John Ida founding partner

JOHN IDA, FAIA, 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.

Kyle Hamada associate principal

KYLE HAMADA is an associate principal with Urban Works, and has over 25 years of professional experience in architecture, interior design and urban design.  He serves as project manager and project designer on various educational, health care, housing and community-related projects.  His involvement on Urban Works projects for the John Young Museum, Smithsonian Institution SMA Base Facility, Ka ʻImi ʻIke Leeward Community College, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Student Services Center, Sacred Hearts Academy Performing Arts Building and various dental office projects have received AIA Honolulu design award recognition.

Kyle holds an associates degree in Architectural History from the University of Oregon, and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where he has received several AIA Honolulu student design awards and travel grant scholarship study grants.

Kyle has taught design studios at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Architecture and served as a visiting critic in the recent past.  He has also served as the AIA Honolulu Associate Director.  Prior to his start in the architectural practice, Kyle worked in the golf industry serving as a golf course deputy manager and grounds crew maintenance staff.  His involvement with a golf hole design adjustment inspired him to pursue a professional degree in architecture.

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

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 architect on the Urban Works team. Emily is a licensed architect in the State of Hawaii.

Noelle Yempuku

NOELLE YEMPUKU, Assoc. AIA, Project Designer, defines her accomplishments based on their benefit to her community. Born and raised in Hawaiʻi, where ecological and environmental integrity is a fundamental part of its make-up and ethos, she is equally interested in helping to create socially responsible design solutions and thoughtful development worldwide. Dedicated to the spirit of the land ʻaloha ʻāina, Noelle believes in the importance of cultural identity, a commitment that drives her orientation as a designer.

Noelle graduated with a Doctorate in Architecture from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 2017. Her dissertation subject was about researching the Native Hawaiian worldview and applying a whole systems approach to modern day planning, architecture, and design. She has worked on memorials, athletic complexes, healthcare, hospitality, and residential projects.

Raquel Woo

RAQUEL N.G. WOO, D.Arch, joined Urban Works in 2020 as a Project Architect. Her work experience includes retail, tenant improvement, commercial, education, and historic preservation projects with firms in Honolulu, Boston, and Seattle. After living in Seattle for nine years, she is excited to be back in Honolulu serving the communities of her hometown and state.

Raquel earned her Doctor of Architecture degree from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Inspired by her lifelong affinity for creative people and places, her doctoral dissertation looked at the significance of arts and cultural districts in fortifying regional identity and offered ways for creative communities to steward their built environments through changing times.