F5: Architect Calvin Tsao Appreciates the Sun’s Dynamics, Clarity + More
In 1985, UC Berkeley and Harvard University graduate Calvin Tsao founded New York-based firm TsAO & McKown with his partner, the equally talented Zack McKown. The duo’s backgrounds, interests, and idiosyncrasies come together in the studio where big and small projects across various locales are brought to fruition through their gaze.
Calvin approaches each project as a chance to put his own global experiences into play, focusing on a distinct way of thinking rather than a signature style of design. Recognized as a leading voice in contemporary architecture, his work draws from a variety of art forms, existential questions, and observations. Calvin envisions his role as a cultural mediator, striving to harness these global experiences and technology to express local cultures and contexts. The last project informs the next, creating a domino effect that leads to a larger pool of knowledge to draw from in the future.
Current projects include the reconfiguration of the National Palace Museum of Taiwan – plus additions. And in Atlanta the studio is working with a university and a private partner to develop a community of 3,000 residences, half of which are designated to be affordable.
Calvin has taught at the Harvard GSD, Cooper Union, Syracuse University and Parsons School of Design. He’s board Chair of The American Academy in Rome, former Vice President for Design Excellence at AIA New York | Center for Architecture, and President Emeritus and board member of The Architectural League of New York. The studio received the 2022 AIANY Medal of Honor and in 2012 was a recipient of the National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, as well as the Legacy Award from the Museum of the Chinese in America.
Today, Calvin Tsao joins us for Friday Five!
1. Sunrise in the City
Waking up early in our home off Central Park, the sensation of seeing the city bask in that early morning glow gives me energy for a new day.
2. Sunset in the Country
Watching the sun slowly set over our orchard upstate always fills me with gratitude and humility for the infinite beauty and power of nature.
3. Great Shops With a Personal Vision
I love discovering how a person’s character gets expressed in the shops they create, such as Pidgin in upstate New York, Egg in London, and Quaner22 in Shanghai, revealing their world view through the environments they make and things they’ve chosen, offering up beauty in inimitable ways.
4. American Academy in Rome
The American Academy in Rome is a center for advanced studies in the Arts and Humanities. My experiences there as a resident two decades ago opened up new perspectives, helping me to better know my purpose and mission.
Meditation stills the mind and soul, and helps to bring clarity.