9 Questions with Kim Yao of Architecture Research Office

by
Monograph Team
An interview with Kim Yao, Architecture Research Office.
9 Questions with Kim Yao of Architecture Research Office
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WHAT IS YOUR LENS ON PRACTICE?

I believe in a model of practice grounded in collaboration. With clients, this means listening and working closely together to discern project goals that create a strong foundation for design. Within the office, this means a design process that is open and non-hierarchical, where the best ideas emerge from close analysis and rigorously working the problem.


WHAT IS YOUR TYPICAL WORK WEEK?

Meetings! A highly collaborative process means that we spend significant time in meetings – focused on the office, projects, or other initiatives.


WHAT QUESTIONS ARE TOP OF MIND FOR YOU RIGHT NOW?

How will architecture and urban space continue to be influenced by the pandemic in the long term? Will workplace and educational environments fundamentally evolve to less dense models?


HOW DOES YOUR WORK INFORM YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND VICE VERSA?

Architecture is always changing – as practitioners we continue to learn, improve, and evolve our methods and tools. I think this leads to growth, both personally and for the firm – meaning that my philosophy or approach to practice continues to be informed by the work and vice versa.


WHAT DO YOU GEEK OUT ON?

Diagrams – working through ways to represent ideas, qualities or data through drawing. And materials – varied finishes, textures, patterns, and characteristics for the material palettes we use in our work.


HOW DID YOU GET YOUR PROFESSIONAL START?

I had the good fortune of taking an architectural design studio and history course at the same time in college, and it just clicked for me. And of course those early professors are the ones who were my mentors and first employers, which is one reason that I enjoy teaching – having the opportunity to influence younger generations of architects and designers.


WHAT'S A LESSON YOU DIDN'T LEARN IN SCHOOL?

The business side of practice – I think that just remains very abstract until you have your own firm. And also the dynamics of taking a design and actually implementing it through construction – with field experience and the creative problem solving that’s required in order to build.


WHAT DO YOU LIKE LEAST ABOUT PRACTICE/BUILDING INDUSTRY?

It’s a slow art form, which also means we can be cautious as an industry to embrace new models and techniques because of the associated risks.


WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

Be open-minded – great experience can come from many types of firms and projects.

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