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April Face 2 Face Recap with Michael Hsu

Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, formerly Michael Hsu Design Office, was formed in 2005 with the goal of producing locally engaged, design-driven architecture and interiors in Austin. Hsu’s work has yielded head-turning structures for beloved brands such as Amy’s Ice Creams, Uchi and Uchiko, P. Terry’s Burger Stand and the ZACH Theater, leading to a 2013 ABJ cover story that deemed Hsu as the designer of Austin 2.0.

We had the opportunity to hear from Hsu during this month’s Face 2 Face series at Whole Foods. United Way for Greater Austin is proud to serve as the nonprofit partner for this ongoing lecture series. One of our own Young Leaders Society Executive Members, Frances Jordan (pictured above) was onsite to explain our local presence and ways that the business community can become more involved on an individual or company level.

According to Hsu, “We have such a fresh mindset in this [Austin] community and that gives a huge opportunity for designers to come up with new and changing ideas.”

Hsu Office of Architecture practices contemporary or modern architecture and believes in modernism that is really accessible, designing inviting and warm spaces with an interesting experience that is fresh and warm.

“We love to incorporate natural, raw materials in all of our designs because we feel that’s authentic. We pay attention to trends and we try to do them as well if not better than they are being done. If we can’t, then we stay away all together.”

Hsu can be accredited with much of the success of the local food scene here in Austin. He’s worked with clients that embody the spirit of our community and what Austinites expect in a dining experience. Partnering with long-term strategists like Patrick Terry and Uchi even allowed Hsu to expand business during our most recent recession.

“When building buildings, I love to think in centuries. Some projects have a 10 year life-span that need to be refreshed after so many years but ideally the buildings would be staples.”

When asked about where he learned business best practices, Hsu said that he learned the skills that he needed to run his business from clients and his family.

“I’m a first generation Chinese immigrant and like many immigrants my parents were small business owners and it was a hard life – a lot of work and a lot of struggle. When I decided to start my own firm, I needed to have a good grasp on the direction it was going in. I had a core group of clients that had visions and as they grew I grew with them.”

United Way for Greater Austin is proud to serve a community that supports local businesses and celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of our city. We are all about being local and care deeply about the quality of life that our friends and neighbors here experience. Beautiful and sustainable structures like Hsu’s contribute to our culture and Make Austin Greater.

According to Hsu, “We consider ourselves to be ambassadors of design here in Austin.”

Interested in attending next month’s Face 2 Face with Alejandro Ruelas, CMO and Managing Partner of LatinWorksLearn more and register to attend – you won’t regret it!

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