Li Hou

Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design

Li Hou is Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She teaches Comparative Planning Regulations in the spring semester, and assists the chair, program director, and coordinator with the UPD administration support responsibilities.

Hou is a planning scholar, educator, and practitioner with rich experiences. Her research interest lies at the intersection of history and theory of urban and regional planning, planning regulations, and spatial politics. She has authored over 50 book chapters and articles in scholarly journals and regularly contributes to urban and planning issues in public media. Her first English book, Building for Oil: Daqing and the Formation of the Chinese Socialist State (Harvard Asia Center, 2018, reprinted in 2021) received the 2020 First Book Prize for the Most Innovative Book in Planning History, awarded by the International Planning History Society. The SDX Joint Publishing Company 三联书店 will publish the Chinese version in 2024. Other noteworthy books published in Chinese include Richard Paulick in Shanghai, 1933-1949: The Postwar Planning and Reconstruction of a Modern Chinese Metropolis (Tongji University Press, 2016), An Academic History in China’s Urban and Rural Planning Discipline (book chapters, China Science and Technology Press, 2018).

Before joining Harvard, Dr. Li Hou held the position of Professor of Urban Planning at Tongji University and served as the Ph.D. program director at the Department of Urban and Rural Planning. She has been a research affiliate at the MIT Sustainable Urbanization lab since 2023 and was a Harvard-Yenching Coordinate Research Scholar from 2014 to 2015. In practice, Hou has been a registered planner at the Tongji Urban Planning and Design Institute since 2000, an expert member of the Shanghai City Planning Commission since 2012, and the vice secretary-general for the Academic Committee of Regulatory Planning, Urban Planning Society of China, since 2018. In academic services, she is a council member of the International Planning History Society, and a Global Urban History Project board member who chairs the prize committee for emerging scholars. She has served on numerous editorial boards, including China City Planning Review, and is a guest editor for Time + Architecture.

Growing up on an oil field in North China, Hou entered Tongji University to receive her training in architecture and urban planning. She was later awarded the Frank Tsao Chinese Teachers’ Fund to study at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. At Harvard GSD, she received a Master of Design Studies and a Doctor of Design with a concentration in urbanization and housing.