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Norm Wong

Q: Where are you from?

I was born in Hong Kong. My family immigrated to San Francisco when I was a year old.

Q: Where did you go to school?

I attended elementary and high school in San Francisco and architecture school in Southern California – Cal Poly Pomona and SciArc.

Q: Tell me about your family.

My parents live near me which is a huge benefit as they are aging and I don’t need to wait until major holidays to visit them. I have three sisters and two daughters, so I’ve always been surrounded by girls and women who have taught me a great deal of humility and respect.

Q: What is the most interesting aspect of architecture to you?

Aside from the overall impact of the visual beauty of all forms of great architecture, the aspect of architecture I appreciate most is materiality, whether it’s roughhewn timber, stone, or finely finished woodwork, plaster or metals. The choice of materials and finishes can be so powerful. When one sees a beautiful material or finish and feels compelled to reach out and touch it, that’s a sign that the architecture has engaged and captivated. Tactility is often overlooked as a crucial aspect of the experience of architecture.

Q: What are your creative outlets outside of work?

My main creative outlet outside of architecture is advanced origami. I also love to tinker with bicycles – although not really a creative outlet – but I am fascinated with the mechanical nature of all the components necessary for human-powered transportation.

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?

My favorite project type is custom residential although wineries are a close second. I appreciate the high level of detail, quality, and execution that these projects demand that are not common in other project types.

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?

I love being in the office in person (when others are present) for the comradery and idle chit chat that has nothing to do with work. Building personal bonds is so important to me and it’s difficult to accomplish that virtually.

Q: What are the top three things on your bucket list?

I’ve accomplished the top of my bucket list by purchasing a new home this year. I also strive to stay healthy and fit and to travel more. It has been many years since I’ve had a proper vacation.

Q: What are five features you would include in your dream home?

My dream home would be completely off the grid and self-sustaining, energy efficiency and minimal mechanical heating or cooling to maintain comfort. A fully equipped and spacious kitchen with high end appliances (this may be contrary to the previous features, but one has to cook!). A great view of landscape and/or water and a good distance from neighbors so I can blast my Techno/Trance music, blazing guitar solos by Joe Satriani or deep bass resonance of JS Bach’s cello suites without headphones.

Q: Where are you most excited to travel next?

This is a tough one. My first choice is a food tour of Asia including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and others. Not too much to ask for? I would also love to do an extensive architecture tour of Europe. I did not have the opportunity in my younger years to travel much but would love to see some of the architectural masterpieces I’ve only seen in books. And last but not least I would like to visit and camp in Patagonia in South America. I love backpacking and would love to explore the otherworldly beauty of Patagonia on foot.

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