Year graduated from UIUC: M.Arch (2015), BSAS (2013)
Firm where employed: HDR Architecture - Toronto, ON
Your Title: Architectural Coordinator
What are you working on these days?
Before answering about what I am currently working on, I’d like to start with where I am working. After graduating from ISoA, I lived in Chicago which had become my dream city to establish architectural career. While in the graduate program, I became interested in the healthcare design among other things. Through various courses and seminars offered at ISoA I was able to build a relationship with HDR that served as a teaching office for the healthcare studio. I went on to work for HDR Chicago office after graduating from the M.Arch program. About a year ago I transferred to HDR Toronto due to the US immigration status. At the time of transition I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this journey. Along with the geographic relocation, I experienced a rather significant shift on the project types from healthcare to EST (education, Science and Technology) and it has been very enjoyable.
Back to answering the question, I am currently working on four buildings for Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) which is in process of revitalizing its campus and infrastructure. My involvement with CNL ranges from supporting concept and schematic designs for Advanced Nuclear Materials Research Centre; Business and Innovation Hub - an administrative building with data center, library and wellness programs; Main Gate and Logistics Building; and Support/Maintenance Facility. In addition to these projects, I am partly working on a new academic facility for Foods and Nutrition program in Western Ontario as well as providing occasional support for healthcare projects in Toronto. Recently, I also participated in a design competition for Warming Huts, which was quite different from my routine work in terms of the scale and type.
I truly believe that ISoA has provided the best education for me by laying the foundation of my architectural knowledge and by fostering creative and resilient mind. These assets prepared me to confidently meet the unexpected but nonetheless welcome challenges in practice and life. - Min Hoo Kim
How well did ISoA prepare you for what you’re doing now?
I truly believe that ISoA has provided the best education for me by laying the foundation of my architectural knowledge and by fostering creative and resilient mind. These assets prepared me to confidently meet the unexpected but nonetheless welcome challenges in practice and life. ISoA offered many opportunities to articulate and test my academic interests; as a student, I wanted to explore integrative design, social aspects of architecture, and healthcare design. ISoA excelled at providing well-rounded and comprehensive understanding in Architecture with enough latitude to strive for your own goals. Thanks to what I’ve learned in these formative years, I now enjoy the processes of collaborating with planners on interpreting programs into design, with engineers on coordinating building systems, and with other designers on advancing the architecture of a project. Needless to say, I am still very young in my career and look forward to growing in this profession.
Being able to collaborate with others is not a choice but a must. - Min Hoo Kim
What one piece of advice would you give to our current architecture students?
Instead of pointing out what could be the best subject or software to learn next semester, I’d like to share advice that I would have given myself if I were to go back in time. As a student, I wasn’t always happy with having so many group-assignments and team projects - for instance, four out of the five design studios I’ve taken in the M.Arch were of group-projects. My then complaint of having to work with others (no offence to my old friends, they are great people) turned out to be a blessing in the professional setting. I was confident that I could do well alone in these academic projects. In practice, I realized that there are not many projects, especially in bigger scales, in which a single person can handle every aspect on his/her own. Being able to collaborate with others is not a choice but a must. Overtime, I’ve also learned that having confidence alone can be very dangerous. With humility and confidence combined, you can learn from others and the respect from your colleagues will follow. We could be complacent having particular strengths in one or more areas. But having the positive attitude can go a long way and permeate through various tasks, positions, and situations regardless of your age or skill level.
Another more practical piece of advice is to pay closer attention to learning the architecture history beyond aiming at good grades. Architects do often communicate with precedents from the past and present and you wouldn’t want to be the clueless guy in the room.
Name something you miss about school?
Long summer breaks, friends, professors, studios, and the memories from studying abroad in Versailles, France.
I was very fortunate to have met many great professors at ISoA who were genuinely interested in the growth of individual students far beyond routine coursework. - Min Hoo Kim
Something you don’t miss about school?
The long distance relationship with my then girlfriend who lived in Korea. I ended it by marrying her. Problem solving skill at work in real life!
Did you have a favorite professor? Who was it and why?
I was very fortunate to have met many great professors at ISoA who were genuinely interested in the growth of individual students far beyond routine coursework. I feel that these interactions and mentorship from the faculty helped not only building the knowledge but also developing strengths in character. Three professors were especially influential - Dr. Michael Kim, who helped me form a comprehensive understanding of architecture by imparting fundamental principles; Professor Randy Deutsch, who has been exceptionally supportive from the moment I met him in my senior year when I was unsure about continuing with architectural studies; Professor William Worn, who inspired me on professionalism and building a meaningful career.
If you could go back and do college over what would you do differently and why?
I would have spent more time with friends. I often limited myself from enjoying social time before finishing the work or project. It seems there is no clear end to work and you just need to find a work-life balance. I would also have taken more courses outside architecture.