School of Architecture College of Design

Renée Cheng, Professor and Associate Dean of Research

Renée Cheng

Professor and Associate Dean of Research

Director, Master of Science in Architecture, Research Practices concentration and Consortium for Research Practices

External Liaison, Virtual Reality Design Lab (VRDL)


Phone: (612) 625-1885

Renee Cheng


Renée Cheng is a graduate of Harvard’s GSD and Harvard College. A registered architect, her professional experience includes work for Pei, Cobb, Freed and Partners and Richard Meier and Partners before founding Cheng-Olson Design. She taught at the University of Michigan and the University of Arizona before joining the faculty at the University of Minnesota. She has been recognized for teaching excellence with numerous teaching awards and appears on national lists of influential educators.

Her research involves documenting case studies of buildings that integrate design with emerging technologies. Her current work in Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is published by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and new research on collaborative projects by the General Services Administration (GSA) has just begun. Previously, she tracked large-scale projects by Frank Gehry and Associates as well as smaller scale CAD-CAM work done by firms such as SHoP Architects, A.R.O. and Tripyramid, focusing on how innovative technology drives change in both design and construction processes. She has widely published on these topics including editing a new chapter on Computing Technology for Architectural Graphic Standards.

Professor Cheng has also written on the topic of architectural education in the context of emerging practices and technology. These writings have appeared in the 2015 GSA report on Integrated High Performing Buildings, 2006-2012 AIA Report on Integrated Practice and the Education Summit at ACADIA in 2004. A recent publication published by Yale is entitled “Facing the Fact of BIM”.

In numerous roles, she has served the ACSA and AIA as an advisor on how Integrated Practice affects the future of architectural curricular and professional practice.


  • Design pedagogy
  • Emerging technologies in construction
  • Future trends and current innovation in professional practice

Honors & Awards

2017     American Institute of Architects College of Fellows, elevated to member of College of Fellows for contributions to practice education; less than 1% of AIA members recognized with this honor; only about a dozen were recognized for their expertise in architectural education

2017     Lean Construction Institute Faculty Award, $10,000 research support funds and advisor status given to seven faculty considered leading in Lean research. Only architect and only woman of the group of seven

2015     ACSA/AIA Practice Leadership Award, for the course Building Stories developed by Renée Cheng and Laura Lee

2014     Center for Teaching and Learning, Recognition of Curricular Innovation; BDA degree program chosen as one of three most innovative undergraduate degrees at the University of Minnesota. Program developed by Renée Cheng and Sharon Roe

2012      NCARB Honorable Mention, special consideration for bridging academy and practice for Master of Science in Research Practices

2011      Design Intelligence "25 Most Admired Educators" Named an educational role model based on nationally gathered input from faculty, students, professionals in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Design and Product Design

2010      Design Intelligence "25 Most Admired Educators"

2009      AIA Minnesota President First full time academic to be elected. AIA MN is among the nation's largest and most active components of the AIA

2009      AIA Latrobe Prize Finalist competitively selected as finalist for $100,000 Latrobe research prize

2008      AIA Education Honor Award for "Incomplete Curriculum for Transformation"; one of five member team for curricular reform of professional curriculum

2000      AIA Arizona Educator Award; nominated and awarded by the AIA Arizona

1998      Cass Gilbert Visiting Professorship; nominated and selected by the University of Minnesota.

1997      New Faculty Teaching Award; awarded by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)

Grants & Contracts

       Principal Investigator total grant funding awarded: $1,118,000

2017-present   Co-Principal Investigator: Five-year contract for $100,0000-$300,000 annually from US General Services Administration (GSA) for Learning from Our Legacy case study program. Co-PI with Carrie Sturts Dossick from University of Washington Construction Management Department; focus of case studies is on collaboration.

2017-present   Core Group Member: $150,000 Grant from Pankow Foundation, Integrated Project Delivery Alliance (IPDA)and Center for Innovation in Design and Construction to develop, structure and execute an IPD guide.

2017-present   Principal Investigator: $25,000 Grant from Lean Construction Institute (LCI) to study owners' validation processes and outcomes.

2016-present   Principal Investigator: $175,000 Grant from GSA to study collaborative practices supporting high performing buildings for GSA and other federal agencies.

