Director, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
San Francisco Director
A licensed architect and certified city planner, Ellen Lou leads Urban Design + Planning Group for SOM's San Francisco office. Lou has directed many world-renowned urban design and planning efforts in the United States and the Pacific Rim countries. Her areas of specialization include urban, brownfield reuse, master plans for new towns and communities, historic revitalization, and campus master plans.
Lou is particularly skilled in developing innovative ideas to address challenging urban planning contexts and in guiding development interests to create public benefit. She is keenly interested in promoting sustainable development. Her tenets of sustainable planning include creating pedestrian-friendly and transit-oriented developments, integrating elements of site features with development needs, and engendering a sense of identity rooted in the culture and aspirations of the place.
Lou is also active in civic and educational outreach. She has lectured and served as visiting instructor and guest critic for architecture and urban design courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, North Dakota University, California Academy of Arts, and University of California Berkeley. She has also participated in community workshops and design charrettes organized by the San Francisco Planning Department and the Association of Bay Area Government in East Bay and San Francisco. Lou serves as a board member for San Francisco Urban Planning and Research, as well as on the San Jose Downtown Architecture Review Committee.