Don't let the name fool you'Single Speed Design (SsD)'s architectural approach is more like a 10-speed bicycle than a fixed-gear model, with principals Jinhee Park, 40, and John Hong, 43, shifting their approach with each new project. 'For us, design is a process of negotiation,' says Hong. The twosome took the name of the firm from the kind of transportation they used to zip around Cambridge, Massachusetts, where each earned an M.Arch. from Harvard's Graduate School of Design (GSD). Though today the firm's principals shuttle between their three offices in Cambridge, New York, and Park's native South Korea via grander modes of transit, bicycles'with their handsome utility and simplicity'seem an apt parallel for SsD's body of work.
Before the couple established SsD in 2003, the American-born Hong worked with two partners in New York at a commercial interiors firm the three had established, while Park completed her M.Arch. Their first major collaboration as SsD was on the Valentine Houses, a trio of townhouses in Cambridge. It was then that Hong decided to leave the firm he'd founded in New York to work with Park. 'The Valentine Houses project had a roof on it,' Hong jokes, explaining the move. SsD has since garnered acclaim for its small- and medium-scale work, from several installations to a newly christened, 16,145-square-foot art center'the elegant, ghostly White Block Gallery'in South Korea's trendy Heyri Art Valley. Through serendipitous circumstances, Park and Hong have clinched a series of commissions from developers who've heard about their work. The White Block's owner, for example, invited SsD to submit a scheme for the gallery after seeing the firm's work in 2009, when Park won the AIA's Young Architects Award.