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Architectural Engineering '90 Alum’s Firm Gives to the Hassan Ali Scholarship Fund in Memory of Fellow Architect, Friend, and Mentor

Robert Hutchinson headshot

January 31, 2021

Robert Hutchison is a practitioner, researcher and educator whose interests and practice overlap the fields of architecture, art and photography. In 1996, Hutchison received a MArch degree from the University of Washington, and in 1990, received a BS in Civil Engineering and a BS in Architectural Engineering from Drexel University, where he met his wife Mary Hutchison (BS Graphic Design ’90), Owner & Creative Director, Mary Hutchison Design. In 2013, Hutchison established Robert Hutchison Architecture (RHA), an architecture studio specializing in the design of contemporary projects that balance beautiful, inspiring space with economic, pragmatic solutions. Hutchison is an Affiliate Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington, where he teaches architectural design studios at the undergraduate and graduate levels. His honors and awards include a Creative Artists Fellowship awarded by the Japan-US Friendship Commission and National Endowment for the Arts (awarded in 2010 and 2020), the 2016-2017 Rome Prize in Architecture awarded by the American Academy in Rome, and the 2009 Emerging Voices award from The Architectural League of New York. Most recently, Robert Hutchison Architecture, in collaboration with local firm JSa, received the 2020 Residential Architect Design Award (RADA) for the Rain Harvest Home, a custom home built in Temascaltepec, Mexico.

Hutchison’s fondest memories from his time at Drexel include the architectural classes that he took as part of the Architectural Engineering program, and his co-op experience at the PSFS Facilities Department, where he met and befriended the architect Hassan Ali.

Hutchison attributes his decision to change his career from engineering to architecture largely in part to Hassan Ali, an Architecture student who passed away while attending Drexel. Hassan was gifted in drawing and was a very talented technical draftsman. “He taught me that the act of drawing is part of thinking, that it serves as a way to translate the ideas from inside your head into a visual clarification of what you were actually thinking in the first place. In this way, drawing is fundamental to a creative process,” said Hutchison. “Hassan was an incredibly patient, thoughtful and beautiful person. His death while I was still at Drexel had a deep impact on me.”

Hutchison’s small but mighty firm now finds itself in a place financially where they can contribute to causes that are meaningful to them. When he learned of the Hassan Ali Scholarship, a fund established in his memory to benefit a matriculated minority student displaying the greatest promise in architecture, “It was a no-brainer,” Hutchison stated. “While I am honored that my firm is donating to a scholarship fund in Hassan’s memory, I realize this is just a small contribution to a problem that our profession needs to address in many more ways. More firms need to fund scholarships such as these so that we can make the profession one that is accessible to anyone regardless of race, class, gender or sexual orientation.”

If you would like to support the Hassan Ali Scholarship or any of the funds that support Westphal students, please click here. Should you have questions about making a gift, please contact Nik Kozel at or 215.895.0268.