ZGF is committed to supporting the next generation of designers, which is why we established the ZGF Scholarship program in 2004 in memory of ZGF founding Partner and mentor, Norm Zimmer. The scholarship awards a $10,000 prize to be applied toward tuition and the opportunity for a summer internship.
Today, we are excited to announce Hong Xi as our 2019 ZGF Scholarship winner.
Hong is a Master in Architecture II candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Originally from Yunnan,China, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Engineering in Architecture and a Master of Architecture from Nanjing University.
Hong’s winning submission moved judges with his exploration of ideas that successfully interlace architecture with outside elements and thoughtful consideration for the user experience. “We were extremely impressed with Hong’s portfolio,” said ZGF Partner Sharron van der Meulen. “His work conveyed a sense of timelessness and a keen understanding of how design enables and celebrates the experiences that take place in the buildings and urban environment. With this scholarship, we are thrilled to support Hong in pursuit of his passions.”
We recently sat down with Hong to discuss where he gathers inspiration and what he’s looking forward to this summer as an intern in our Portland office.
Why did you decide to study architecture?
My early connection with architecture developed during visits to my uncle’s home in a village known as the “Stone City” in China. Carved directly into the rocky landscape, everything—tables, chairs, beds, and even the cooking stove—is made from stone. The entire village is embedded into the mountain with a defensive purpose, creating a unique form of architecture with spaces ranging from compact and murky to spacious and bright. Seeing the way people were able to utilize the different areas illustrated to me the role of space as a foundation of architecture, and it has influenced my interest of how people should interact with the spaces they inhabit.
Is there an aspect of the practice that you are particularly interested in?
I am currently very interested in sustainable design and how environmental factors influence the design process with consideration of form, function and performance in a holistic way.
Simultaneously, I consider each project a new opportunity to learn about a site, a phenomenon, a technique, and to explore its impact on the architecture.
What drew you to apply for the ZGF Scholarship?
I heard of ZGF Scholarship from GSD news last semester. I was impressed by ZGF’s commitment to support the younger generation of designers. I shared the news with my fellows and immediately applied.
You’ll be interning in the ZGF Portland office this summer. Have you visited Portland before?
This summer will be my first time in Portland. The first time I heard about the city was from an urban planning textbook in China several years ago, which mentioned Portland is a notable example in land-use planning and investment in public transportation.
What places are you most excited to see in Portland this summer?
I am very excited to visit the famous breweries and go cycling to explore roses.
What’s one tangible thing you hope to accomplish as an outcome of your internship?
During my internship, I hope to get exposure to different market sectors and project phases. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to bringing my passion for design and diverse cultural background to ZGF.
What’s something you recently worked on that inspired you?
I am currently working on a studio project instructed by Jeanne Gang. I was inspired by her lecture of the project at the Ford Calumet Environmental Center. During the design process, the team not only studied the devastating result of migrating birds’ collisions with glass buildings but also extended their research to an analysis of birds’ nests, their various weaving techniques, and their durability. The visitor center is therefore not just for humans – but for the local bird population as well. This sensibility toward the environment as an ecosystem helps me to understand how to design qualified architecture and, most importantly, how to be a responsible architect.
Visit our website on November 1, 2019 for more information on the 2020 ZGF Scholarship.