Chang-Yeon Cho, Gensler New York
Chang-Yeon Cho, Gensler New York

Gensler Voices: Chang-Yeon Cho, Gensler New York

This Q&A is part of a series of interviews with Gensler architects, designers, and others in the firm about their career journey, and the impact that design and architecture can have on our communities and the human experience. Here, we sit down with Chang-Yeon Cho, Design Analytics Lead, Gensler New York:

What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?

It is a time to reflect on how the AAPI community is evolving. The previous generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders made enormous sacrifices to support future generations’ success, in part, by narrowly defining what success means in society. The next generation needs to challenge this notion and have a more active conversation about what diversity and inclusion mean for the AAPI community.

What was an early experience that influenced your career?

I had diverse subject interests in college. I started in engineering, but wanted to celebrate the ambiguity in humanity. That’s why I ended up choosing architecture, but I did not stop there. I explored anthropology, art history, business, and information architecture toward the end of my college days. I didn’t know at the time, but the foundation I built then gave me enough knowledge to keep learning all the time, thanks to the internet, where you have to know what to look for to unlock knowledge.

How has your career shaped your understanding of the world?

My career aligned with the breakout technologies that fundamentally changed the way we live. My work has always been about expanding the agency of creative thinking. I genuinely believe future innovation is not about having the most advanced technology, but bringing creative approaches that can orchestrate deeper knowledge about the world and apply it to solve the most challenging problems. We need to think beyond the built environment. I believe we have an opportunity to bring a creative view with a deeper understanding of who we are and who we should be as humans, and leverage these discoveries to transform our environment, economics, and experiences we share.

How can architecture and design can advance wellness, equity, and inclusion?

Architecture is a spatial language, but it is about understanding the system, scales, and hierarchy. We should think about how our built environment impacts the system, map dependencies, and explore different ways to solve problems to help us navigate these complex problems with nuance, delicacy, and empathy.

What role does architecture and design play in shaping the minds of the future generations?

The next decade will be about technology beyond the app, where technology will be everywhere. It will be both virtual and physical, local and global. This world is both exciting and highly disorienting. Architecture and design will have to play a more significant role as it is a lens through which we see the world. Good design will go beyond providing a good experience. It will help us anchor ourselves by curating a place to engage, interact, and share experiences in multiple ways.

The most important thing I've learned as an architect/designer is...

We are always curious. Therefore, we always seek to expand new ways to see the world.

Name a building or space that every designer should see in person.

Every designer should see the Salk Institute and Kimbell Art Museum.

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