2015-2017      Principal Investigator: $250,000 Grant co-sponsored by LCI and IPDA for case studies of Integrated Project Delivery and Lean processes in building industry..

2015-2017     Principal Investigator: $75,000 Grant sponsored by GSA for teaching materials and other follow up training for GSA based on high performing buildings.

2015               Principal Investigator: $10,000 Grant sponsored by IPDA for largest survey of adoption and satisfaction for projects using integrated project delivery. Published in National Institute of Building Science proceedings on Productivity and Workforce in Building Industry.

2013-2015    Principal Investigator: $150,000 Grant sponsored by GSA for case studies of 11 GSA collaborative contracted projects.

2011-2013    Principal Investigator: $150,000 Grant for case studies of 11 GSA collaborative contracted projects.

2011- 2012   Co-Principal Investigator: $10,000 Grant sponsored by HGA Architects for use of Immersive Virtual Reality to study patient room design.

2012              $8,000 Dean's Initiative Grant sponsored by College of Design for development of Research Practices degree program and Consortium.

2010-2012    Principal Investigator: $25,000 (2010) $40,000 (2011) Grant sponsored by AIA national and AIA Minnesota for IPD case studies, interactive pdf, primary source research on 5 case studies.

2009-2016    Principal Investigator: Grant from Image Fund, University of Minnesota, $3,000 (2009), $4,000 (2010), $5,000 (2011), $5,000 (2013), and $5,000 (2016) on various topics related to emerging trends in the profession, case studies in practice.

2004-2005   Principal Investigator: $17,000 Grant sponsored by the Steel Tube Institute for case study educational materials.

2000             Co-Principal Investigator: $24,897 Grant sponsored by University of Arizona, Center for Computing & Information Technology for "Web-based Teaching for Visual Learning" (part 2). Development of teaching modules for web-based teaching of construction case studies.

1998             Principal Investigator: $45,000 Grant sponsored by the GSA for "A Real-Time Case Study: Documentation of the Phoenix Federal Courthouse".

1998            Principal Investigator: $15,020 Grant sponsored by University of Arizona, Center for Computing & Information Technology for "Web-based Teaching for Visual Learning" (part 1). Development of teaching modules for web-based teaching of construction case studies.

1998            Principal Investigator: $4,998 Grant sponsored by University of Arizona, Office of Research for "Documenting Emerging Form: Case Studies of Tectonic Buildings".


2017              IPD Guidebook, one of five core group members and authors for this publication; sponsored by Pankow Foundation. Expected publication, 2018

2016              Goat Rodeo: Practicing Built Environments, Daniel Friedman, ed, Phillip Bernstein, Carol Burns, Joe Burns, Renée Cheng, Carrie Dossick, Billie Faircloth, Kiel Moe; CreateSpace/FriedFish Publishing, 2016

2016              Teams Matter: Lessons from ARRA, GSA Region 5 and the American recovery and Reinvestment Act, report on Great Lakes Region GSA Region 5, 11 projects completed under ARRA, GSA website

2015              Integration at Its Finest, report on three high performing Federal Buildings, GSA website, peer reviewed

2015             "IPD: Performance, Expectations and Future Use, Report on Outcomes of a University of Minnesota Survey". in National Institute of Building Science proceedings on Productivity and Workforce in Building Industry

2015             "ARRA Success Stories", Association of General Contractors, Public Private Industry Advisory Board, San Diego, CA

2015             "Performance-based Contracting and Design Excellence: 3 GSA Projects", AIA National Convention, Atlanta, GA, blind peer review selection

2015             "Connecting Education and the Profession Through Research", AIA National Convention, Atlanta, GA, blind peer review selection

2015             "Aligning Around Design and Performance: 3 GSA Cases", Keynote presentation, LCI Design Forum, Chicago, IL

2014             "Curricular Innovation in Architecture Education", Deans for Impact (Deans of Colleges of Education), Los Angeles, CA

2013             "Research Practices in Architectural Education", NCARB Region 4, Educators Summit, Minneapolis, MN

2011              "IPD Case Studies". Web-publication, Center for Integrated Practice, AIA.

