WATG is 70 years young this year and we couldn't feel more energized and youthful! Over the next year we will be celebrating our "70 years of Design Excellence," sharing our stories of the past, our recent success and our outlook on the future.
Each year WATG and Wimberly Interiors develops a business plan and strategy to help us grow, be profitable, and preserve our very special culture. We have designated 2015 as "The Year of Talent." While we are always focused on our talent, helping them grow and looking for more incredible designers to join our team, this year will be different. With the growth of the millennial generation, an ever changing tourism market, new trends and a younger group of clients entering the market, we recognize that we need to not just prepare our designers but we need to put them in the spotlight to ensure our collective success for another 70 years.
We'll be sharing highlights of some of the leadership programs, celebrating promotions at all levels, and inviting the world to share in the success of our talented designers around the globe.
Our inspired designs are an outcome of our amazing people and we look forward to sharing both throughout 2015.
We are born innovators.
Careful examination of this photo reveals the truths of that statement. Somehow along the path, we have forgotten the scale in which we can change humanity. The happiness of these young boys, and the pride in their accomplishment juxtaposed with their surroundings is a statement in itself. Innovation does not only work on the scale of million dollar productions, but rather on a more personal level.
The kids in this photo are no different than the ones which surround us daily, in that they look up to us as role models. Our daily decisions truly affect their future more than our own. Great innovations have consideration of humanity at their core, using happiness as their fuel. Many great innovators such as Mother Teresa, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, who made changes for humanity as a whole share similarities. One characteristic they possess is the art of sacrifice. Their lives were dedicated to the improvement and equality of mankind, enduring pain in their journey.
This may be a morbid perspective, but none of us will be here forever. Do you want to be part of another generation that contributed to the problem? Or rather the first generation, who as a whole sacrificed for the betterment of the future. Don't let your current "comfort" be the reason for disregarding the quality of life of others. Books are not written for the passive members of a society, but rather for those who take a stand.
Imagine how beautiful the world would be if you look inside yourself to improve. By enlarging the scope in which we care, we allow true innovations to happen.
Recently I completed a 1.5 X 9.3 meter long wall mural for a Thai Mookata restaurant at Bottle Tree Village, a recreation place with an idyllic kampong-like setting in Yishun, northern Singapore. Mookata is a Thai specialty originated from Chiang Mai featuring a special pot that combines barbeque and steamboat together.
The mural depicts an otherworldly Mookata village in Chiang Mai, one set on (and sometimes in) the special Mookata pots. The villagers gather and prepare for a feast on a joyous day, stirring soup and grilling meat, sending delightful scents up towards the heavens, together with offerings of water lights and sky lanterns. With a background in architecture I love taking my knowledge of buildings and reinterpreting it in a fanciful and imaginary way that will make people smile.
The scale of the wall was a challenge as it was the first time I've drawn on such a large surface, but I absolutely loved it and can't wait to do it again. The mural was done completely free hand over five days. I loved working in the kampong (traditional Malay village) setting, sitting by the pond enjoying lunch, feeling the breeze on my face and thinking of the next scene to depict, and working alongside all the lovely contractors who were very kind to look out for me as I worked as well as the wall mural.
I'm looking forward to the restaurant opening soon and sharing my imagination with all those that partake in their delicious cuisine!
Early in 2014 WATG Singapore embarked on a program to help those in the office with hidden talent to showcase their craft. The "Art Wall" was born, and under the leadership of Roger Gaspar and Haryady, the office has seen the artistic works of many of WATG's hidden talent. At the end of each artists' show, all artwork were sold with 100% of the proceeds going to charity. To date, the Art Wall raised over $3,000 for charity.
Most recently Cheryl Heap took up the challenge of showcasing her Instagram travel doodles. What started as a presentation of art turned into a catalyst for much bigger ambitions. Cheryl discovered a charity called Pencils of Promise that built over 200 schools in underprivileged communities around the world. She decided to take up the challenge to fund an entire school.
The Art Wall project has given her campaign a kick start of over $1000 towards her end goal of $25,000 to fund the construction of a new school in Laos.
See Cheryl's latest mural project in Kuala Lumpur:
More of Cheryl's work below:
Jon Lee and I were honored to co-captain Team WATG as we competed in the CANstruction competition, sponsored by AIA Honolulu at Pearlridge Center.
In our eight-year history of competing in CANstruction, this is the first year we used every single can in our structure. In total, over 4,000 cans were used to build the treasure chest and octopus. Every single can will go to the Hawaii Foodbank.
