He Gin Lee is an architect who immigrated from South Korea to America in 1982. During his early years in America, he worked construction jobs because nobody recognized his talent in architecture. After a couple of years, He Gin befriended a local pastor, who introduced him to a few friends. Starting with small projects, He Gin soon gained recognition from his community and designed his first big project in America for a church. Soon enough, he was planning designs for bigger buildings and received awards for some of them. Years later, He Gin was able to start his own architect firm, H.G. Lee Architect PC, which has brought him many more successful years.
In 2009, He Gin ran for NYC Mayor as a Democrat. Upon learning this, I decided to ask He Gin a few questions to get to know him better.
“How did you go from being an architect to a NYC Mayor Candidate?”
He Gin: “I ran for NYC mayor in order to bring great changes in our city. In order for future generations to live comfortably, changing the city’s structure design is necessary. One of the changes that I sought to bring was expanding the BQE highway to reduce highway congestion and dangers. However, projects like this require me to have connections with very important people so I ran for NYC Mayor.”
“It seems like you have a huge passion for designing buildings, did you always want to become an architect?”
He Gin: “Yes, my father worked as a construction worker back in South Korea. Admiring my father as a child, I wanted to do what he did. But he told me that if I really wanted to do what he did, then I should become an architecture. Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to become and eventually did become one.”
“Among the many projects that you worked on during your years as an architect, do you have one that you are proud of the most?”
He Gin: “Of course. I worked on many buildings and I can honestly say that I am proud of all of them. However, one of the few that I can brag about at the moment is the project that I am currently working on. I can’t tell you much, but it involves integrating a waterfall with the roof of a church.”
For He Gin, moving to America was a good decision. Although he had struggled to adapt when he first immigrated, his success now is worth those early years.