Award-Winning Austin Architect: Immigrants Just Want to ‘Survive and Grow’

“I think what immigrants want is a stability and peacefulness to raise children.”

By Joy DiazOctober 5, 2016 11:41 am

From the building of the first transcontinental railroad to the creation of Google, contributions made by American immigrants are everywhere – from your backyard to your favorite restaurant.

Michael Hsu, an Austin-based architect responsible for several prominent capital city buildings and eateries who believes design should foster community, is being honored this month by American Gateways for his contributions to Texas.

This is Hsu’s story, in his own words:

I was born in Taiwan and then we immigrated to the U.S. in 1972 when I was three years old.

Professionally, I’m so happy that I’m able to practice what it was that I learned to do in school and I love doing, which is design. And doing it in a city that I love. So, to me, that’s the biggest accomplishment, is that I’m able to actually do this.

And that’s only possible because my parents essentially decided to immigrate to the country and endure a lot of hardship, a lot of challenges and struggles, so we could have opportunities.

But not so much even to me it’s about opportunity. It’s about having the stability for their children to pursue the things that they love. That’s a huge part of why this award is so important to me.

And other things I’m proud of: my kids, just two fantastic kids that are eight and 11 years old and just enjoying being children right now. My wife, who is a professor of art history, is from Kansas. So they’re sort of mixed-race kids, but very interested in their background, very interested in learning from my parents the cultural differences that they have in their blood, but don’t get to participate with on a daily basis. Hopefully next year we’re going to take a big trip to China and really sort of immerse them in a culture that’s very different than what we have here in Texas.

I think what immigrants want is a stability and peacefulness to raise children. That’s what it’s meant to me. I think that’s hugely important. I think families that flee violence or political turmoil or economic turmoil are just looking for a place to survive and grow and be with their family.