We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winners of the 1st prize of our “Sydney Affordable Housing Challenge” competition - Tae Jung, Pauline Sipin, Hazel Ventura and Diana Lopez from United States!

NIKA team from United States

Founded in 1998, NIKA is revolutionizing how businesses and governments design, build and manage real property. By combining architecture, engineering, enterprise technology, and facilities operations management services all under one roof, we are able to provide unparalleled value to our clients. With two decades of experience serving organizations across the world, NIKA provides exceptional client service that is designed to enhance operational excellence and readiness while meeting mission objectives. The company is based in the Washington, DC area and currently employs nearly 250 talented professionals.

The NIKA Creative Lab is our dedicated design research studio formed to promote NIKA’s innovative and imaginative approach to solving complex architectural challenges. Our architects and engineers work to develop a strong understanding of the needs of our evolving society, and design creative architectural solutions that enhance the world in which we live. Different from the conventional A+E work studio, the NIKA Creative Lab is a rich testing ground for out-of-the-box ideas, fresh perspectives, and unique approaches that will serve as a springboard into the future. We are honored to be able to take part in this competition and share our ideas with the global design community.

Team Member Profiles:

Tae Y. Jung, Vice President of Architecture and Engineering at NIKA, has more than 20 years of architectural experience in the United States. He provides client leadership, strategic master planning, and creative design services on major global projects. He is an experienced design leader who has master planned, designed and constructed more than two million square feet of complex healthcare facilities and science & technology buildings throughout North America and Asia, as well as academic institutions and sports facilities in the United States. As an expert in his field, Tae frequently speaks at design conferences, and his work has garnered numerous awards.

Pauline Sipin serves as an architectural designer in NIKA’s Architecture and Engineering practice. She assists in the development of innovative and practical design concepts for various projects across the globe. Her clients rely upon her proven ability to deliver high quality, technically-sound deliverables as well as innovative design approach. She has received awards from the Construction Owners Association of America, the National Association of Home Builders, AIA Baltimore, and AIA Maryland, among others.

Hazel Ventura is a design professional in NIKA’s Architecture and Engineering practice. She works as a junior architect, developing schematic master plans and rendering images for submissions and proposals. Known for her energy and enthusiasm, Hazel is a key resource with strong expertise in the preparation of various design projects in NIKA. Hazel earned her bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Maryland and is currently working toward her master’s degree in urban and regional planning at Virginia Tech.

Diana Lopez is an architectural designer in NIKA’s Architecture and Engineering practice, where she specializes in building information modeling (BIM), Architectural visualization. An adept designer, Diana is known for her adaptability and reliability in collaborating with the architecture team to complete project deliverables. Diana earned her bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Maryland, where she received the most prestigious full tuition merit scholarship the institution offers.

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 company/ individuals have been involved?

From complex healthcare facilities and lab spaces to offices and auditoriums, NIKA has led many projects varying in scale and focus. We are currently providing creative design solutions for over a million square feet of space for a diverse group of clients and industry partners. NIKA’s design excellence and approach is always guided by our understanding of our clients’ needs and our commitment to an expression of creativity that helps architecture blend seamlessly into the social fabric of our lives.

Notable projects include a new LEED Silver Veterans Administration outpatient clinic in Florida designed to help U.S. servicemen and women heal and reclaim their quality of life. Similarly, we are using our specialized healthcare expertise to provide innovative design solutions at the Lackland Air Force Base that address the need for both wellness and recreation. NIKA has provided the initial concept design for an Invisible Wounds Clinic that features rapidly deployable design to support holistic healing for patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

While healthcare facilities are one area of expertise at NIKA, we also design many other types of facilities. For example, NIKA provided sustainable, LEED Silver interior design services at the US consulate in Shanghai, China, where we addressed growing space requirements and improved aesthetics, comfort, and safety.

View of the VA Outpatient clinic in Tampa Bay, FL

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

Architecture addresses the complex balances of form and function, financial reality and aspiration, public and private usage, and art and science. Successful architecture must bridge those dichotomies, using energy and artistic vision to form the perfect equilibrium.

With a unique insight into the space in which society resides, architects have the ability and opportunity to question conventions and design solutions that shape the way we will live, work, and play in the future. Architects are privileged to be able to consistently propose new ideas that disrupt our cultural environment and trigger positive change that ripples throughout modern society.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Through the NIKA Creative Lab, we are always looking for ways to cultivate new ideas in a collaborative ‘lab’ environment. Vision competitions are the perfect place to test and build a conceptual model of organic design ideas that can influence research and real projects in future.

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

We believe that participating in vision competitions is a key part of the creative growth of a design team. While it can be challenging to make time for competitions during the course of other day-to-day duties, it is a worthwhile endeavor that helps spark innovation and collaboration. At NIKA, we have set aside time after normal work hours to cultivate idea farming—testing and discussing different concepts and paths forward. Even if competing in vision competitions isn’t directly supported by an architect’s firm, our team believes that there is great value in using some free time each week to develop entries and submissions to build a team’s morale and flex its creative muscles. 

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