John Ida founding partner
JOHN IDA, AIA, CSI is a founding partner and president of Urban Works, and brings over 40 years of experience in the design and management of planning, architectural and interior design projects for private and public clients. As the managing principal for UW, he coordinates and manages multiple teams and phased development schedules for complex projects, while also bringing a passion for design and technical excellence to every project. Since the firm’s inception in 1984, John grew the firm’s reputation while maintaining a grounded presence in professional and neighborhood community.
John received a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of Hawaii and Master of Architecture degree specializing in Urban Design from the University of Washington. He served as an Officer in the United States Army. He believes in active community engagement, and is involved with Hawaii Meals On Wheels, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and Waialae Iki 5 Community Association. John has served with the Hawaii State Council of the AIA, and has served in different capacities for AIA Honolulu as Board member, Treasurer, Vice President and most recently as President.
Lorrin Matsunaga founding partner
LORRIN MATSUNAGA, AIA, LEED-AP is a founding partner of Urban Works. He has made significant contributions to the firm’s design ethic and firm values, helping to shape its award-wining portfolio of civic, community, housing/residential, educational and transportation projects. Commissions of note include the Smithsonian Institution SMA Base Facility, Honolulu Fire Department Headquarters, Omidyar K-1 Neighborhood, Hanahau‘oli Po‘e Classroom/Administration Building, and music/student center buildings at Sacred Hearts Academy.
Lorrin received a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Washington and worked professionally at several highly recognized firms in Seattle prior to returning to Hawaii in 1982. He has taught at the UH School of Architecture, and has served as studio critic and mentor for the UHSA’s practicum program. He has been active in the American Institute of Architects, having served as AIA Honolulu President, Hawaii Architect editorial board member and design awards co-chair.
A guiding principle in his work spanning over 30 years is the belief that design requires a rigorous search for creative and appropriate solutions to satisfy the needs of real people, responding to unique site circumstance and guided by strong office-wide ethics. A measure of the firm’s success and its value to clients is the degree to which solutions have resulted in building sustainable and humane environments.
FRED YAMASHIRO chief financial officer
FRED YAMASHIRO is the Chief Financial Officer at Urban Works Inc., He has an extensive background in accounting, financial functions, and business management. His past experiences include high-ranking positions with the Island of Hawaii YMCA and several development companies. Fred brings a passion for nurturing a team-oriented environment at Urban Works.
Fred graduated from the University of Hawaii with a B.S. in Accounting. He has been a part of numerous community organizations including the Island of Hawaii YMCA, Hawaii United Way, Catholic Charities Housing Development Corporation, and the County of Hawaii, Department of Water. When not in the office, Fred can be found playing on some of his favorite golf courses.
Karen Lee senior associate
KAREN LEE, AIA, is a senior associate with Urban Works, and has over twelve years of professional experience in architecture and urban design. She serves as project architect and project designer on various educational, health care, housing and community-related projects. Her involvement on various Urban Works projects for Sacred Hearts Academy, University of Hawaii Hilo and Manono campuses have all received design award recognition. She recently completed the design and construction administration for Hawaii Community College, Palamanui Campus.
Karen holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Master of Architecture II from the University of California, Los Angeles receiving particular recognition for her published graduate study research. She subsequently worked in Los Angeles and New York City for several highly recognized design firms before returning to Hawaii and joining Urban Works.
Karen has taught design studios at the UHM School of Architecture and served as a visiting critic and thesis committee advisor in recent past. She also served on the executive board for the University of Hawaii School of Architecture Alumni Association in 2007-2010, including two years as treasurer. When not in the office, Karen is best found travelling and photographing the world. Karen is a licensed architect in the State of Hawaii.
Vu Le associate
VU LE is a project designer and associate involved in transit design, educational/institutional projects and LEED requirement consulting who excels at design and producing construction documents that meet the expectations of clients and users alike. His role at UW consists of meetings with owner representatives to formulate program requirements that satisfy the clientele base being reached. After designs are generated, he works closely with contractors and consultants to assure building and design quality throughout the construction process.
Vu graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Kentucky College of Architecture, and gained his early work experience doing commercial projects in Texas and educational design & institutional work before moving to Hawaii to work in hospitality design. His project experience includes stadiums, arenas, auditoriums, hotels, apartment buildings and offices, specialized technical buildings and classroom buildings in Texas, Korea, Taiwan, mainland China, and Hawaii. Vu is also LEED AP BD&C certified and contributes to the UW philosophy of sustainable design by incorporating his LEED expertise to create spaces that encourage green design and sustainability.
EMILY GILLMAR, AIA, holds an M.Arch degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where in addition to her graduate architecture studies she was an undergraduate teaching assistant. Through MIT, she participated in an urban design studio at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
She has an abiding interest in the effects of buildings beyond their sites. Previous professional work at firms in Boston and Los Angeles included both architecture and urban design projects; she enjoys working on projects at a variety of scales, from temporary inflatable installations to multi-unit housing projects to university master planning.
Emily also uses her LEED AP BD+C credentials to support Urban Works’ advocacy for buildings that are designed to use resources responsibly. Born and raised in Honolulu, she is happy to be living in the islands again as a project designer on the Urban Works team. Emily is a licensed architect in the State of Hawaii.
KEVIN LOO-CHAN, AIA joined Urban Works as a project designer in 2016. His past experiences include government/institutional projects, design competitions, and LEED documentation. He brings a passion and expertise for exploring sustainable design, material research, and technical solutions, as well as an interest in high performance buildings, net-zero energy and performance based design.
Kevin received a Bachelor of Architecture, Cum Laude, from the University of Oregon in 2015. His thesis project included the study of various housing typologies and a multi-family housing project utilizing the Passive House energy standard to pursue a net-zero energy design. Kevin is a licensed architect in the State of Hawaii.
JAMES NOH is a Design Intern at Urban Works. Having recently earned his Bachelor of Environmental Design from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, School of Architecture, he is working on a variety of project types including education and residential, as well as using his graphic talents in service of the office’s marketing coordination.
James continues to dedicate time to volunteering through organizations such as the American Institute of Architecture Students (Hawaii Chapter) and Freedom By Design, the AIAS’s community service program.
KRITHIKA PENEDO, Project Designer, brings to the Urban Works team a variety of experiences around the world that have enriched her understanding of collective and community space. She is passionate about projects that are site driven and engage the social and environmental landscape. Krithika has a vested interest in the application of modern technological advances in the field to develop cohesive and relevant project details.
Krithika received her Bachelor of Science in Architecture, magna cum laude from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island and went on to pursue a Master of Architecture degree at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. Through various university programs she was able to study urbanism, architectural history and architecture in Chile, Netherlands and Cambodia. Her final thesis project sought to utilize architecture as a dialogue to mobilize women in a slum compound in Lusaka, Zambia by implementing a new infrastructure and fulfilling a basic need for sanitation, while simultaneously providing a community space.
When not in the office she enjoys exploring the beautiful landscape of Hawaii.