2010              "Facing the Fact of BIM: Architectural Curricula Past, Present and Future". Building Information Modeling, Implications for Architectural Pedagogy. ed. P. Bernstein and P. Deamer. New Haven: Yale

2007             "Computing Technologies." Edited new chapter in Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th edition, ed. A. Pressman, 932-956. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

2007             "Can BIM Inspire New Directions in Architectural Education?". In Fresh Air: Proceedings of the ACSA Ninety Fifth Annual Meeting Held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 2007, 455-460. Washington, DC: ACSA.

2006             "Suggestions for an Integrative Education." In AIA Integrated Practice Report, eds. N.Strong, D.Friedman, M.Broshar, essay 5, Washington, DC: AIA.

2006             Getting Real: Design Ethos Now: Proceedings of the ACSA Ninety Fourth Annual Meeting, eds. R. Cheng, P.Tripeny. Washington, DC: ACSA.

2004             "Architectural Education in the Age of Digitization." In Evolving Tools, Evolving Ideas: Education Summit of the Association of Computer Aided Design in Architecture, ed. A. Tempkin, 11-13, Waterloo, Canada: ACADIA.

2004             "Case Catalysts: Using Case Examples in Design Teaching." Proceedings of ACSA/AIA Cranbrook Teachers Seminar (Research Track), eds. L.Lee, H.Fraker, M.Malecha, R.Green, 3-5. Washington, DC: AIA.

2003             "The Sheer Opacity of Contemporary Enclosure." Journal of Architectural Education 57, no. 2 (2003): 11-17.

2001             "The Evolution of Skins: A Case Study Comparison of Three Gehry Projects." In Skins, Where Design and Technology Meet: Proceedings of the ACSA Technology Conference Held in Austin, Texas, 2001, 23-26. Washington, DC: ACSA.

2000             "Master Architect Redux: How Digital Progress Helped Restore the Role of the Master Architect." In Paradoxes of Progress: Architecture and Education in a Post-Utopian Era: Proceedings of the ACSA Eighty Ninth Annual Meeting Held in Baltimore, Maryland, March 2000, 488-494. Washington, DC: ACSA.


2017            "Cracking the Code: Lean and Design", LCI Congress National Conference, Anaheim, CA, peer review selection. presented with John Haymaker (Perkins + Will) and Mackenzie Skene (NBBI)

2017            "Motivation and Means: How and Why IPD and Lean Succeed", COAA National Conference, St. Louis, MO, peer review selection

2017            "The Business Case for Lean and IPD", CURT National Conference, Chandler, AZ, peer review selection. Also presented at AGC Building Division National Conference, Las Vegas, NV, peer review selection

2017             "Teams Matter: A Study in Collaboration", CURT National Conference, Chandler, AZ, peer review selection

2017             "Leading Practices", series of lectures and workshops. School of Sustainability (SOS), Bologna, Italy. School connected to Mario Cucinnelli Architects, Bologna

2016            "Embedding a Risk Mitigation Strategy Early in the Project Delivery Process", presented with Laura Stagner, GSA, Construction Managers Association of America, Fall Meeting in San Diego, CA, peer review selection

2016           "The Importance of an Integrated Design in Creating High Performance Green Buildings", presented by Laura Stagner, GSA, BECC, Baltimore, MD, peer review selection

2016          "Change Agents", presented with Karen Robichaud, Caroline James, EQxD, San Francisco, CA, peer review selection

2016          "Can We Build a Perfect Team: Integrated Project Delivery and Collaborative Practices", presented with Markku Allison, Scan Consulting, New Frontiers in Construction Conference, Construction Education Research Center

2016           "GSA's Quest to Build a Perfect Team", presented with Charles Hardy, GSA, Construction Owners Association of America, Spring Meeting

2011           "IPD: What Practitioners Know" Panel on Integrated Education: What Educators Should Know, ACSA Annual Meeting, Montreal

2011           "Industry Trends and Attitudes toward New Collaborative Contracting Approaches" Panel at Symposium on Building Better Construction Contracts: Tailoring Incentives, Creating Collaboration and Developing Effective Risk Allocation, Practice Law Institute, New York

2011           "Building Stories", AIA Minnesota Convention, Minneapolis, MN

2011          "IPD: What We Know..and Don't Know" speaker at Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) National conference on IPD and Lean, San Antonio, TX

2010           "When Fingers Start Pointing: Allocating and Insuring Risks in Integrated Project Delivery" co-presented with Kevin Collins, Schinnerer. AIA Minnesota Convention, MN



2011           "Sketches from Breuer's St. John's Abbey" special exhibition for 50th anniversary of Abbey Church, St. John's University, Collegeville, MN

2006           "Traveling, Seeking, Seeing: Recent Sketches." Faculty Exhibition Series. College of Design Library. University of Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN. Invited solo exhibition.

