By Jocelyn Moore
Northwest Asian Weekly
When 10-year-old Ming Zhang first saw the 24-story Shanghai Park Hotel in 1973, the tallest building in China at that time, he was amazed by its height and architecture.
For the next few decades, Zhang held onto that moment of inspiration.
Fast-forward to early this year—Zhang ventured from being the president of the U.S. architectural firm MulvannyG2 to open his own firm, MZA.
“What intrigued me in designing is the unknown,” said Zhang. “I have no idea what the building will turn out each time when I receive a new project.”
When Zhang hosted MZA’s open house last week in downtown Bellevue, more than 200 guests attended to celebrate his career milestone.
“Ming Zhang is Bellevue’s I.M. Pei,” said Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci. “He is an internationally recognized and award-winning architect.”
As an architect, Zhang views building as a form of art. He said, “My father is a Chinese painting artist. I was exposed and fell in love with art when I was a kid.”
Originally from Nanjing, China, Zhang received his bachelor’s degree at Hefei University of Technology.
He then traveled to Chicago to pursue his master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1986.
Since then, he has worked on many international projects at multiple architectural firms.
As the owner of an architectural firm, on top of skills and creativity, Zhang also shares the vision of many Asian business owners.
“This strong growth movement is directly tied with Chinese investment in Seattle, so it has positive impact on many Asian communities here,” Zhang said. “It creates more business opportunities for local Asian businesses because China investors naturally seek local help with people who understand both Chinese and local cultures.”
Such business opportunities not only create jobs, but also empower the Asian community, he said.
“Chinese and Asian investors or immigrants participate in local Asian community events and contribute to this community,” Zhang said. “The scale of their contribution can be very big, such as charity financial contribution.”
Zhang also sees his firm as a platform to bridge the cultural gap between the East and the West.
“When I design a project with Chinese investors here in the Seattle area, I understand their specific needs in carrying some of their cultural and spiritual needs into their project design such as feng shui,” Zhang said.
Zhang anticipates a continuous demand for architects in the Seattle market due to the strong economy.
He encourages young Asian Americans who are interested in architecture to act upon their dreams.
“Some challenges during my career as an immigrant include overcoming language barriers and [to] be out there in the mainstream community,” Zhang said. “My advice to new international students is to sharpen your three skills: first, the English language skill; second, your professional learning skills; third, be a good team player.”
And most important of all, Zhang said, “Be innovative.” (end)
Jocelyn Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.