AHL Firm Tour
The first firm tour of the semester was at Architects Hawaii Limited! Known internationally, the prestigious firm welcomed us into their office with open arms. Emile Alano, the COO of AHL talked with us firsthand about the firm and was willing to answer all of our questions thoughtfully, despite the numerous and critical ones we had. Some of the highlighted ones are listed below:
How is your office different from others? How does it affect work?
Size wise, it's a larger firm with 85 people and has been around for a long time, starting in Waikiki in 1946. With the open floor plan organizing the office, the atmosphere of the entire office feels very open and collaborative. AHL emphasizes teamwork as much as possible and welcomes insight from others on all projects.
What are your methods of cooperation/collaboration?
AHL's office layout plays a key role into this as the open layout does offer collaboration. There are no private spaces, but instead studio spaces for communication and it's easy to overhear others' conversations and then provide feedback if need be.
What are AHL's goals as a firm?
As other firms, it's to be the best firm in the state. But more than that, AHL is pushing forward as a design firm. Historically, it leaned more on the technical aspects of the built environment and does still take pride in that. Today, it wants to continue playing a key role in design in Hawaii and offering sustainable services to clients. AHL also prides itself in the 1% solution program where 1% of all AHL's work effort is pro-bono, offering their services to non-profit clients for free and getting their consultants they work with to do the same.
Tips on transition from student to workforce?
Definitely finish school first, it's harder to get back into academics the longer you're out. Don't hesitate on licensure, keep moving forward with the process as soon as possible. Moving up in the profession takes preference to licensed architects and networking is also an important opportunity to utilize with professionals.
What kind of tests does AHL give to their new employees?
We typically test them after they've already been employed. We make them give us a self-assessment of their technical skills in Revit and CAD so that we can see where they're at and help them in areas they may be lacking in.
What is your personal definition of architecture? (Emile Alano)
Architecture is art in the built environment. It can change a thought or feeling into something real, something for people to experience together.
How does the company incorporate sustainability?
We try to incorporate sustainable strategies into each project as much as possible and push it forward as much as the client can afford, offering LEED-accredited consultants and services.
AHL is a large firm with a long history. Starting in the garage of founder Cyril W. Lemmon in 1946, the design corporation now houses on the 29th and 31st floor of the Pacific Guardian Center. With over 6,500 projects, AHL has been able to win 165 design awards with half of them being LEED-accredited. They take pride in their studios being: Hospitality-Retail-Residential, Military, Public Sector, and Accounting/Support, and their design process works into this organization with emphasis on Listen, Learn, Collaborate, and Create. They are home to many UH grads and are always looking for local influence to help push the dynamics of Hawaii today with respect to its culture. Thank you AHL for letting us into your home and we hope to visit again soon!
Marcos Cruz Ortiz
(AIAS Hawaii Secretary 2016-2017)