Bringing passion to his work: Get to know Eric Tran
We are proud of the diverse skills and deep sector experience that our various team members bring to our projects and overall community. It is this diversity that empowers us to create a deeper connection between people and place, in turn transforming not only landscapes and buildings, but communities.
Our employee Spotlights serve to introduce some of our high-impact and passionate team members, highlight their unique skills, and share their reflections on how design trends are evolving in our changing times.
Spotlight: Eric Tran, Architect
“The amount of responsibility and influence we have as designers on shaping the built world is an inspiration.”
Eric Tran thrives where design meets buildability. Seeing one of his drawings brought to life during a high-school work experience program ignited a spark within him, and now he creates beautiful and functional built forms for various sectors. His strong technical acumen helps him envision how a design will come to life, even in its earliest stages. We spoke with him about his own process, as well as what’s coming next in urban design.
Question & Answer
Q: Can you tell us about a particular meaningful or interesting project that you’ve had the opportunity to work on?
ET: What I’m thinking of at the moment isn’t just a project, but a process. In the very beginning of the pandemic, my team and I were working on the Humber College International Graduate School. The lockdown changed the whole dynamic of how we interacted with the client and contractors. Presenting our designs remotely and collaborating in such a physically disconnected way meant developing a whole new collaborative vocabulary to convey what we wanted to achieve. It was a real learning experience for everyone involved, with a big payoff when we got it right.
Q: What areas of the field are you most passionate about?
ET: I’m really passionate about the construction phase of a project. Over the past seven years, I’ve done a lot of contact administration. This is hardly touched upon in academia, so you largely have to learn it on the job. I had the mentorship of many talented senior team members, but it’s still a solo journey to hone and perfect the skills of a contract administrator. Admittedly, there is no such thing as a perfect set of construction documents. Your job as a contract administrator is bridging these documents with the final built product. This task is truly an art, a science, and a bit of madness.
Q: You’ve recently done some work in the Institutional sector. Can you speak to what appeals to you about this type of work and what innovations you are seeing in this area?
ET: Innovation gets a healthy bump when designing and building for higher education clients. Those clients will often want a cutting-edge design. They become more interested in hearing our whole approach, so that encourages us to flex those design muscles a bit more. We were building Humber College’s first downtown campus for their International Graduate School, and together we really wanted to make a statement with that—but on a limited budget! The client really embraced and appreciated high design, and that was a joy to work on.
Q: Are there any design-specific considerations that you think will be top of mind as we move forward from the pandemic?
ET: The hybrid workplace is a worldwide phenomenon, which leads to empty office spaces—and in some cases, empty downtowns. We don’t know yet how that will shake out, so it’s hard to predict how we will adapt our downtowns to make them relevant to post-pandemic urban living and working. It surely won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. One thing is for certain – architects and designers have a very challenging journey to navigate in the post-pandemic world. We need to try even harder to inspire and engage the public, all the while with even tighter restraints and budgetary limitations. Reactivating these urban centres is a challenge I’m excited to explore further.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge in your career?
ET: My biggest challenge is learning to say “no”! Having been a “yes man” has led to a lot of long days but it has also allowed me to grow exponentially in my career. At the same time, finding that work-life balance becomes more challenging.
Q: Can you tell us about a mentor who has shaped your career, and can you share your thoughts on what makes for a great mentor?
ET: Michael Paquette was my mentor in Kasian’s Toronto office. He is the most calm and level-headed guy. Staying level-headed is such an important factor in your own success, as well as is serving as a good mentor. A great mentor will always find time for you. As a mentor now myself, I have a better understanding of how difficult that actually is, but you still try to make it look easy.
Q: What do you like most about working at Kasian?
ET: It really comes down to the people that I work with. My colleagues feel like my extended family. Over the last 11 years at Kasian, through countless projects, social events and activities, I have developed a strong bond and connection with the people I spend most of my waking hours with. This cultural atmosphere compounded with the career support from the firm is unmatched. I really can’t picture myself working anywhere else.
Q: Outside of work, how do you like to spend your time?
ET: I enjoy rock climbing, running, or just hiking to the local beach here in Victoria. It helps me decompress. I also design furniture, and really want to take the next step into actual crafting. Maybe one day soon!
Having recently moved back to Victoria from Toronto, I’ve rediscovered my passion for the outdoors. Everything from hiking, climbing, and even water sports is within a 15-minute radius. While at home, I unwind by going down rabbit holes of consumer research.
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