Say “hello” to Julie Hong, one of Curran’s newest team members! Julie, a Georgia native, comes to us by way of the Savannah College of Art and Design and Ball State University. Her creativity is limitless; in addition to being graduate architect, Julie is a writer, designer, and beauty expert. For her, the ideas never stop coming. Here’s what Julie had to say about theoretical architecture and creativity—and the advice she’d give women who are considering architecture school.
Let’s start off with school. Where did you go?
I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) for my bachelor’s, then went to Ball State for my Master’s. I would actually love to have a PhD in theoretical architectural. I took quite a few theoretical studio courses as an undergrad, and those are the ones that challenged me the most. That’s where I produced my best work.
Explain theoretical architecture. What did you do in your studios?
Basically, they’re projects that, more or less, wouldn’t have any chance of being built. I had a very eccentric professor who was fascinated with, of all things, billboards. The assignment was to design a building that would be in the middle of a billboard—in the little space between the two boards. We had to design a building in the sky, essentially. In another theoretical studio, we had to design an ambulatory building that could walk. Those are the two studios that stick out to me, and I’m still in contact with the professors who taught them.
Speaking of pie-in-the-sky ideas, what would be a dream project?
I would love to do custom, luxury residential projects or a wedding or special event venue. I like the idea of having my design be incorporated into someone’s special event, whether it’s a wedding, a birthday, whatever. I think that would be fascinating.
Tell us what types of projects you’re working on at Curran.
I’m mostly doing industrial work right now, but I was also brought on to do some graphic work. Graphics are one of my strongest suits, so I’ll be working on elevation renderings, for example.
You mentioned graphics. Do you have other creative outlets?
I’m actually really big into creative writing. I am working on a novel that I am hoping to release within the next five years. It’s kind of been put on hiatus now that I’m working. But I’ve got a couple of side stories I’m also working on. I’m also very much into beauty, which is a creative outlet in its own way. I used to work beauty retail when I was an undergrad and I love makeup, fragrances, luxury bags, things like that.
Sounds like creativity is one of your core values.
It’s definitely a big part of who I am. I would say I’m an all-around creative, but it’s not the only thing that’s important to me. I’m a very big ally when it comes to mental health. In architecture school, burnout is so common.
Knowing that, what advice would you give someone who is considering going to school for architecture or design?
I would tell them to get ready for some sleepless nights. There’s this “thing” where you’ll have an idea stuck in your head, and it won’t leave until you design or make it. And while architecture is shifting, the field is still predominately male. Architecture could definitely use more women. If there is a woman who is looking at architecture as a profession, I would tell them that they need hard skin.
Speaking of architecture as a profession, what do you think it should be doing to push itself?
That’s a good question. I hope that any new buildings strive for at least LEED Silver, if not Gold or Platinum. We know we’re not taking good care of the earth. So, you might as well put in the effort to make things environmentally friendly and sustainable. Is it more expensive? Yeah. But if it’s going to be a new build, go ahead and spend the money to make it sustainable. You need to be mindful of the environmental impact.
Final question. What does good design mean to you?
To me, good design is when all parties are happy with what is produced.