Meejin Yoon situates
sculptural works in
written by william morgan • photographed by kelly davidson
‘Despite a lot of stress,” the fearless Boston architect Meejin Yoon says, “I do feel lucky.” Yet, her remarkable success as an interna- tionally known designer is more than luck. Her firm, Höweler + Yoon Architecture, is busy doing projects from Maine to China.
She and her partner/husband, Eric Höweler, have written three books,
and she serves as professor and head of the architecture department
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, making the 43-year-
old one of the most influential architectural educators in the country.
In addition, Yoon was named New Generation Leader in this year’s
annual Women in Architecture Awards given by Architectural Record.
She is also a mother.
Given that architecture is such a demanding profession, how does
Yoon do it? To get established requires as much time as it does to
become a surgeon, so young architectural superstars are rare. “The
older I get, the more I see that architecture is an old person’s profes-
sion,” Yoon says. “Experience really matters in architecture.”
Furthermore, the profession is more of a slog for women. Almost
half the students enrolled in architecture schools are female, yet they
make up less than 20 percent of registered architects. The years needed
to build a reputation are also the child-rearing ones. Yoon acknowl-
edges that MIT has been tremendously supportive (they have “great
day care”), and she says, “It all works because of Eric, and an office
where I am surrounded by amazing people.”
Yet, Yoon’s simple business plan — “do what you love” — has
resulted in an impressive range of design projects, including Swing
Time, the illuminated adult-size swings at the Lawn on D in South Bos-
ton. Her Parti Wall in Boston’s South End features various planting
surfaces and species suspended on steel cables. Both abstract sculp-
ture and ecological experiment, this vertical park is typical of the stu-
dio’s all-embracing multidisciplinary approach.
organized by the color of their spines, Meejin Yoon’s books echo the clarity of her
thinking. As Mark Lamster, a critic for The Dallas Morning News and a juror for the
Women in Architecture Awards, notes, the jury was impressed by Yoon’s “ability to
translate her creativity into three-dimensional projects with real integrity.”