Brussels-born Thomas Bercy and Calvin Chen, Assoc. AIA, who hails from Taiwan by way of Australia, have vastly different backgrounds. Yet the former University of Texas schoolmates share such a similar design tactic that they draw on each other’s sketches. Launched in 2001, Austin, Texas–based Bercy Chen Studio has since won more than 20 awards from 12 countries. They credit the recognition to their international influences and collaborative approach.
The firm’s portfolio splits almost evenly between residential and commercial, but Bercy and Chen agree that designing a single-family custom home is a welcome luxury for two people who grew up in dense cities. “It’s rare in Asia and Europe to design single-family,” Chen explains.
In addition to designing—and sometimes building—gorgeous projects, Bercy and Chen also get involved in community issues. “Architects in the U.S. are at the periphery of the building industry,” Bercy laments. Both partners serve on arts and design boards or committees, and the firm took part in a task force to create a cultural master plan for Austin. “There’s no American equivalent to Rem Koolhaas,” Chen observes. “He’s working with different groups on housing for the future or city planning, and you don’t see famous American architects involved in policy.”
years in practice: 10 / projects completed in 2011: 5 / firm size: 10 / areas of interest: residential, commercial