Twenty-year architectural veteran Stan Chiu, AIA, LEED AP, an industry leader in lean design and integrated project delivery (IPD), joined HOK’s Los Angeles office on Sept. 4 as a new senior vice president and management principal.
After earning his B.A. from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and a master’s degree in architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in 1992, Stan was awarded a fellowship to study in Japan, with a focus on comparing traditional and contemporary creative processes. He worked for a black-cape architecture firm in Tokyo and also as a carpenter on an island off Kobe, Japan.
“I have always been interested in the creative process,” said Stan. “Especially how a design idea that originates in the mind of an individual moves to a different team that constructs it. The seeds of a lot of ideas about project delivery that I have been exploring throughout my architectural career were sown during my time in Japan.”
Returning from Japan in 1993, Stan landed a job with Ellerbe Becket in Minneapolis. He quickly was drawn into the firm’s healthcare design group, and one of his first significant projects was the 1.6 million-sq.-ft. Gonda Building for the Mayo Clinic. “After learning to collaborate with constructors in Japan, I was now able to collaborate with Mayo clinicians on ideas about planning and designing for patient care,” he said. “Mayo has an amazing collaborative practice and infrastructure.”
In 1999, Stan and his wife, Ali, who he met in Minneapolis, moved to Los Angeles and he began working with NBBJ. His highlights there included providing strategic master planning and design for a dozen Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) campuses.
Two years later, Stan joined Perkins+Will, where his responsibilities included serving as lead designer for the award-winning Oregon Health & Science University Peter O. Kohler Pavilion in Portland.
After forming his own architectural practice and working out of his garage in Venice, Calif., Stan began consulting to a friend at HGA Architects. That relationship resulted in Stan accepting a position as the firm’s West Coast design director in 2004. This is where he first worked with David Chambers, now a director with HOK’s healthcare consulting practice, on using lean design to create a hospital prototype and process improvements for Sutter Health. Based on his expertise with lean design and IPD, Stan also was named chief engineer. In that position, he led a 70-firm team in delivering the design for the California Prison Receivership hospital prototype project, which had a requirement for 10,000 beds and a $6 billion budget.
Stan joined RTKL in 2010 to lead the Los Angeles office and direct its healthcare group. At RTKL, he helped design the 2,200-bed, 3.9 million-sq.-ft. Shanghai Changzheng New Pudong Hospital.
What attracted you to HOK?
I was attracted by HOK’s design excellence, thought leadership and reputation for being best-in-class in areas like project management and making operational improvements. This is a critical, exciting time for our profession. HOK is a leader in lots of areas that are important to me in terms of improving the project delivery process to bring value to clients.
Will you continue to work on projects?
Being engaged in project work as a designer brings new knowledge and value. I appreciate HOK leadership’s model, which allows me to remain active in projects. This makes the firm stronger. I see myself collaborating with our Los Angeles management committee group — Ernest Cirangle, David Hollister, Elaine Kanelos and Alicia Wachtel — to work toward the success of the Los Angeles office. I will be a strong voice for our customers.
You have a long history of writing and speaking about lean design principles and acting as a leader in lean IPD. Will you bring that to the office?
The lean design principles that came from the original group that studied Toyota’s manufacturing processes in Japan have been applied to improve both the delivery of projects and the delivery of healthcare.
To me, lean design for improving projects means developing innovative ways for architects, engineers and contractors to work together more effectively as part of an integrated team. These innovative ideas have the ability to impact HOK’s entire practice in terms of minimizing waste in the design and delivery process — doing more with less and maximizing value for clients.
Your focus was sculpture as an undergrad at Wesleyan?
Yes, my medium was ceramics. I have the urge to create physical things with my hands. Someday, I will have a studio again to do pure art. For now, it is a hobby. We have boys who are five, seven and nine, so time is at a premium.
What else do you do in your free time?
I am a winemaker. My family has a 40-acre vineyard in Paso Robles and we make Cabernet Sauvignon in our garage. At this point, it is purely for family and friends.
We live in Venice, about a half-mile from the Pacific Ocean, and I like to surf. I try to get out three or four times a week. It is a balance thing. Surfing is physical but also very mental. You are interacting with these bits of energy that come from very far away. You predict what the waves are going to do and move in a way that is responsive but not reactive. You have to be in control while giving up control. And sometimes you get drilled! It’s a lot like architecture.
Who inspires you?
Rafael Moneo, who designed the Los Angeles Cathedral, inspires me. He was my critic during my first semester at Harvard and later was my thesis advisor. Rafael is amazing, thoughtful and humble. I love his work.
What drives your interest in healthcare design?
There is a lot of medicine in my family. My father is a neurosurgeon, my grandfather is a surgeon, my great-aunt is an OBGYN and I have cousins who are doctors. My first real job was in a hospital in 1982, during the summer between high school and college. When I was younger, I had ideas about being a doctor and actually had a dual major of fine arts and neuropsychology at Wesleyan. I ended up dropping the neuropsych and focusing on art. Art won at the time, but healthcare design has enabled me to blend the two.