The Studio 16: Calling From the Future

by Tim Alatorre

Kyu Kim, Cal Poly class of ’08, calls in from the future and from Korea! As our first international guest Kyu tells us about the Architecture scene in Seoul, what it’s like to work internationally, and explains why he quit his job!

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Show Notes

Site News

Cal Poly News

  • Cal Poly’s 17th Annual Open House going on now! 15th – 17th
    • Open House Highlights
        • Friday, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Bldg. 3, Rm. 213
        • Apologies to Andea Ponsi (Hearst Lecturer), he is a “he”, not a “she”. We should read our own notes more carefully!
        • Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Poly Canyon
        • “This year the participants will be basing their designs on the theme “Landfill Luxury” and will be using mostly reclaimed materials in their projects. The participants will carry their structures up to Poly Canyon, the Architecture Department’s outdoor experimental laboratory, construct and then occupy their structures for the duration of the Open House weekend.”
      • reKINETIC
        • Thursday, April 15 – Sunday, June 6, 2010
        • reKinetic is a group installation featuring Cal Poly students, faculty, and community members with works incorporating reclaimed materials. The result is a dynamic exhibition of innovative installations and sculptures, which respond to their environment either by human interaction, internal mechanism, or natural elements.
        • Alexander Silva’s “Skate Wheel” in Venice Beach
        • Prof. Thomas Fowler’s ARCH 352/33 Third Year Design Studio
        • The case study exploration of kinetic machines and the reuse of recycled or found materials are often starting points in the design studio for inspiring 3rd year architecture students to take different paths for the design of buildings. The use of kinetics can play an important design role in how buildings are conceptualized regarding their envelope system (commonly referred to as “skins”) responses to the environmental effects of sun, sound, wind, etc. The focus during the winter quarter of third year is for students in groups of 3-4 to push the boundaries for exploring the poetics for integrating the kinetics and material systems that are in response to particular environmental effects. Students are then required to use lessons learned from these studies to inform the building design for their won project during the quarter.
    • National Architecture Week!
    • Buildings of Detroit
      • Website created by historian and a photographer
      • Working together to compile the history of significant architecture in Detroit.
      • Photos and background on more than 150 buildings from the past and present. You can view buildings grouped by their names and by their architects.
    • Work for Architects

Rapid Fire Questions

  • Cal Poly or Berkeley? Cal Poly
  • Autocad or Revit? Autocad
  • Parallel bar or T-Square? Parallel bar
  • Facebook or LinkedIn? Facebook
  • Arch Record or Arch Digest? Arch Record
  • Drafting dots or tape? Dots
  • Yellow trace or white? Yellow
  • Ad Markers or Prisma or watercolor? Prisma
  • Pen or Pencil? Pen
  • Mac or PC or BSD? Mac

FINAL SCORE: BSD just because Tim is a nerd and he says so


  • Why are you in Korea?
    • Currently in Seoul, he was born in Korea and moved to the US when he was young.
    • During his 5th year at Cal Poly he was researching jobs and asked himself some tough questions which led to him seeking out a job in Korea.
    • He had a contact in Korea, after he had taken a trip during one summer to Korea to learn more about Korean Architecture.
  • Why does Ryan Brockett know you? He says “Hi”.
    • Ryan says he takes full responsibility for Kyu moving to Korea.
    • They worked together in San Luis Obispo at RRM for two years.
  • What were some of the difficulties in transitioning to work in Korea?
    • Cal Poly prepares you for architecture everywhere.
    • The language barrier was one of the hardest part even though he speaks.
  • What is the permit process like in Korea? How are the building codes different?
    • He hasn’t had to deal too much with the process, there are still rules and standards but they’re not as strict about following them as they are in the U.S.
    • Overall it is a bit less legal, you can get away with some things you wouldn’t be able to do in the States.
  • Does American Architecture have an influence on the work?
    • There is a lot of international influence in Korea
  • Tell us about your blogs
  • What is he currently doing?
    • He just currently resigned in February to freelance for a bit before he returns back to the U.S.
    • He is currently teaching English to some under privledged kids.
    • Participating in cultural events.
    • Freelance reporting for a local radio station.
    • Making the most of the time he has left in Korea.
  • Does anyone in Korea know how awesome Cal Poly is?
    • He was the only Cal Poly grad in his office, there had been a previous Pomona grad but for the most part most people didn’t know what Cal Poly was.
  • How did your Cal Poly education help you to work in a foreign country?
    • It prepares you to work anywhere in the world
  • What are you planning on doing when you return to the States?
    • Would like to go back into architecture, but doesn’t see it as a priority just yet.
    • Currently logging his IDP hours and will most likely be taking his ARE after he gets back to the U.S.
    • He always knew that he wanted to get licensed eventually once he gets back to the states
  • What advice would you give to current Cal Poly students wanting to go abroad?
    • It definately depends on the situation, always be careful when you’re heading overseas, make sure it’s legit
    • The U.S. is only one country, there are many different ways to do things and amazing places to see
  • You can represent Cal Poly everywhere you go, you are an ambassador for the school and the program
  • What has been the best thing from your time in Korea so far
    • Architecturally, the project type, they really blow your mind and he couldn’t see doing them anywhere else but in Korea
  • Check out the ‘Earth House’
  • How is the Korean concept of a residence different than in the U.S.
    • In the past it was a very traditional house, open courtyard with the house arranged around it.
    • Today it’s more of an apartment, they’re very unique with their own culture and there is more status associated with living in the city in an apartment
    • Arranged around a core rather than off of a hallway so the units have views to the outside
  • Clean air and In N’ Out are the things he misses most about the U.S.
  • Cal Poly makes you who you are, live up your education, have confidence that it has prepares you for whatever you want to do in the world!

About the Author

Tim Alatorre