When designing, one may often hear the phrase “Think outside of the box.” Sunghwan finds this a bit amusing because his work at Perkins Eastman involves creating boxes for others in seemingly empty spaces. Sometimes, his projects don’t have defined boundaries. We have to set those boundaries ourselves, he says, through factors such as program and budget. The projects he’s undertaken at Perkins Eastman have never been about finding the right materials at the right price within the zoning laws of a given piece of land. Sunghwan has faced unexpected floods exceeding century-old predictions and been thrown into places where no one can predict what will happen 30 years from now. “Think outside of the box?” He is in the business of creating the framework for others to do whatever they need to do. He must advocate for tearing down highways built thoughtlessly 40 years ago and propose community spaces for events that may occur 50 years in the future, possibly with sketches he’s made, he notes,“but I might not live to see the result.”
Our Perkins Eastman
Sunghwan participates in the Pineapple Express, Perkins Eastman’s firmwide urban design committee. He also sees his biggest role within the firm as that of a teacher; because Perkins Eastman’s urban-design methods aren’t formally taught in any school, he enjoys teaching them to new designers entering the practice.