one firm, many voices // hejun wen
Imagine growing up in a vibrant city of 21 Million, that buzzes with the energy of history and culture going back 3 millennia. Beijing, the Capital City in Northeast China is an international city with people, culture, and languages from all over the world. A historical city center sits nestled in the middle of contemporary urban architecture. This is where Hejun Wen grew up and where she was exposed to art, museums, futuristic technological advances, and a pace of living typical in cities of such global importance.
Studying abroad is very commonplace for Beijing students, so after she completed a bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering, Hejun set off with ease for Oklahoma. She walked away from fiercely competitive pressure so common among families in her area and walked toward opportunities to focus on the impact she can make in the world. Read on to learn more about Hejun and the wonderful ways she enhances our Dallas office.
How did you find landscape architecture? How did you decide to pursue your current job/career?
My hometown is Beijing, China. While I was growing up, my parents loved taking me to the mountains and doing outdoor activities. I have been falling in love with nature ever since. Meanwhile, I studied sketching for 7 years. When I was applying to major in college, Landscape Architecture seemed very interesting to me, since I love nature and art.
I was very stressed during my first year in college because I thought Landscape Architects may just plant trees in the ground. After learning more and more, I had a better understanding of what we are really creating here. I love designing outdoor places for creating great memories in people’s life. I just never left, I completed my master’s degree and joined TBG.
What is your job title and role? Describe the things you are responsible for day-to-day and big picture.
I am an Associate in the Dallas office. From my understanding, my responsibility is supporting my project team from the beginning to the end. I can work on any piece of the project and help others to push forward the design. I am also the Technology Chair for Dallas, helping the office with printers, tech topics for learning and as a liaison with our IT team, occasionally coordinating software triage before it goes to IT. I also have done Photoshop and Lumion teaching.
What do you love most about your work?
I love designing meaningful places and working with my team. I am willing to accept the design challenges of different projects. Working as a team provides a chance for me to communicate with others, and it is a way to broaden my horizons and to solve problems together, owning various experiences and holding different views towards things.
What is the biggest challenge to your role? The greatest challenge to the profession.
The biggest challenge for me is time management. Being a team player and working on multi-tasks, we need to learn how to schedule tasks and meetings effectively. I need some time to be able to concentrate and maintain focus, but I also do not want to lose the big picture falling into the trap of being busy instead but not effective.
Please list three goals that you currently have your sights on.
Goal one – Absorbing more construction knowledge, so when I start developing a site plan, I can realize construction challenges and how they will affect our cost estimate and design.
Goal two – Finding an effective way to help younger staff to grow in the TBG family. Sometimes, lecturing is not a good way to pass the knowledge along. I am willing to find a better way or teaching system in the office.
Goal three – Improving my design skills to the next level. I would love to learn more about environmental design how our designs can have a greater impact on our society.
What accomplishments (in your career or life) have given you a sense of pride and satisfaction?
Personally, I came to the US in 2013 and the past 7 years have been such an adventure for me. I have met a lot of people and learned a lot in this journey. The sentence I like a lot: ‘Time can’t add to a person’s life, cherishing the time, however, can make life more valuable.’
Professionally, I have a strong skill set and can work on any task during all phases of the design process.
Describe your design philosophy in two lines
My design philosophy is based on Inclusive design (design for everyone, different ages, abilities, user experiences) and Environmental Design (impact, materials, long term maintenance, balance of softscape and hardscape)
How would you like to see your career evolve in the next 1, 3, and 5 years?
1 year – I want to contribute my skill and talents and learn more at my current position in TBG.
3 years – I would like to pass the L.A.R.E.
5 years – I would like to see some of my projects built and becoming a memorable place in people’s daily life.
What are your three biggest career and leadership strengths?
Creativity, positivity, strategic thinking skills.
You have $100 to burn, all your friends are busy, and you have the whole day to yourself, what do you do?
I would go hiking at Cedar Hills (south of Dallas) and have a great meal after at Haidi Lao Hotpot.
What should they teach in school, but don’t?
How to cook.
List the one song (only one) that you play at full volume whenever it comes on the radio
倔強(Stubborn) by 五月天(Mayday)
Describe what you were like at age 10.
I was very independent and a handful for my parents.
What would surprise people to know about you?
I like challenges and trying new activities, such as skydiving.
What are two things you know you should know how to do but don’t?
Whistle (the only thing I can think of).
What do you do when you’re up against an obstacle or barrier?
I always go hiking or watch a movie to calm down first and I will find a logical way to conquer it.
What are two personal habits that have served you well?
Going to theaters (movies, ATT Performance Center). It forces you to focus on the moment and is great for storytelling inspiration. Also, going to parks with friends and catching up in nature.