The University of Southern California has named Qingyun Ma, the principal of Shanghai-based architecture firm MADA s.p.a.m., as the new dean of its architecture school. Ma, who is one of the most well-regarded practitioners among the current generation of Chinese architects, replaces Robert Timme, who passed away last October. While Ma has taught at Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania, his largest projects, including a university library, have been in China. The appointment marks a major move and a surprising choice for the university, which has signaled its intentions to increase the national and international profile of its architecture school. Ma beat out other candidates that included Dana Cuff, Peter Pran, and Margaret Crawford (see “Department Heads Wanted,” AN 10_06.07.2006).
“To maintain a critical practice is crucial for a dean, who should cultivate and demonstrate leadership both administratively and pedagogically,” Ma wrote in an email to AN. “My practice through MADA s.p.a.m. will continue and surely undergo some critical transformations,” he added, saying that his office would be dividing into three locations—Xian, Shanghai, and Los Angeles. Part of his Shanghai practice will merge with a local office in Xian, his hometown in the northeast part of China. The Shanghai office will remain as his communications and coordination base among the three, while his Los Angeles outpost will be, as Ma described it, “the innovative/idea nucleus.” His appointment is effective January 1, 2007.