Around The World With John Koga

Irvine Company’s Vice President, Planning & Design, on his surprising sources of inspiration.

His architecture career spans more than three decades of projects across 25 countries. Now, Irvine Company’s John Koga, Vice President Planning & Design, is rethinking the contemporary workplace. From the world’s tallest skyscrapers to the importance of travel, here’s the inspiration behind his creations.

What is your favorite city to visit and why?

I can’t pick a single city! Every place I visit is important. My experience in Tokyo may be very different from my experience in a small Vietnamese village, but each experience enhances my understanding of the world. As an architect, the more diverse people and places I observe, the more I am inspired to challenge the status quo in design.

Why did you become an architect?

I became an architect because of my interest in the way physical spaces around the world impact human behavior and vice versa. Architects have the power to transform life experiences.

“Architects have the power to transform life experiences.”

What do you find most fascinating about travel?

Observing daily life in different cultures is fascinating. Where you live, where you work, where you play–I find the diversity of these fundamental experiences continually inspiring.

What’s the biggest trend impacting workplace design right now?

Workplace, hospitality, retail and apartment living experiences are converging, creating exciting opportunities to rethink how the workplace functions in a new context.

What is your favorite non-Irvine Company project?

The skyscrapers that I helped design in Asia. In a super-high-density city, you have to deliver a multiuse space that not only meets current needs but anticipates future usage–and can survive a laborious city approval process. Getting all stakeholders on board with a vision isn’t easy, but seeing how the completed project enhances the community is a tremendous reward.

What’s the most important consideration when you design a workplace?

My goal is to design a workplace where people genuinely feel good. This means not only thinking about the space as a location for work but also as a community ecosystem. We are designing for the individual employee, the company as a whole and for visitors to the workplace. We’re looking at the micro-communities on a single office floor, in an entire building or across a wide campus. By studying the experiences of people in these spaces, we can create environments where people thrive.

If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

Don’t wait–go see as much of the world as possible! Travel is transformative. The more you can see early in life, the better you can understand and appreciate the diversity of human experiences.

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As a long-term owner who continuously reinvests in its properties and services, Irvine Company has evolved traditional offices into something much more: vibrant workplace communities where collaboration is encouraged and creativity is enabled to elevate business success. The company serves more than 3,000 customers in 50 million square feet of premier workplace communities in Orange County, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and San Diego, as well as iconic trophy towers in Chicago and New York. Timeless design and quality craftsmanship are paired with Irvine Company’s permanent time horizon, customer-centric brand and pride of ownership.

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