Joseph Wong

MAKER / Architect /


Joseph Wong, Founder and President of JWDA, is the architect working on Broadstone at Makers Quarter, the 269-unit, seven-story residence that makes up part of the first phase of construction for the Makers Quarter neighborhood. We found out a little more about Joseph’s life and asked him some questions about San Diego.

Joseph O. Wong was born in Guangzhou, China and emigrated with his family to San Diego when he was 16 years old.  Joe graduated from San Diego High School and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree and Master of Architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley.  He also received a Master of Landscape Architecture from Harvard University.

After he completed his studies, Joe founded his architecture firm at the age of 26 in San Diego, California and later went on to open a sister office in Shanghai, China in 1997.  This upcoming year, JWDA will be celebrating 40 years of successful practice.  Joe and his team have completed many distinguished civic and large scale mixed-use projects both locally and throughout Asia.  Joe is particularly proud that the firm has provided architectural services to the community, specifically for local nonprofit organizations including Father Joe’s Villages; Ronald McDonald House Charities; The Alpha Project; La Jolla Music Society and the San Diego Chinese Historical Society and Museum.

In 2003, Joe was elevated to The College of Fellows, American Institute of Architects because of his “notable contributions to the advancement of the profession of architecture.” Joe is currently serving as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council at the College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley. Joe is married to Vivian Lim, MD and has two children. His son Matthew is working in New York and his daughter Alina just completed her studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

What does Maker mean to you?

For me, a “Maker” is a Creative personality that blends artistry with industry to generate innovation.  San Diego is definitely moving in the right direction with the formation of the I.D.E.A. District (Innovation, Design, Education, and Art), in which the Makers Quarter District is a part.

Many years in the making, Makers Quarter is a mixed-use site developed with the intent to invigorate downtown’s East Village neighborhood by providing 175,000-SF of retail space and restaurants, one million-SF of office space, 800 residential units, and 60,000-SF of open public space, parks, and public art.  The objective of Makers Quarter: “to become a hub for local entrepreneurs, artists, and residents, and to serve as a gathering ground for community events.”

Printers Row in Chicago; Portland’s Central Eastside all had great success in creating a community of Makers that brought businesses, residents, and tourists to their cities.  Coined as “San Diego’s next new employment hub,” people across the country are recognizing that great things are happening in San Diego, and I for one am really excited about our future.

What do you enjoy most about living and working in San Diego?

The outdoor/indoor way of life in San Diego is rewarding in both a professional and personal experience.  The weather promotes an active lifestyle and brings tourists and residents together to enjoy the many outdoor attractions available in our great city.

San Diego is one of the largest & most populous cities in the country, yet it still has a “small-town feel.”  Comprised of different districts, San Diego provides a vast range of diverse environments and experiences.  One day you can be enjoying family time in La Jolla or Pacific Beach while the next you could be wining & dining in the Gaslamp District of downtown San Diego.

Any advice or words of wisdom/hopes or dreams pertaining to your work or our City that you would like to share?

As a kid, Joseph Wong always enjoyed city life. Today, I feel very fortunate to be currently working on many projects in downtown San Diego, including Broadstone at Makers Quarter.  Downtown San Diego has come a long way.  In recent years, there has been increase in housing, hospitality, and mixed-use developments.  The focus on growing our city and providing much-needed amenities has brought people back into the city – integrating places to live, work, play, and learn.

JWDA would love to see this idea of “placemaking” come to fruition; creating a city core that is more connected between people, places, history and culture.  And it’s not just building new developments, but tying in new resources with existing infrastructure, as well as updating, renewing and revitalizing our city.  Creating a link between East Village and the Western Waterfront would further promote connectivity, whether adding bicycle routes, pedestrian avenues, or other public amenities to enhance the 24/7 urban experience.