We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Honorable mention winners of our "Los Angeles Affordable Housing Challenge" competition – Ernest Tse and Alec James Sweeting from United States!

Ernest Tse and Alec James Sweeting

Please tell us about your company (when it was founded, where it is based, how many employees, etc) Alternatively, if you do not have a company, please give us some insights on your own professional/academia background.

We are both graduate students at the University of Southern California School of Architecture. Ernest is currently pursuing a Master of Architecture degree and a certificate in Real Estate Development. He spent his childhood in Hong Kong but moved to Toronto when he was sixteen. Prior to coming to California, Ernest obtained a Bachelor of Architectural Science degree from Toronto Metropolitan University.

Alec is currently attending the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California; he was born in Connecticut and grew up in Dallas, Texas. Before attending his M.Arch, he received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture at Texas Tech University. We are also active student members of the USC chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), as we are passionate about creating architecture that addresses social injustices.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance, what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where the company/ individuals have been Involved?

Alec: After my undergraduate degree, I started my professional career at a local firm in DFW, where I engaged with diverse projects of various scales, from multi-family and single-family townhomes to master planning, office buildings, and city halls. Designing in the urban context of Los Angeles was an Interesting task; utilizing my previous experience in combination with the culture of Los Angeles was a fun exercise to explore. I look forward to future designs and projects within the city.

Ernest: After completing my undergraduate degree, I worked as an architectural designer at a Toronto-based boutique firm. I focused on small-scale residential projects and served as the lead designer in the retrofitting of a single-family house into a multi-plex with a second-story addition to accommodate an artist’s studio. I was fortunate enough to be able to follow this project from the initial napkin sketch to its completion. It allowed me to recognize the importance of creating architecture that breathes new life into the urban fabric and renews the building's vibrancy to fulfill social requisites. After graduation, I would like to focus on creating human-centric mixed-use housing projects.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

We believe that architects possess the ability to craft meaningful spaces that foster a sense of community, turning everyday encounters into profound friendships through shared experiences.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

Architectural competitions offer us a platform to cultivate innovative ideas rooted in contemporary issues. It is inspiring to learn from the architectural community in competitions as every participant uses different approaches to address the same prompt. All participants bring their unique expertise and past experiences into their designs, allowing us to learn from others in the field, challenge our own ideas, and develop our skill sets.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture competitions?

Competitions are beneficial because they offer opportunities to express your designs outside of professional and academic environments. We believe it is essential to have an authentic voice. We strive to be bold and experiment with expressing architectural ideas through different mediums, whether through physical models, digital models, sketching, or photography. Competitions enable ideas to go beyond what is conventional.

Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Enter Architecture Competitions

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