Four Questions For Joey Shimoda, The Man / Genius / Architect Behind The Wheeler
A few things to know about Joey Shimoda right off the bat: He’s been an architect for almost 30 years. He’s based in Los Angeles. His first job after school was working with legendary architect Frank Gehry. And his first Brooklyn-based project is The Wheeler.
Shimoda and his team were tasked with turning the original 19th-century Wheeler building into a modern office space; with preserving the Brooklyn heritage while embracing visionary design. Here’s how he did it.
HOW DID YOU APPROACH THE WHEELER PROJECT?
Coming from the West coast and doing a lot of work in Los Angeles, well… Los Angeles is not the kind of city that New York and Brooklyn is. Working in Brooklyn is kind of like a fantasy idea, because it has this memory of what an original American city was like. And thats really where our inspirations are coming from, the context, the neighborhood, the history of Brooklyn.
YOU’VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR THIRTY YEARS. HOW DO YOU STAY INSPIRED?
I always wanted to be an artist, which meant that everything in the world was important to look at — everything could be a passion, an influence. Everything could be an inspiration. I think I still carry that with me. I have a lot of different interests that make my day unexpected, so I am able to find things within that to stay inspired. And the people I work with all bring a different energy to every project.
MOST REWARDING PART OF THE JOB?
The idea that we made a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes we’ll come into projects, and we really won’t know how we’re going to make them better—oftentimes we’re doing remodels and renovations—and I think the most exciting thing is to be able to come back with ideas that no one thought of, and to actually change people’s perceptions about a place that they thought was previously ugly or uninteresting.
…AND THE MOST CHALLENGING PART?
I think the most challenging part of any architect’s job is to really be able to create something meaningful on a personal level for the client, but then also on an architectural level and an interiors level. What are we contributing that is going to make people’s lives better, to make buildings better, to make the environment better? That seems to be the most difficult thing. The second most difficult thing is to try to do all that with creativity and innovation while being mindful of what things cost.
Follow Joey and his team at Shimoda Design Group on Instagram at @sdgarc.