Louisa Zheng (she/her/her's) is an architectural designer and artist interested in the mediation of physical spaces. Compelled by the sociopolitical frameworks that concretize into built environments and lived experiences, she works in various media such as community participatory processes, mapping, material studies, and other modes of documentation and design.
Currently Louisa is a designer at Latent Design, a progressive architecture, urbanism and interiors firm leveraging civic innovation and social impact to design more equitable spaces and systems. She is the cofounder of WHORL, an alternative book club and research project exploring the meandering exchange of creative labor. Most recently, Louisa has worked as co-organizer and operations advisor to Chicago Textile Week 2019 and 2021, as well as one of two Spring 2021 Engagement and Research Fellows at City Open Workshop. Under the pretense of her personal research project, 'baicaidian', Louisa hopes to buy a building to house friends and all of their cats.
2018 - 2020
Wright Heerema Architects
Led projects from test fit through contract administration and coordinated directly with client on implementing brand standards and design presentations:
Winter 2019 - in construction
4,000 SF conference center & office renovation
600 SF office renovation
Fall 2019 - Winter 2019
4,000 SF office renovation
Fall 2019 - Spring 2020
940 SF office renovation
Summer 2019 - Spring 2020
10,000 SF showroom & office build-out
Fall 2019 - in construction
19,000 SF showroom & office build-out
Spring 2020 - Summer 2020
4,300 SF showroom & office build-out
2019 - ongoing
Around the corner from friendly main entrances or perhaps just beyond decorative parapets of any building, you'll certainly find peering out these mundane units and vents. These eruptions from the building surface indicate hidden networks of ductwork huffing and whirring air through the building interior. HVAC observes these grimy creatures poking out of architecture, designed to be hidden and as small as possible, and chuckles at how each one's utilitarian needs create unique and silly forms.
2019 - ongoing
Risograph prints, cyanotypes, collage
Material Prints is an ongoing project that documents the bricks, metal, timber, plastic, and other frameworks that make up our physical spaces. These passing materials are so commonplace we glaze over their textures and colors, but they still inform our understanding of the spaces we occupy. Within them, the specifics of investment and sociopolitical histories have left their wear, generically signaling designed biases of class, labor, power. Experimenting with Risograph and cyanotype printing, these images draw an unfamiliarity out of ordinary visuals, asking viewers to linger on the grout lines and shadows.
EVERY BUILDING IN WASHINGTON PARK
2017 - pause
Photo, collage, collaborative
Since the 1950’s, white flight and disinvestment has left the Chicago South Side neighborhood Washington Park with acres of empty city blocks, transforming the area into an open, almost rural landscape. Despite the abundant neighborhood amenities available such as direct access to the Red and Green train lines, the neighborhood's namesake Washington Park itself, and a short distance to the lake, the neighborhood continues to see public and private investment diverted elsewhere.
Every Building in Washington Park proposes a visual archive for the ever changing building stock and intimate histories of their occupants. Future goals include supporting the development of an accessible, open-source database, which can be accessible in a variety of formats—exhibits, websites, pamphlets, etc. The ability to encourage wide participation allows the visual archive to become a living teaching tool and cultural resource for neighbors and local activists.
The initial research for the project began under Ellen Grimes for ARCH 4031 Studio 5 in Fall 2017 with BFA students Jakky Figueroa (BFA 17), Ian Wong (BFA 18), Axel Olson (BFA 18), Sharlene Yulita (BFA 17), Mauricio Casian (BFA 18), Jessica Moon (BFA 18), Carrie Jim (BFA 18), and Louisa Zheng (BFA 18). This incomplete photo collection was compiled in the fall of 2017; buildings shown are not reflective of the current building stock in Washington Park.
ArcMaps, public engagement
In 2017, the City of Raleigh Planning and Development department commit to holding 100 public meetings and events within 100 days in a city-wide effort for improving government and public relations and civic transparency. We brainstormed a variety of pop-up formats such as Meet the Planners, to help explain what the Planning arm does versus the Urban Design Center and to foster feedback and public questions.
Each project utilized map visualizations, diagrams, mood boards, and other imagery to ground conversations, but also heavily centered around the preparation for public interactions and running the events.
Proposal, collaborative project with Carrie Jim (BFA Architecture '18)
Peeling back the urban surface, Catalyst reveals the network of invisible systems that shapes daily life crossing through the Michigan Ave and Cermak Rd intersection. Existing between the hazy boundaries of invisible territories: aldermanic wards 25, 3, and 4; zoning districts residential and mixed-use; neighborhoods South Loop, Near South Side, Chinatown, Prairie District, Bronzeville, and the newly formed McCormick Square; and development projects Harold Ickes mixed-income housing, McCormick Convention Center and related high-rise hotels and arena, the Green-line McCormick stop, and landmark district Motor Row; the project spatially mediates the implications of the clashing socio-politico-economic agendas.