significant honor within the landscape architecture profession, and Zhang joins a rarefied group of fewer than 1500 Fellows elected since the founding of the ASLA in 1899.

Zhang was nominated by the Boston Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects as a design leader who has demonstrated longstanding and pioneering commitment to furthering the practice of sustainable landscape architecture in the United States and China over decades. 

Her clients recognize Zhang for her ability to fluidly move between vision and fine detail to achieve designs that push the envelope from an integrated design and sustainability perspective. “Dou is a remarkable designer. I worked with her on the Jiading Central Park, Xuhui Runway, Park, and Lujiazui Riverfront projects before. Her design integrated a much broader vision, with meticulously crafted details through site implementation,” said Jiwen Sun, former Mayor of Jiading, Xuhui and Pudong Districts of Shanghai, a repeat client of Zhang’s. “She is also a strong promoter of sustainability. Her design work and project stewardship exemplifies genuine care for the environment and people, marking the beginning of the forward-thinking landscape practice in Shanghai.”

Peers commend Zhang for her stewardship in establishing the Shanghai Landscape Forum with AECOM and SWA in 2017, which has only continued to grow as an important professional connector for global designers practicing in China. “Dou has been the driving force and prime advocate for establishing closer ties with the American Society of Landscape Architects,” said Lee Parks, Director and Landscape Practice Leader, AECOM Shanghai.

“I am so honored to be elevated as an ASLA Fellow this year. Landscape architecture is such an overarching profession that pulls many parts of the built environment together and links them with nature. Its impact on a place can be transformative,” reflected Zhang upon hearing news of her elevation to fellow. “The profession has led me to much broader horizons beyond project sites. Moving forward, I will continue striving to achieve new heights and educating the next generation of professionals. I sincerely hope that, like the profession itself, I can use my designs to spur on change in our environments and society.”

“The profession has led me to much broader horizons beyond project sites...I sincerely hope that, like the profession itself, I can use my designs to spur on change in our environments and society.”

Dou Zhang

“Throughout her illustrious career, Dou has been a strong advocate for the impact landscape architecture has on local communities, and for its value to society at large,” says Michael Grove, FASLA, Chair of Landscape Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Ecology. “Her tireless efforts to organize peer landscape architects in China around professional discourse, and her lobbying to have a China chapter recognized by the ASLA are a testament to her dedication and influence. Dou’s project work also speaks for itself, and her recognition as a Fellow is a well-deserved accomplishment.”

Sasaki joins the ASLA in congratulating Dou Zhang on this significant and well-deserved recognition of her outsize contribution to the field of landscape architecture.

Read on to learn more about Zhang’s career and impact.

About Zhang

Growing up in Xi’an, China, a city with a rich history, Zhang spent her childhood by Xi’an’s sublime city walls and royal garden remnants dating from 700 AD. Contextual understandings of a site, which she learned to appreciate from Xi’an’s history, have gone on to greatly influence her design career. She is always motivated to look for inspiration from a site’s geographical regions as well as its evolutions over time. 

Zhang’s rigorous architectural education at Tianjin University laid solid foundations for her spatial composition capabilities as well as Chinese master planning principles like fengshui. Continuing her education with the landscape program at UMass Amherst, Zhang was exposed to a comprehensive education in landscape architecture. 

After graduating in 1998, Zhang started her landscape architecture career at Sasaki’s Watertown Office. She spent her early years building large public parks in the United States before transitioning her focus to public and private planning and design projects in China. She developed a keenness for spatial scales, mastery of material applications, scrutiny of design details, close attention to environmental sustainability, and deep empathy for public welfare and equality. Influenced by the interdisciplinary working culture of the firm and her own background, her landscape design work reached new horizons, prompting her to consider both the project site and places beyond it in a more holistic fashion in her work. 

After designing Sasaki’s largest built project in China, Jiading Central Park, Zhang played a key role in establishing the Sasaki Shanghai Office in 2012, a very different practice from other international and local firms in China. Focusing on design integrity with creativity, sustainability, and construction quality, the office led the evolution of landscape practice in the country. Zhang’s exceptional design work has won the office long lasting relationships with major municipalities in China such as Shanghai and Guangzhou, and top-notch developers in the country, including Vanke, China Resources, and OCT Group, to name a few. 

To Zhang, sustainability is a principle that goes beyond technology. It is also about cultural continuity, social justice, economic growth, and the future of human society. Her design of the Xuhui Runway Park was the first project to ever receive SITES certification in Mainland China, and Sasaki is now regarded as a leading firm in promoting sustainable design.

The design excellence and sustainability of Zhang’s work have earned Sasaki Shanghai many regional, national, and international awards. Most recently, Zhang was recognized with a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) USGBC leadership award. 

A few thanks from Zhang

I am grateful for my mentors, both in school and the workplace. Their design insights and stewardship to the profession nurtured my professional growth in the past decades.

Moreover, I am grateful for my talented colleagues I have had the privilege to work with. Their inspiration and support have been integral to each step of my success.

I am also grateful for my clients, who trusted in my design capabilities and judgement. My design vision could only have been turned into reality with their support.

Finally, I am the most grateful for my parents and my family. Without their relentless support for my career, I could not get to where I am today.

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