Practicing ArchitectureInternational Committee
She now serves as the President of AIA Hong Kong, a chapter she helped found. Back in 1997, along with several other Hong Kong-based, American-trained architects, including Nelson Chen, AIA, Bruckner remembers someone saying, “we need to start an AIA chapter together.”
And found a chapter they did. Electing Chen as the group’s first president, the fledgling AIA Hong Kong component organized a series of meetings to fulfill the requirements for continuing education learning units. But it went far beyond administration. “We wanted to create a community where we could share professional information and bring a greater public awareness about the architectural profession,” explains Bruckner.
Since it launched 12 years ago, it has grown every year, with its membership roster now nearing 300 people. Though it is based in Hong Kong, the chapter serves the broader Asian community. “We have professional members coming from countries other than Hong Kong, including Vietnam, China, Singapore,” explains Bruckner. “In 2007, we made a big push to break into China.”
With a core group of committed design professionals based in Hong Kong, the chapter profits from a steady stream of visiting architects. “We have recently hosted the deans of Harvard and Cornell, and architects like Cesar Pelli and Frank Gehry. This has been a valuable way to develop the chapter community.” Bruckner encourages U.S.-based architects to get in touch with AIA Hong Kong if they plan to be in the region.
Raised in Cambridge, Mass., Bruckner studied architecture at Rice University, earning a B.A. and a B.Arch. She then went on to earn an M.Arch at Yale, where she developed an interest in Japanese architecture. This pursuit took her to the University of Tokyo, where she earned a Ph.D. in traditional Japanese design. She then moved to New York, taking a position at KPF, and managing many of the firm’s Japanese projects. In the mid-90s, when her husband was offered a position in Hong Kong, the couple seized the opportunity to relocate to Asia.
Though her career has taken her around the globe, she has maintained a committed involvement with the AIA. “I’ve been a member of the AIA since very early in my career. As a student, I was involved in AIAS, and when I became licensed, I joined the AIA immediately.”
The Hong Kong component draws from several demographic pools. “We are reaching out to American-trained and American-licensed architects practicing in Hong Kong,” she says. “We are trying to reach out to people throughout Asia and the Pacific. We are also bringing in related professionals—engineers, suppliers, and landscape architects.”
The group also recruits Associate members who are trained in Asia.
Bruckner appreciates the value of developing collaborations. AIA Hong Kong teams with professional organizations based in Asia. “The Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA) has thousands of architects, so we try to engage them as much as we can,” she explains. “We always invite them to our meetings and events, and whenever it is possible, we try to join with them in organizing events. We all work in Hong Kong, and we share many professional relationships, so it’s best to be as inclusive as possible.”
Bruckner has had a longstanding interest in sustainability, so she has used the component platform to promote that discourse in Asia. The group is also initiating a new focus on waterfront development and on design around infrastructure, since those are increasingly important practices. According to Bruckner, “if we are able to raise the awareness of what an architect does just by a few notches, we’ll have accomplished a lot.”
Though the recession has not affected Hong Kong architects in the way that it has affected designers stateside, Bruckner, nevertheless, is positioning the chapter to respond to the financial crisis. “Most of the firms here are still quite busy,” she says. “There is concern about uncertain outlooks, but not as much as six months ago.
“AIA Hong Kong is a great community of professionals raising awareness about the profession, promoting design excellence, sharing ideas, meeting other designers, and advocating for important issues such as sustainability.”
Profile by John Gendall