Fiona [Yee Sang] Wong
Bachelor of Architecture
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
The University of Texas at Austin, 2018
Where did you grow up?
I lived 7 years in Zhongshan, China, 7 years in Suzhou, 1 year in Canada, then 6 years in Austin. My 7 years in Zhongshan was the most influential time of my life. During those 7 years, I was in a military-style boarding school living an extremely rigid lifestyle. My day would go as follows: waking up in my uniform, morning exercise at six, sitting in classes for 12 hours before finally crashing on a hardwood bed at the end of the night. In those 7 years, valuable lessons were deeply instilled into my being: self-discipline, frugality and diligence.
What motivated you to study architecture?
My engagement in architecture began with the desire to understand my parents’ architectural work in China. Since then, I have formed a more personal passion for the discipline. It is this malleable flame that has been constantly tempered and reformed, but the pursuit for beauty has always remained a consistent theme. At times I sought to broaden my scope of knowledge through other disciplines, while more current times, the integration of other disciplines has motivated me to continue pursuing architecture. However, beautiful drawings have always been an inexhaustible source of joy for me.
What do you like doing aside from architecture?
I love rock-climbing and group hiking. I am fascinated by the psychological dynamics of group hiking. For example, I find it more difficult to hike in the back of the row than in the front leading while some of my friends find the opposite. It is difficult to feel like you are constantly catching up when you are in the back. Vice versa, other people - not I - enjoy making sure everybody is safe by staying behind. Another interesting thing about hiking I found is that the hike is easier if you focus only on each step. Looking ahead to how much you have to overcome will only frustrate and hinder you; a striking parallel I have found in life.
Analog or digital?
I believe analog is the tool for externalizing intuitive thoughts, and digital is for externalizing the rational thoughts. I believe that all designs, architectural and non-architectural, must draw advantages from both media. As a result of that, my favorite media include hybrid of hand-drawn lines overlaid with digital rendering, model photographs overlaid with digital drawing tablet lines, and sketches traced with CAD lines.
What's a valuable memory or experience from architecture school so far?
I have gotten design excellence award twice during my three years of my architectural education, however, the first time was a valuable learning experience. After the first award, I felt an internal accumulation of expectations weighing me down; a burden that mentally crushed me. Over a two year period, I learned to let it go, but more importantly, to - first and foremost - take care of myself. Additionally, I realized that my most suitable approach to design is to treat the narrative as the crux to a project’s success.
What are you reading?
I am reading Creativity Inc., the story of creation of Pixar. This is also one of the books featured on the 2016 Mark Zuckerberg book list.