Architecture Beyond Profit:

Millennials are now the biggest part of the working population in the world, and with their arrival they bring in a technological savvy that the world has never seen. One of those in the construction industry is Arch Jed Tee, a BS Architecture Honor student from University of Santo Tomas. His business partner, Kimberly Tiam-Lee also graduated in 2013 and is a licensed real estate broker.


Jed used to work in a large firm but decided to free-lance this 2017 because of the opportunity that the growing industry provides. With the current administration’s focus on its “Build Build Build” program, there is a lot going on for construction professionals.

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Jed dreams of building the country as a whole, a “country wide urban planning to channel the efforts and resources and create an urban fabric that is sustainable and enhances the quality of life. Imagine a Manila, where you won’t be stuck in traffic, because you can walk or take a bike to your place of work, or taking a nature break in the weekend, five minutes away from your local parks.” With his knack for visualization, contributing and building this dream is reality just waiting to happen. This kind of balance is barely present in Manila, if at all. Meanwhile, in other countries such as Singapore, Hongkong, etc, the amenities of the city are present and alongside the beauty of the outdoors.

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To make this real, people will need to be innovative and very aware of our current realities. If one goes around Manila today, it is noticeable that the design of the city had a lack of awareness in terms of how to manage traffic (small roads) or keep the city looking clean (electrical lines all above the street) or the lack of sidewalks for pedestrians. There are few trees planted in the area and they are usually cut down for roads. New ideas are important to create an entirely new future which no one else has imagined. Less focus on money and more focus on the holistic vision is needed.

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“In an industry that is fueled by profit and overbearing deadlines, innovation often takes the back burner,” Jed says, probably referring to the many projects in the Philippines which were designed well but value-engineered to become cheaper, many times losing their original design intent and function due to the focus on profit.

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It’s important for architects to have a responsibility for the huge effect our industry has on fellow human beings and the environment. This kind of thinking has given rise to the popularity of LEED or Green building concepts that balance Profit, People and Planet. “My vision is to strive to provide architecture that creates an environment that uplifts the quality of life. Creating design habits and that would have positive effects on the users,” shares Jed. His preference for construction style and intent match well with the rise of other projects in the Philippines such as Clark Green city.

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To make sure that plans are implemented properly, Jed believes that the right consultant and material for the project must be present. Different practitioners of various fields of expertise must come together and recognize their roles in the project. After all, construction is done by people for people. So no matter what one studies, or what technology is available, a well done project requires the actual builders to see the vision of the designer.

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Jed favors working with concrete as it is both essential and flexible. The current trend uses its natural state as a finish. “Concrete is very “malleable” it could easily be created to fit your designs while still being economic and easy to maintain,” shares Jed. As an added benefit, there are types of more environmentally sustainable concrete that are a shade lighter that one can also use to lower temperatures in structures and the road. (lighter colors reflect more and absorb less heat)

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In terms of direction, Jed sees the industry moving into the information age. “People want to be informed about the buildings and the materials that surround them and it is readily available due to technology.” One just has to Google or Youtube different concepts such as “sustainable architecture or green building” to generate huge amounts of information that one can learn from.

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Involving the users in the design process is a new trend. Jed shared a great example, Pritzker Prize winner, Ar. Alejandro Aravena, who designed an innovative low cost housing module that is affordable and allows the owners a sense of ownership. Ar. Aravena then shared his designs to the world by uploading it to his site, making it accessible for anyone. Architecture is also about the sharing and translation of information to match the project at hand

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When it comes to the most challenging parts of the job, Jed mentions rendering great service. “Architecture and construction, in the end, is a service industry. A lot of people tend to forget that, even myself. There are a lot of behind the scenes, late night drawings and revisions, and catching up to deadlines. For me, the toughest aspect is the thought that the service we render will directly impact the lives of the users, this is a big responsibility thus it requires a lot of thought.” Balancing this challenge is the ultimate satisfaction that comes from seeing your design built from the ground up, with satisfied and happy end-users.

The final question posed to Jed was why architecture? Jed feels that being able to plan and build something that could be the next towering skyscraper of the city is a huge achievement. “It’s a very interesting career, an ever changing one. You will also get to see different views and lifestyle through the people you meet and work with; in such a broad industry.”

If you enjoyed this article and want to continue the discussion with Jed, you can email him at find them on




Interviewed by: Jonna Bautista

Written by: Rafael Dionisio