My interest has always been there; however, the voice got louder, and I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
I grew up in the urban center of a small city in Taiwan, where I could hear the school bell ring from my house and play at the riverbank under wooded canopies in the hot summer. My father, a first-generation college graduate, always brought us back to our family farm, where everyone shared the same last name as me. My mom always told us to eat fruit and veggies when they were in season, and my aunt frequently reminded us not to waste food, energy, and water.
I spent my high school years in an affluent and picturesque, primarily white suburb in East Bay, California, living the “the American Dream.” I love my extended family and friends who embraced me and drove me around, but my American suburban experience cemented my pursuit of being an urbanist.
My undergraduate curriculum at UC Berkeley rooted me in climatic and culturally responsive design. I recall architectural history classes illustrating how thriving ancient civilizations all the way to modern vernaculars have become manifestations of climatic geopolitical resources. During graduate school at Yale, I was confronted with studios that focused purely on form-making, where a project’s concept was not be derived from the environment or cultural references. Shocked by this revelation, I double-downed on sustainable design.