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Career Path

Architecture serving the end-users

by Gerry Xavier

Architect
Ronald Chow
Associate Director
Ho & Partners Architects

Architecture is not just about putting up buildings. It's equally about people, the end-users.

That's something architects should keep reminding themselves about, says Ronald Chow, Associate Director of Ho & Partners Architects, which has built numerous buildings of all kinds in Hong Kong and in mainland China.

Mr. Chow himself has had more than his fair share of "different" buildings - from residential apartments to office towers, hotels, museums, university auditoriums and deluxe private homes, including one on The Peak for business tycoon Peter Woo.

"People live and work in these places, and architects should learn about them: their behavior, their needs and lifestyles, so that we can provide them with an environment they can enjoy and be comfortable in."

Mr. Chow recalls that at university he was taught to be sensitive, creative and ever-conscious about changes taking place around him. He hasn't forgotten those lectures.


Architecture is a lively profession and very exciting if pursued in the right spirit, with enthusiasm and idealism.

It probably explains why Mr. Chow, who is only 34, has had the opportunity to do so many different jobs and to rise so high in his career.

But ask him that question, and he quickly replies, humbly: "Young perhaps, but not really successful."

He says he is acutely aware he does not know enough and that there is so much more to learn, not just about buildings but about virtually everything. His motto is "learn, learn and learn," and his advice to aspiring young architects is not to be content with what they have learned in university, but to continue learning. He describes himself as a "staunch" advocate of life-long learning.

An architect can practice in different disciplines. He or she can be a design architect, a project architect, or a resident architect. It takes a minimum of seven years to become a registered architect - five years at university, and two as an architectural assistant in an architect's firm.

Architecture is a lively profession and very exciting if pursued in the right spirit, with enthusiasm and idealism, Mr. Chow says. Hong Kong, unfortunately does not provide architects with enough freedom to show their talent, because of space restraints and a strong commercial dictate to get as much as possible from what little space they have.

"But it doesn't always have to be that way," he stresses. Architects who care are often able to sell their ideas even to hardnosed developers, by convincing them that a good looking and environmentally friendly building can promote their market image and provide long-term gains.

"But if Hong Kong's residential buildings are not very attractive, we make up for this setback with our high-rise structures," Mr. Chow points out. Hong Kong's skyscrapers, he says, are world-famous, particularly for their solid structures and the fact that they are always completed on time and within budget.

China Opportunities

Mr. Chow says that China is a very busy and exciting place for architects. He likens China to Hong Kong 20 years ago, when a lot of building was taking place with developers giving architects a lot of freedom to perform. Opportunities are great; Ho & Partners alone have about 200 architects working on the Mainland. Mr. Chow is very impressed with his mainland counterparts, they are very creative, hardworking, and eager to learn.


Figures provided by
Centaline Julie's Personnel Consultants Limited
  K='000

Taken from Career Times 03 May 2002, p. 28

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