Courses Taught

                        CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT

2017-present   Co-instructor with Andrea Johnson, Inclusive Leadership curriculum, including intercultural developmental index, implicit bias and inclusive leadership. Collaboration with Human Resource experts from the Consortium of Research Practices firms

2015-present   Primary instructor, Advanced Professional Practice required for Master of Science in Research Practices students, focused on emerging practice and practice research

2015-present   Primary instructor, Final Project required for Master of Science in Research Practices students, focused on applied research practice

2008-present   Primary instructor, Professional Practice required course for 50 students, co-taught with professional architect Vincent James, using case study material developed in research

2008-present   Building Stories, developed and coordinate innovative practice elective

Previous teaching includes Construction Systems, Design Studio (all levels), Design Fundamentals (undergrad), Drawing, seminars on tectonics and case studies



2017-present  Member NCARB Data Collection Advisor Panel

2017-present  Member, Equity by Design (EQxD) Survey Focus Group

2017-present  Member, Harvard Graduate School of Design Alumni Council

2016-present  Chair, Research Committee, Lean Construction Institute

2016-present  Advisory Board, ACARA Challenge, interdisciplinary international program based at University of Minnesota, Institute on the Environment

2014-present  Advisory Board for Architecture Student's Handbook of Professional Practice, Bradford Perkins Ed, Wiley. expected publication 2016

2016-2017      ACSA Governance Task Force on Leadership

2015-2017      ACSA Data Task Force on Metrics

2015-2017      AIA MN Strategic Plan Work Group

2014-2016      Facilitator, Catalyst for Change (C4C) change process, first use of John Koetter's Accelerate methodology applied to higher education. Proposed and coordinated year-long comprehensive culture change for College of Design. Coached as facilitator by David Carder from Koetter International

2014-2016      Member, Continuity Group for Strategic Planning, University of Minnesota, advisory to Provost

2014-2015      AIA Culture Collective, one of 40 member group charged with instigation and modeling change for organization. Led Firm Culture sub-group, followed Koetter's Accelerate methodology

2014                Co-chair, Grand Challenge Curriculum Workgroup for Strategic Planning, University of Minnesota, report incorporated into University plan

2014                Chair, Re-engineering Public-Private Partnerships for the Office of Vice-Provost for Research Strategic Plan, Five Years Forward, University of Minnesota

2013-2015      Member, University Workgroup for Strategic Planning, University of Minnesota, selected advisor to President on University mission and goals, Chaired by Provost

2004-2014      Head, School of Architecture




Project Delivery Method Tool now in use by GSA

Project Delivery Method (PDM) selection tool launched b y GSA in February 2017. Renée Cheng was asked to advise by applying findings from the integration at Its Finest report. Click for more information on the PDM tool!

Faculty Work

Integrated Project Delivery: An Action Guide for Leaders (2018)

Motivation and Means: How and Why IPD and Lean Lead to Success (2016)

Over a year in the making — the report Motivation and Means: How and Why IPD and Lean Lead to Success presents a study of ten recent successful building projects in the United States and Canada using an integrated form of agreement. The yearlong, in-depth study focused on the questions of how and why are integrated project delivery (IPD) and Lean effective. Our conclusion is that IPD sets the terms and provides the motivation for collaboration; Lean provides the means for teams to optimize their performance and achieve project goals.

This is one of the only reports on IPD and Lean to include primary source research reported in the form of information graphics covering commercial and legal teams as well as team communication.





The largest survey on IPD, covering 59 projects and over 100 individuals using multiparty agreements (2015–2016):





New Case Studies (2016) - Teams Matter: GSA Region 5 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act





New Case Studies (2015) - Integration at its Finest: Case studies of 3 GSA high performing buildings





A Better Path to Licensure through Research Practices (2013)





AIA/AIAMN/UMN IPD Case Studies (2011)

  • One of the first comparative studies of IPD





Podcast Interview on the Future of Education(2010)

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