by AIA New York
Julia Monk, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP, is senior principal, director of hospitality, for HOK and based in Hong Kong. Recognized as an industry pioneer among international hoteliers, Monk created a global brand known equally for its award-winning expertise in architecture and interior design. Today she continues to challenge the hospitality design status quo.
Prior to joining HOK in 2013, Julia helped found New York based BBG-BBGM, an architectural and interior design practice, in 1984. She has been a hospitality design industry leader since 1978 and recipient of the industry’s highest honors, including the Platinum Circle Award. Monk is a member of the FAIA, IIDA, ULI, and NEWH, and is a member of the ULI AP Hospitality Committee and ULI Women’s Leadership Initiative. She serves on the advisory boards of Hospitality Design magazine and Radical Innovation Award, teaches an annual course at Harvard Graduate School of Design, and is frequently a panelist and keynote speaker for the industry.
The Jury of Fellows of the AIA elevated Monk to the College of Fellows in the second category of Fellowship, which recognizes architects who have made efforts “To advance the science and art of planning and building by advancing the standards of architectural education, training, and practice,” according to the organization’s definition. Monk was recognized at the New Fellows Reception hosted by AIA New York and at an investiture ceremony at the AIA Conference on Architecture.
Q: What is influencing your work the most right now?
A: Transformational design. Creating experiences that transform the guest or the guest’s environment. As a hospitality architect, my work reflects the evolution of guest priorities. Transformational design is the fourth phase I have experienced in my career as a hospitality architect. The first three were conspicuous consumption, conscientious consumption and experiential.
Q: How did you decide to pursue architecture?
A: My father is an architectural and civil engineer. His father was a contractor. And his father was a contractor. So to some extent it’s in my DNA. Then, when I was 14, I took an aptitude test which confirmed that art and math were my strengths, that’s when I decided. I never looked back.
Q: What has been particularly challenging in your recent work?
A: Understanding the numerous cultures in which we work one of our challenges and one that we readily accept. It demands that expand our design thinking and design vocabulary to a greater degree of inclusivity.
Q: What are some of your favorite recent projects that you’ve worked on?
A: They are all my favorites. Right now, we are design architect, interior designer and landscape architect on a project that involves one property and three hotels for the same client. We have worked with our client to develop each hotel with a different experience: traditional luxury, renovated urban chic, and family village. The project is scheduled to open at the end of this year.
Q: What do you see as an architect’s role—and responsibility—within our culture?
A: To foster inclusiveness.
Q: What are your greatest sources of inspiration?
A: Travel. Travel. Travel. Travel expands how we think. Understanding how different cultures express their values expands what we value. This feeds my constant need to reinvent myself and how I think.
Editors’ Note: This feature is part of a series celebrating the members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York Chapter who are elevated each year to the AIA College of Fellows, an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to both the profession and society. Learn more about Fellowship here.