In 2003, friends Wai and My sat down for coffee and hatched a plan to start a firm on their own. With no business plan, no projects and no clients on sight, but with their sheer determination to work hard and make it succeed, they set out to have fun doing what they love doing the most, architecture. They had no idea where their journey was going to take them, but they took a leap of faith that their experience, skills and work ethics will lead them to success.
Their first client responded to their first marketing mailer, which was homemade and hand pasted together. The client, a school district, needed a design for a standalone men’s toilet for their adult school. The district was so impressed with their design and response that they proceeded with remodeling all other toilets to look like the original.
One of their early ventures included a community service project to assist in the re-building of a local shelter for Restore, A Renewal Center for Women. The original home was destroyed by a fire and needed a major remodel and expansion to provide a much needed safe haven for women and children of domestic violence. With their limited budget, Wai and My worked closely with the organization to design a beautiful home that not only provided the required functional spaces, but a place where clients can feel safe and respected. This endeavor also required close coordination with many generous corporate and individual donors who contributed to the success of the project.
They spent their first few years designing a myriad of diverse project types including commercial, residential, hospitality and K-12 education; but as the years went on, they made a decision to return to a building type that was close to their hearts. Wai and My met while working on the UCLA Ronald Reagan Hospital and had worked exclusively on healthcare projects until they founded their own firm. Healthcare presented the kind of challenges that they relished and provided opportunities to design spaces that influenced how the built environment contributed to the healing process.
With this new pursuit, they embarked on a new marketing campaign to break into a field that was highly specialized and dominated by established architectural firms. Their background in healthcare design gave then the confidence needed to prove that they could deliver quality design with efficient execution. They reached out to many healthcare organizations and Kaiser Permanente provided them their first opportunity to which they responded and delivered. These early successes led to continuous repeat work with this organization.
Their philosophy is to focus on the client, the project, and doing the job right. Their guiding principle is to treat each project with personal care, to listen and pay attention to details. Their goal is to make every single project a success. Their clients know that they can rely on them regardless of the complexities of their projects, that they are a resource to them and can be counted on to provide creative and innovative solutions.
“When we started our firm, we never imagined how far we could go. We are thankful to our clients, our colleagues, and our family and friends who believed in us and helped us get to where we are today.”
We have come a long ways since that faithful day when we met for coffee and we are very proud of how much we have accomplished since. We have built our firm one client at a time, one relationship at a time. What we find more satisfying than our success stories are the lasting relationships we have built along the way. It is truly rewarding to hear compliments and receive appreciation for a work well done. And we have many such success stories. We have an amazing team of staff and consulting engineers who are dedicated, talented and succeed in accomplishing their work with the high expectation and demands of our profession.
In our journey, we have never lost sight of the importance of balancing our careers with family. As women entrepreneurs and women in architecture, it is always a challenge to juggle the demands of clients and projects with the demands of a mother and wife. Despite the obstacles within this path, we have always sought ways to balance our lives and ensure that there is joy in what they do best.