Tsao & McKown

Photo by Kerun Ip

Tsao & McKown
New York

Firm Description
The design explorations of Tsao & McKown Architects span a diverse group of projects, from lipstick cases for Shu Uemura and repurposed iconic buildings in Beijing’s Forbidden City to urban designs for European and Asian capitals.  Their residential work is equally expansive, from carefully sited houses and residential towers in Manhattan to a retirement community for elder Buddhist monks in Bhutan.  The firm's distinctions include the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in 2009.

Approach to Residential Design
The architects only undertake one or two residential projects a year. In their view, no other project type is as complex or requires as much design thinking as a private residence if the client’s needs are to be truly and thoroughly addressed.  In addition to universal design issues regarding physical and psychological comfort, their process focuses on the unique aspects of each client’s needs and desires - that is the ultimate quest that drives and inspires these architects.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Tsao & McKown are adept at designing interiors and products as well as buildings and urban plans - this allows them to consider a spectrum of design issues simultaneously and synergistically.  The architects are also distinguished by their frequent collaboration with clients to define the potential social worth and economic sustainability of projects, and their subsequent collaboration in the development of the detailed project briefs.

Work Influences
"Our sources of inspiration are vast and varied, but I am particularly moved by the beauty of a great many utilitarian objects designed long ago and still in use every day, from the most simple, anonymous pieces of furniture to sublimely elegant, but innocently engineered, mechanical devices from the early industrial age - even the spectacles that sit on our faces." says McKown.

Year founded: 1985
Number of employees: 37
Services: Architecture; Interiors; Planning; Furniture/Product Design; Project Ideation; Programming and Identity

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