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one firm, many voices // yan wang

Yan Wang

As our One Firm, Many Voices series has demonstrated, our strength as a firm is rooted in the amazing breadth of talent we have. Today we spotlight Yan Wang, a design superstar in our Houston office. She regularly impresses us with her ability to rapidly ideate design concepts and her brilliant hand drawings. Read on to learn more about what drives Yan’s passion for design and how she has become a dedicated design leader.

1. How did you find landscape architecture? How did you decide to pursue your current job/career?
I majored in architecture when I was in college in China. I met the most inspiring professor who teaches landscape architecture as an elective class, and it was in her class that I decided to become a landscape architect.

2. What is your job title and role? Describe the things you are responsible for day-to-day and big picture.
I am a senior associate, and my day-to-day job is taking the lead on design on most of the projects on my team. That includes the inventory, analysis, and development of a project. I participate in design review meetings, the mentorship program and I’m the Houston rep for the Design Foundation Community. The purpose of the community is to keep us focused on creativity and encourage, manage, and teach creativity. It also expands our realm to be not just “front end work” or “white paper design”. It pushes us from strategy on how to acquire projects, all the way to installation when an “in-the-field” issue requires a design change.

3. What do you love most about your work?
Developing ideas and multiple options for a project with great spaces that are not only functional but also bring comfort and joy to people who use it.

4. What is the biggest challenge to your role? Greatest challenge to the profession.
Being a good design mentor and providing honest critiques with encouragement. Navigating how to respect boundaries and provide others with a boost in self-worth with the challenge of not growing up in the local culture and native language standards.

5. What was the first project you worked on at TBG?
To be honest, I forgot…it has been too long. But I still remember the first CD package I was working on was Telfair, the art of brick craftsmanship and how it is presented in the construction field really impressed me and brought fulfillment of being a designer.

6. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to hit a deadline?
Worked 40 hours straight without sleep.

7. Please list three goals that you currently have your sights on.
1. Complete Interior design class with The Interior Design Institute and design/build of my new home.
2. Lose 20 lbs.
3. Go to bed before 11:00

8. What accomplishments (in your career or life) have given you a sense of pride and satisfaction?
Solving a design problem, figuring out a detail, rendering a nice perspective drawing…I’m so grateful that I really love my career as a designer and easily find satisfaction in my work.

9. Describe your design philosophy in two lines.
Empathy with the user and focus in all endeavors. Form and function are one.

10. You have $100 to burn, all your friends are busy, and you have the whole day to yourself, what do you do?
Go fishing and seafood restaurant afterwards if I don’t get any bites.

11. What should they teach in school, but don’t?
I think school is not the only place we learn things. The good thing about learning, is you can find the opportunities to learn anywhere. I believe whenever there is a student, there is a teacher. But with the easy access to a huge amount of information that this world provides, we do need mentors or wisdom of self-knowledge to point out what we need to learn or improve, equip us with the tools to do it, and then let us to do it our way and learn from that experience.

12. List the one song (only one) that you play at full volume whenever it comes on the radio
10000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman

13. Describe what you were like at age 10.
Tall and skinny. Crazy naughty, sometimes a nuisance.

14. What was your worst job ever?
Staining a wood sliding door till 3 am! I eventually messed it up because I did not know when to stop.

15. What are two things you know you should know how to do but don’t?
Revit and cooking soup.

16. What makes you say “What was I thinking?” when you look back on your life?
Many things, but now I know what I was thinking at that moment and realize how much I’ve grown up; these things also remind me to be humble because everybody makes mistakes including myself.

17. What motivates and inspires you?
Holy Bible and the great nature that God created.

18. What do you do when you’re up against an obstacle or barrier?
I usually stop and think carefully before I take any action. But once the plan is made, I will be very persistent until solving the problem.

19. What are two personal habits that have served you well?
Swimming is extremely relaxing. I love the feeling of floating on the water and shuttling back and forth in the water like a dolphin. The water gives me a sense of tranquility. It is a time when I am able to work through my thoughts. I have loved to swim ever since I can remember and still to this day. It has the ability to always put a smile on my face. Swimming gives me a sense of peace and I am grateful to be able to feel that every time I swim.

Playing piano can make me sing in the darkness (I found it is an amazing entertainment especially during power and internet outage)

20. Ask me about (something you love to talk about)
Jesus Christ, Even though I do not know a lot about Him, I would like to have fellowship with anyone that is seeking Him or wants to pray together.