When Stephen Chung looks at a building, he sees different things than the rest of us. There's the light, first of all -- how it streams in through the windows and flows through rooms. Then, there's the layout; does it reflect what goes on in the rooms? Finally, there's the construction. Is it well-built?What types of materials were chosen? Stephen knows that each element is always a choice, after all. But one thing was never up for debate: Stephen was destined to be an architect.
When most other kids on the Sugarbush Mountain chairlift were plotting how fast they'd roar down Jester, Stephen gazed down at the web of trails and thought, "Well, that's just neat." Somebody's job was to draw a map of trails and then have them built, and that was the coolest thing ever to the nine-year-old Albany native. His doctor dad hoped his boy would follow suit or become a lawyer, but he pretty much knew that wouldn't happen: by ninth grade, Stephen was signing his homework “Stephen K. Chung & Associates.”
Stephen would go on to earn a master's in architecture at Harvard University and teach at Cornell and RISD, among others, as well as work with some of the most prestigious architecture firms and names in the world, including Richard Meier & Partners, Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture and Engineering, and Philippe Starck, who might have impressed Stephen the most. Starck believes in democratic design, in the idea that quality pieces should be accessible to everyone — from toothbrushes at Target to high-end sofas in the Design Center. Stephen believes this too, to the point where he's switched paths to produce and host a PBS show called Cool Spaces, which hunts out the best-designed spaces in the world and informs everyone about how to spot good design and why it matters. If that's not enough, he's made the final rounds of the entrepreneurial reality show Shark Tank for his creation of MyTown.net, a social-media and community site for folks in the suburbs. And if there's any downtime, you can be sure Stephen's just looking at buildings, you know, in that way that he does.