We’re excited to present a two-part feature on Studio T-Square (Studio T-SQ), an award-winning team of architects, designers, and urban planners with offices in Long Beach and Oakland, California. As responsible stewards of the environment, Studio T-SQ is dedicated to the principles of smart growth, transit-oriented development, and sustainable design. Studio T-SQ created the bold exterior architecture and thoughtful urban planning for Deco.


Today we’re talking to Henry Tong, AIA, NCARB, Principal at Studio T-SQ, who will share his unique perspective on architecture and urban design, and explain how smart planning can help build communities on a human scale. Henry was a pioneer in the architectural application of computer graphics, with extensive knowledge in the integration of computer graphics software into all areas of architectural design.


Please share your story with us.  How did you get to where you are today?

I have worked as an architect for over 25 years since my graduation from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. I started working in California in 1997. Our company, Studio T-SQ, was founded ten years ago in Oakland by Chek Tang and Chris Lee. John Waldron and I founded Studio T-SQ in Long Beach five years ago to serve the Southern California cities.


Tell us about your design concept for Deco. What was your theme and inspiration?

Looking at Long Beach’s architectural heritage, I decided to use the Mid-Century modern design theme as a way to compliment the adjacent office building, which was completed in the late 1960s. The roof deck and the general massing of the building was intended to recall a cruise ship, with the long horizontal balconies and the large roof deck.


Studio T-SQ deploys smart planning and transit-oriented projects to build and reinforce communities. How did you apply these principles to Deco?

Deco was intended to complete the 444 W. Ocean Campus by bringing together retail (play), commercial (work) and residential (live) functions into one coherent urban design concept. We also tied the separate lots together to achieve the necessary residential density on one small ½ acre lot.


What is your personal design philosophy? Do you have a favorite architect or building? What are your influences?

My personal design philosophy is Modernism on a human scale. Norman Foster and Alvar Aalto are the two architects that I admire the most. Their architecture is what inspires me to design modern buildings with a human and contextual scale.


You were a pioneer in the architectural application of computer graphics. How have these technologies changed the design environment? 

Studio-TSQ is a relatively young firm. Early on, we decided to work exclusively in the BIM (Building Information Modeling) environment. This allows us to collaborate with our team members and consultants in different locations. As a result, we can bring together the best talent we can find, while working seamlessly in a “virtual” design environment.  


It’s great to pursue your passion, but we know it’s not always easy. Tell us about your challenges and successes.

One of our greatest challenge currently is finding talented staff. Due to our expertise in BIM, we can work with staff located in China, Puerto Rico and Oakland. Through technology, our company has leveraged the talent needed to complete several award winning projects.


What are you most proud of as a company, and what sets you apart?

I am most proud of the talented staff we have in the company. Their commitment to innovation and passion is what sets us apart from other firms.


What do you love about Long Beach?  Do you have a favorite neighborhood?  What do you enjoy doing when you’re there?

I see Long Beach as a partner in our projects. There is a lot of rich cultural heritage that we can draw from in this city. My favorite neighborhoods are Belmont Shore and Naples. I just like walking around and photographing the people and public spaces.


Deco Exterior

Image courtesy of Studio T-SQ


Deco Aerial

Image courtesy of Studio T-SQ


Deco Night Shot

Image courtesy of Studio T-SQ


Henry Tong with wife Christine in Jerusalem.

Image courtesy of Henry Tong


Business Address: 115 Pine Ave #425, Long Beach, CA 90802

Website: studiot-sq2.com  

Email: jwaldron@studiot-sq.com

Facebook: @studiotsq

Twitter: @studiotsqarc


Deco blog celebrates entrepreneurs, creatives, business leaders, and other influencers who are making an impact in Long Beach. These amazing people share their inspiring stories in their own voice, and give a personal perspective on what makes our community such a great place to work, live and play.