01

DESIGN WITH RESILIENCE

Three senior members of staff in JMA, PCPAJ will exchange
their thoughts about the above corporate philosophy,
which has been passed on from Caesar Pelli to Jun Mitsui, and to all members of staff.

Introduction

When JMA, PCPAJ approaches a new project, we first look at the city as a whole, and take into consideration the type of people who live there; we carefully investigate the environment, and look at it from every angle possible, and have deep conversations with everyone involved in the project, such as staff members and clients, to find the best possible solution for the site. In order to cater for all residents and visitors to the project we try to come up with a variety of ideas, and not just the first perceived idea. Three senior members of staff in JMA, PCPAJ will exchange their thoughts about the above corporate philosophy, which has been passed on from Caesar Pelli to Jun Mitsui, and to all members of staff.

How to ensure a smooth communication between us and the cleints? What skills are necessary in order to adapt to any environment and respond to changing needs? By looking back at their own careers so far, their skill of finding the “best solution” to the clients’ needs seem to have improved greatly over time.

PEOPLE

  • Yoshinori Moriya

    Senior associate, Architect

    Major works

    New Haneda Airport International Passenger Terminal
    Shibaura Island Design Guideline
    Takamatsu Sunport Government Building

  • Hirohisa Ogata

    Senior associate

    Major works

    SKYZ TOWER & GARDEN
    Yodoyabashi Mitsui Building
    Kyushu University New Campus

  • Kensuke Joko

    Senior associate

    Major works

    Hilton Okinawa Chatan Resort
    Mt. Moiwa Ropeway facilities
    Park City Hamadayama

Our company culture is to value communication between members

Mr.Ogata
The three of us joined the company at the same time, and all had worked here as a part-time designer before officially joining the company. It has been a while since we are all working under the same roof in the Tokyo office.
Mr. Moriya
At the time we made so many design models, and I remember one time when I completed a model and showed it to the team they asked me what I thought about it, even though I was just a part-time staff; it took me by surprise and I couldn’t answer. Thinking back, I believe they asked me the question because they welcomed my input even when I had very little practical experience. From that day I started to be more conscious of the tasks given to me, and always thought about how to express my ideas afterwards.
Mr. Joko
It does become a habit when working in this office, to think ahead about how best to reply to questions when asked. As people listen carefully to our thoughts we want to have good answers, therefore we start preparing beforehand by researching about the topic even when we were just part-time staff; it really made us feel like we were part of the design team.
Mr. Ogata
One thing that I can definitely say from my experience of working on various projects at this company is that both Caesar Pelli and Mitsui Jun welcome good ideas, no matter who it’s from; whether it’s from an experienced team leader or a new member of staff. Our leaders at the time were like that too, and I guess we have since naturally adopted that skill. Some of our ideas at the time were accepted and presented to clients; they were then carried out and built, and is now part of the city’s architecture; that is the true pleasure of architectural design, and it’s exciting when new staff members are also given the opportunity.
Mr. Moriya
I think we can say that we work in an environment where new ideas can easily be generated; position or past experience don’t matter when expressing ourselves, and we are all on a level field so everyone can speak freely. It is JMA, PCPAJ’s culture to value communication and interactions with each other.

Following the local “manners”, for a design that matches the city

Mr. Moriya
I recall right from the beginning of employment I was told to start a project by analyzing the site. Don’t start designing a building without knowing the site and the surroundings, but for me at first the tendency was still to think about the building that I wanted to design.
Mr. Joko
“Always see the building from the point of the city”, that was what they said during meetings. We were always asked to examine the city where the buildings were to be built from a variety of perspectives, such as the people, the landscape, climate, nature and historical background.
Mr. Ogata
Mr. Mitsui often uses the expression “manner” towards the site’s surrounding. The first priority is to design a building for the city and the people, then look towards the city’s future. By analyzing each site and surrounding carefully, we create a design that is the best match to the site and the city; that is also why the same design will never be used twice.
Mr. Moriya
I am often asked “why does JMA, PCPAJ’s architecture vary so much in design?” or “Can’t there be one particular style which can be instantly recognized, such as glass architectures or concrete architecture, for instance?” Our philosophy is that we design buildings that are the best match to the sites; the environment for each project is different, and the climate, history and culture also vary, therefore each design must be different. There is not one city in the world that is the same as another.
Mr. Joko
Another thing besides the site’s environment which we have to understand is the client’s brief. It would seem like this is a given, but we really try to listen and understand fully clients’ requirements. There are things that the clients wish to see that they themselves are not conscious of at first. To help clients fully express their needs we communicate with them regularly. It is not just between colleagues that we exchange ideas; we learnt the importance of sharing ideas within the office, so we do the same with our clients.
Mr. Ogata
We visualize the clients’ needs by using physical design models or computer renders, and further refine the design by listening to the clients. When the clients see their brief being visualized they have a better understanding of what they want, and the discussions to refine the design between us and the clients become even more interactive.
Mr. Joko
By showing the clients several models and computer renders which match their brief, it becomes easier during design discussions to understand each other. Showing a variety of options to the clients helps them to understand the design they want for the site.

Sharing the sense of accomplishment with the client

Mr. Joko
In order to prepare in advance all the design models and computer renders necessary for presentations, we have to imagine multiple scenarios. Since our designs are often outcomes of detailed analysis of the site’s environment, every single one of them is derived logically. The clients of JMA, PCPAJ are not asking for an existing design style, but a design that best matches the area and the brief. We get excited when we think about ways in which we can meet the client’s expectations and come up with good designs.
Mr. Ogata
Since the designs we suggest must be well thought out and match the needs of the clients, obviously our discussions become even more interactive. When we interact with the clients by expressing our thoughts, the clients often respond with new requests and ideas, and those ideas are then included in the design. It is this collaborative process that keeps our designs from becoming “leave it to the designer” projects. A sense of unity between us and the clients are achieved when we design together, and it gets us all closer to the projects’ goal.
Mr. Moriya
Since the design is something that was born from the site, everyone who took part in the design discussions is able to understand and explain the design objectively, even when they are not the design architects. This is necessary since there are times where the person (client) in charge of developing the project has to explain to the head of the company our design using the models we created. The head of the company wouldn’t just accept the explanation that “the designer says this is the best solution”, when it is an investment of millions of dollars.
Mr. Joko
The reason that the client is able to feel the satisfaction when the building is completed is because they were deeply involved in the design process, and therefore feel that they designed the project with us. It is an incredible feeling whenever an idea that we worked long and hard to brainstorm and discuss finally comes into shape, and being able to share this feeling with everyone involved with this project is the best part.
Mr. Moriya
There are many moments where we are able to feel the client’s satisfaction, for example, when a design idea beyond the client’s expectation is formed after listening carefully to their requests. Also when a design which has been debated for a long time starts to come into shape, everybody feels excited.
Mr. Joko
There are also the people who experience and use what we built. Whenever I see people happy while working in an office I designed, or having fun at a place I worked on, I feel like I gave them “a stage for their lives”; it makes me glad that I am doing this job.
Mr. Ogata
No matter where the site is we must create a design that matches it, and continue to refine the design through interactions with each other. We wish to continue to work on our “ultimate flexibility”, which is our strength, and provide the best design which suits the site.

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