Houston Business Journal : Architect Michael Hsu sees opportunities for new Houston office by tapping into city’s culture

Nationally recognized Austin-based architect Michael Hsu has big plans for his firm’s new Houston office. Not only will the new outpost make it easier to collaborate with clients, Hsu said it will provide an opportunity to plug into the Houston community and meet the unique expectations local clients have for their development projects.

Michael Hsu Office of Architecture announced last week that it had launched its Houston branch in a former antique store at 1906 Ashland St. The office opened on Aug. 15 with two design experts. A third architect will join the office next month.

“We see this as a great opportunity to put down deeper roots in Houston,” Hsu said. “There is a lot of architecture work to be done thanks to Houston’s diversity and because it’s a bigger pond than Austin.”

“We want to focus on neighborhood-scale projects that have the potential to impact the surrounding community,” Hsu said.

Hsu’s firm has already made a name for itself in Houston by pursuing “neighborhood-scale” projects.

The firm designed Understory, the dining and retail project located on the bottom floors of the 35-story Bank of America Tower at 800 Capitol St. downtown. It also designed the M-K-T mixed-use development underway in the Heights, the as-yet-unnamed mixed-use development being built by the owners of Zadok Jewelers, the Original Ninfa’s Uptown Houston location, the side-by-side restaurant concepts Superica and La Lucha and nouveau-Japanese restaurant Uchi.

The most recent Hsu-designed project to open to the public was the mixed-use development at 2123 Bissonnet St., which offers a range of dining and retail options.

Hsu said he’d like to target large-scale, mixed-use projects going forward. But he acknowledges that the competition in Houston is fierce. “That’s really the hardest work to get,” he said.

However, Hsu said he sees huge potential in finding ways to “blur the lines” between designing building exteriors, interiors and furnishings, offering clients a “nose-to-tail approach, whether the project is gigantic or smaller and more intimate.”

Managing Partner Maija Kreishman, who has been tapped to head the new Houston office, said moving into interiors and furnishings here in Houston will allow the firm to establish connections with local artists.

“There is such a vibrant creative community here in Houston, and we would really like that to inform our work,” Kreishman said. “We want to provide our clients with designs and furnishings that reflect Houston’s unique diversity and culture.”

Kreishman said she will continue to be based out of the firm’s Austin office. But she plans to travel to Houston about every other week.

Hsu said one of his primary goals is for the new Houston office to become an integral part of the firm as a whole.

“We don’t see this as a satellite of the Austin office,” Hsu said. “We’re taking a deliberate approach to ensure it’s not only integrated into the firm as a whole but also with Houston itself.”


Originally posted on Houston Business Journal