Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to share his architecture and design ideas through speculative projects. His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

Coming up with the Next Architecture Projects

Coming up with the Next Architecture Projects


Working as an architect, we generally have a client who owns a parcel of land or an existing building that asks for our services to design a new building or an awesome renovation. They’ll provide the location, budget, program, size requirements, and other aspects that pertain to the project. We interpret this information and come up with a compelling design concept that’ll change the world! Or at least it will from our perspective.

What happens if a client never approaches us with a project site or program? How do we find or come up with our own projects to build on our portfolio of work? Most of all, how do we build a portfolio of projects that showcase the work that we’re most passionate about?

Develop a broad architecture topic or idea

Over the past week, I’ve been thinking about the next theoretical architecture project to pursue for my 30x30 project series. Reflecting on project 1x30 the NYC Micro Dwellings, I realized that the toughest part to developing a theoretical architecture project was finding an idea, typology, location, or program that resonated with my passion for architecture. I found that I’m drawn most to architecture projects that combine several programs into a mixed use project or attempts to solve a humanitarian issue.

With this in mind, it’s important to take a step back and think about an architectural idea that diverges into multiple possibilities in your imagination. For example, with the NYC Micro Dwellings, I’ve always wanted to work on a project that was sited at the heart of New York City near the places that I frequently visit. From there, I thought about my dreams of living in NYC along with the cost of living and the reality of small apartment conditions. By determining the prospective location of the project, I was able to identify an architecture program and develop a series of issues to begin the design process.

So ask yourself, is there a location where you could imagine a future home, office, café, farmer’s market, community center, homeless shelter, or any other program? Is there an existing building somewhere in your city that’s vacant and could be revitalized with a renovation? Where do you see yourself working or living in the future?

Project 2x30 – Architect’s Home and Studio

My focus this week was to come up with the next architecture project for the 30x30 series. After a lot of thinking, I decided that my next project would be to design an architect’s home and studio. If you’re thinking that it’s because I’ve always wanted to live and work in a home that I designed for myself, you’re completely right!

Ever since I found my passion for architecture in my junior year of college, I always imagined what it would be like to own mixed use building that would be my home and architecture studio. This idea has stayed in my mind and was strengthened by my visit to Atelier Bow Wow’s home and studio in Japan. The combination and flow between spaces was spectacular and the design felt very conducive to concentrating on work. This is one of my case studies along with several other architects and designers homes and studios.

For this particular project, I’m already pondering several questions. Should the living and office spaces be clearly separated? Or should the two be designed in conjunction with one another? Should the project be net-zero or plus energy? Should the design blend into its neighborhood context or be determined by sustainable design principles?

Project 3x30 – One Seneca Tower Renovation

This project has been on my mind for quite some time now, especially because the building has just been auctioned off to a developer. Its future has been contemplated by the Buffalo News and the citizens of Buffalo. So after some thought I decided that project 3x30 will be a renovation of the One Seneca tower in Buffalo, NY.

In terms of my ideas for programs, I’m thinking it’ll be renovated into a mixed use building with retail and restaurants on the lower floors, offices above the public spaces, and luxury condominiums above the offices. I’ve spoken to several friends of mine about their thoughts on the building, mostly focusing on its aesthetics and exterior cladding. Although many people have said that the exterior cladding could be replaced with new materials, I think portions of the exterior could be replaced and most of it could be retained.

Similar to project 2x30, I’ve come up with several questions to get the project started. Should the exterior cladding be removed for a new material? Or could some areas of the exterior remain while others are removed to work with the future programs? How much square footage is in the tower? Could the public space be introduced higher in the building similar to observation decks in the John Hancock Tower or One World Trade Center? Or could it even be located at the center of the building’s elevation?

Next tasks for developing project 2x30 and 3x30

I’ve decided to work on both of these projects simultaneously with some weeks focusing more on one project than the other. While working on the NYC Micro Dwellings, I realized that I tend to procrastinate when I’ve reached a milestone or major design issue with a project. Rather than heading over to Netflix and binge watching a television series (currently watching House now, which is very addicting), I’ll spend that deep thinking time working on another project.

In addition to the 2x30 and 3x30 mentioned in this post, I’ve also come up with project 4x30 and 5x30 which I won’t share too much of until the summer time. All I can really say is that 4x30 will be developed as a competition entry and 5x30 will be my first real project! So stay tuned for more on those projects and feel free to share some of the projects that you’re working on in the comments section below!

Lessons learned on delegating work

Lessons learned on delegating work

Finalizing the NYC Micro Dwellings Project

Finalizing the NYC Micro Dwellings Project