Born in Shanghai, Hu Hung-Shu immigrated to Taiwan with his family in 1949. He graduated from the National Cheng Kung University in 1959 with a bachelor's degree in architecture and decided to continue his studies in the United States. In 1966, Hu received an MFA degree in design from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI and started teaching at the University Of Northern Iowa. Two years later, Hung-Shu became a professor and head of design at the School of Art and Art History at University of Iowa and remained at this position until the honorable retirement in 2003.
In 1994, he worked on the River Corridor Design Guidelines for the Quad City Riverfront Council, USA. Hung-Shu also collaborated with the Taipei City Department of Urban Development as a public art consultant in 1996–97.