In celebration of both past legacies and emerging voices in the arts, the University of Illinois College of Fine and Applied Arts sponsors the FAA Legacy Awards.
These awards recognize college alumni and friends who have demonstrated courage, curiosity, and passion in their work.
Awards honor lifelong learners and advocates, individuals who have impacted their fields in transformative ways—catalysts with distinguished service to the arts. Awarded to FAA alumni who have attained outstanding success and national or international distinction in their chosen profession or life's work and whose accomplishments reflect admirably on, or bring honor to, the College of Fine and Applied Arts and the University of Illinois.
Wei (Windy) Zhao received the Emerging Legacy Award which recognizes FAA alumni early in their careers who have made outstanding professional contributions to their field since graduating.
Wei (Windy) Zhao is an assistant professor in the School of Design at Louisiana Tech University. Zhao received her PhD in architecture in 2015 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a specialization in the social and cultural dimensions of the built environment and a focus on heritage studies. Zhao's dissertation examines the ways in which cultural tradition has affected the physical, psychological, and social constructions of home in vernacular settlements in rural China. Zhao's current research focuses on the built environment of marginalized social groups, particularly the ones living on the urban fringe, examining issues of social justice, equity and sustainability, cultural diversity, and heritage management. Having an interdisciplinary approach, Zhao focuses on the ways in which architecture and our approach to managing everyday cultural practices promote cultural identity, support public interest, engage local communities, maintain social sustainability and social well-being, and enhance the meaning of place.
Zhao has numerous published works in both English and Chinese, including a book in Chinese titled Historic Path of Yanxia (2013). Zhao's second book, Home beyond the House: Transformation of Life, Place, and Tradition in Rural China, will be published by Routledge in November 2022. Based on extended work conducted between 2007 and 2019, including ethnographic fieldwork, building surveys, archival research, and more than 600 photographs taken by residents along with their life stories, this book uncovers the meanings of home from rural residents' perspectives, who belong to a social group that is underrepresented in scholarship and underserved in modern China. In other words, this study empowers rural residents by giving them a voice.
Read the full citation here
Read about all the awardees here
Wei (Windy) Zhao joined SAH in 2011. She received a SAHARA Travel Fellowship in 2012, and an Opler Membership Award for Emerging Professionals in 2016. She was a speaker at the 2019 Annual Conference.