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A mission to promote equity and diversity in the architecture industry

After working in the industry for over 15 years, it was clear to architectural science alumnus, Jason Fung, that a common theme existed within the leaders of the industry.

“I saw a lot of old white men at the top in architecture and I thought ‘we need some diversity out there,’” said Fung.

After the rise of movements such as Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movement, Fung says he became hyper aware of the inequalities that existed within the architecture industry. To help combat this, Fung decided to create the Jason Fung Architecture Diversity Award in 2020. The award was created to support Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science (FEAS) students who identify as BIPOC and is given to an individual who demonstrates a commitment to promoting equity and diversity within the architectural science program.

“When you have a principal architect that has been in the industry for 40 years, they are used to doing things traditionally. It’s how they learned,” said Fung. “But that’s actually what led me to create my firm. It’s so important to have young and diverse architects out there—they are the new generation.”

Graduating with honours from TMU’s Bachelor of Architectural Science program in 2008 and the Master of Architecture program in 2011, the Alpha Roh Chi Medal (external link)  recipient says that studying at FEAS solidified his path to pursuing a career in architecture.

“It was like Disneyland. I remember the first day, everyone was also interested in the wide range of subjects,” said Fung. “That's what really clinched it, that first day of undergrad.”

After working at several architecture firms, Fung wanted to call his own shots, and in 2016 he decided to take the bold leap and open his firm, Jason Fung Architect Inc (external link)  (JFA).

“I worked for some really great architects, but there are always little things that your bosses will do that you just don't agree with,” said Fung. 

“As a piece of advice to people coming into the industry—you have to do what your boss says. But, keep in mind what you would do in that situation, how you would question it, and I constantly did that throughout my training.”

Today, Fung’s firm has grown into a team of nine, with a mission to offer exceptional architectural design, and providing access to architecture services to a wide demographic. He believes that access to design services should be a right, rather than a privilege. To achieve this mission, he has invested in a talented and diverse team. While architecture firms typically divide their staff into discreet design teams and technical teams, Fung wanted each team member in his firm to exercise both sides of the practice.

“Each person has their own projects and acts as project leads. They have to be good at both the design aspect and technical realm,” said Fung. “It's not the most effective way of doing things, but I would rather have interesting projects that are all vastly different, and have a good skill base of people that are well rounded.”

To FEAS students preparing to graduate, Fung says his advice is to not pass too much judgment on their job selection.

“It might not be your first choice for a job, but it’s a job, and there’s always going to be something you can learn, even at the worst firms,” said Fung. “And try your best to keep hubris at the door as much as possible.”