Sho-Ping Chin, FAIA, LEED AP, is a leader in Payette’s healthcare practice. Sho-Ping received her BA and MArch degrees from Princeton University and has been Principal at Payette since 2000. Her projects, which range from academic institutions to community hospitals to charitable services, are noted for their keen sensitivity to the psychological needs of patients, their families and caregivers. In recognition of her national leadership, which included helping to organize the AIA’s Women Leadership Summit in 2009, Sho-Ping was elevated to FAIA in 2010.
Beginnings – What attracted you to architecture and how did you begin your career? Was there an influential experience, or mentor, that helped steer you toward this field?
By the 11th grade, I came to the realization that my anointed career path in the sciences by my parents needed a reassessment for I lacked the acumen or smarts for them. I then looked to my father who ironically is not a scientist but an architect. Although it never crossed my mind to even entertain a pursuit in architecture (because I thought one had to be artistically inclined which I also was not), architecture did intrigue me. Early in my childhood, my father taught at the university in Taiwan; my sisters and I frequently brought dinner to him when he had late night studio sessions. After the delivery, I would linger outside and peer into the studio, immersed in the different exchanges punctuated by laughter and occasional exclamations. I was mesmerized. During family trips to New York and Expo 67 in Montreal, I recall finding it hard to leave the Guggenheim or Habitat 67. I think it happened overnight when I finally put the two together–the next day, I announced to my parents that I wanted to be an architect.
What does “architecture culture” signify to you, and how do you go about contributing to, and/or changing, this culture? What are your hopes and dreams for the future of architecture and the built environment?
I feel that the architecture culture only recently began valuing the collective whole versus singularity. It begins with architecture education which has always espoused the singularity through architecture history and theory pedagogy, further reinforced by the school’s lecture series focusing on the current “in” architect (starchitect). This is also carried out through professional practice with the Pritzker Prize and AIA Gold Medal, which annually recognize an individual’s achievements . Furthermore, how often are we confronted by proposals where a client wants a signature architect to lead the design? As building designs becomes more complex and demanding, I believe this approach has to change. It will take cooperative thinking from multiple minds to achieve creative excellence. This has been demonstrated in my firm through the successful implementation of multiple projects. The recent winners of the AIA Firm Award also exemplify this approach where we see collaborative efforts delivering thoughtful and beautiful architecture.
As for the future of architecture, we have to strategically extend our reach to a wider horizon. We need to publicize and educate the public that good design can make a positive impact to the built environment from the humblest store front and track housing development to the Fairfield Inns and strip malls along highways. The public needs to be made aware that architecture is not elitist and found only in institutional buildings, museums and concert halls.
In addition to reaching out to a broader audience, we also need to expand our skill sets by collaborating with allied fields such as public health, engineering, industrial design and branding strategy to further innovate through design.
Advice for someone interested in entering an architecture-related field?
I don’t want to muddle the truth. First and foremost, one must have love and passion for architecture. This doesn’t have to be innate; it could be cultivated. Second–one must have discipline, dedication, tenacity and a huge dose of FUN. These tenets will surely sustain a successful career.
Favorite site, place, building? Why does this particular location speak to you?
Favorite site: John Hancock Tower – I always look forward to coming back to Boston. By car or plane, the Hancock Tower serves as a beacon signaling that I’ll be home soon.
Favorite place: Paris – I love Paris not so much for the nostalgia but more for the array of urban place-making–the monumentality of Champs Elysees, the vibrancy of Place Beaubourg, the quaint minuscule squares along the side streets off Rue St. Germaine or entering the quiet retreat of a residential complex after opening the massive door along a busy street.
Favorite building: Ronchamp – I have so many favorite buildings but when I saw Ronchamp, I had an out of body and out of mind experience.
All images are courtesy of Payette.