See the video below documenting the entire CANstruction process:
We were also on the KHON evening news:
Although we didn't win the coveted "Jurors' Favorite" award, Team WATG once again brought their A-game for this worthy cause.
The final results:
Juror's Favorite: CANjago: Allied Builders & MGA
Best use of labels: Dream up high, stand up to hunger - CAN-venture w/ us (Up): RMAA
Best Meal: Pirate's Plunder WATG
Structural Ingenuity: Fiercely Fighting Hunger to End Hunger (Dragon): Coffman Engineers
Honorable Mention (2) : Summer Dreams are CANceivable (Olaf): ADM; Cat in the Hat: Swinerton & Group 70
Best Shirt: RMAA
Many thanks to our generous sponsors:
Bays Lung Rose and Holma
The Chong Group
And a special thank you to Hormel for their generous donation of canned food.
What started in Irvine as a challenge to the WATG/Wimberly Interiors leadership group, the ALS Challenge spread globally throughout WATG's offices and was open to all employees. Each office faced different conditions, and were able to improvise...
I loved participating so much that I hoped a flight from Singapore to Irvine to do it again!
Sometimes, instead of reinventing the wheel, all that needs to be done is to give it an update for present-day use. The same approach can be applied to architecture. Between World War I and World War II, people were preoccupied with buildings that allowed air and sunshine in. These more open structures started a movement that shaped modern architecture as we know it.
In 1997, WATG expanded on the concept of open-air architecture when designing the Hawaii Convention Center. Located in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, the building highlights Hawaii's culture and natural beauty with an open design that allows visitors to appreciate the immediate landscape. This includes 3.5 acres of terraces, lanais and courtyards.
Additionally, by making use of Hawaii’s trade winds, we were able to avoid having to install an air-conditioning system in the concourses and hallways. Instead, all interior circulation remains open to allow for natural ventilation. This served a double purpose, as it allowed Hawaii's surroundings to be a part of the design, and we were able to uphold our commitment to being environmentally friendly.
While openness is a key characteristic in the structure, other state-of-the-art features were incorporated as well. These include:
Encompassing a total of 1.1 million square feet, the Hawaii Convention Center was the epitome of architectural advancement when it was built, and it continues to exhibit state-of-the-art design concepts that will live on for years to come.
*The Hawaii Convention Center was designed in association with LMN Architects
Concrete and steel have been the primary materials used to construct the majority of buildings, including nearly all skyscrapers built within the past century. However, as architect Michael Green so eloquently stated during a 2013 TED Talk, wood provides an innovative and environmentally friendly building material solution.
Steel and concrete represent three and five percent, respectively, of man's greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, 47 percent of CO2 emissions in the United States comes from buildings, according to Green.
Wood buildings not only store carbon dioxide, but they also reduce emissions, too. Although building with wood involves cutting down trees Green points to a number of sustainable forestry tactics that cut down the right trees with fast growing cycles - five, 10 or 15 years. He claims North America grows enough wood to build a 20 story building every 13 minutes.
WATG values environmental responsibility, and one of our team members was ahead of the curve by designing the wood buildings in the Lisbon Expo Pavilion during the mid to late 90s.
The Lisbon Expo Pavilion has since been rebranded to the MEO Arena and was built in 1998 in Lisbon, Portugal. The indoor arena holds 15,000 fans and hosts many concerts, conventions and professional sporting events throughout the year. The building's unique roof trusses are made entirely out of laminated wood, covering an area measuring 535 ft. by 360 ft. The design emulates ships used by the Portuguese on their voyages to Asia, and in addition to offering beauty and longevity, the wood materials will continue to deliver an abundance of structural benefits, including:
WATG has implemented wood materials into a few projects, including the Hawaii Convention Center. WATG also continues to learn about the natural building material's benefits. As a company, we strive to find innovative and resourceful ways to create spectacular venues, buildings, resorts and destinations that will be enjoyed for generations to come.
They say you actually haven't seen Vietnam until you see Ha Long Bay. Indeed, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-see destination when visiting the country. The bay is dotted with spectacular limestone rock formations, islands and islets; some of the islands have enormous cave formations and lagoons. An overnight stay on a boat is a great way to experience the calm and serene bay. In the afternoon, the islands take on a warm hue. At dusk, they seem to appear ghostly; an abstracted layers and layers of shades and shadows. At early dawn, when all is peaceful and quiet, the bay takes on a soft iridescent blue. Amidst the numerous tour boats in and around the bay, Ha Long Bay offers a wonderful respite from a noisy and chaotic urban life.