Small Firm - Global Reach
by Kevin Rotheroe
From offices in a nicely restored old house just a few doors from where Mark Twain lived in Hartford, Connecticut, the firm of Tai Soo Kim Partners has been creating contextually sensitive modern architecture in local, regional, and global markets for over thirty years.
The firm currently has 28 people and, for its size, has completed a great variety buildings in impressively diverse locations. It serves as an example of how architects can extend a global reach while retaining a local and multicultural sensitivity.
In the private sector, the firm designs art museums and galleries, buildings for liberal arts colleges and preparatory schools, corporate research facilities and offices, hospital interiors, and large mixed-use developments. In the public sector, the firm's projects range from elementary schools to major international facilities for the U.S. government.
In 1983, the firm won an international design competition for the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Tai Soo Kim's native Korea. The completion of this project was a watershed event in the firm's history, and by 1990, they had been awarded many more institutional and corporate projects in Korea.
The firm found itself changing from a very successful New England design practice into a global operation with a second office in Seoul and consultants throughout world. The partners made a conscious decision, however, to not let the firm grow so large that it might lose the relaxed intimacy of its culture and its nonhierarchical management style.
This goal of accommodating an increasing size and diversity of projects while remaining a mid-sized firm working in a large house was greatly aided in the past decade by computer technology, and not just in terms of expediting design and documentation graphics.
In 1983, Tai Soo Kim Partners won an international design competition for the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Kim's native Korea.
Photo: Woo Jae Lee
The success of the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia has led to more international commissions.
Image: Tai Soo Kim Partners
Click on thumbnail images
to view full-size pictures.