The Foundation of My Life and Career is Faith, Says Famed Taiwanese Architect

( [email protected] ) Jan 02, 2011 05:55 AM EST
Joshua J. Pan, the only architect in Taiwan to be named a fellow from American Institute of Architects, recently shared the secrets to his success in the architecture field through a local gospel radio station in Taipei.
This file photo shows the reconstructed Taipei Tri-Lutheran Church, a project of J. J. Pan and Partners, located in the center of Taipei City in Taiwan. J. J. Pan and Partners

Joshua J. Pan, the only architect in Taiwan to be named a fellow of American Institute of Architects, recently shared the secrets to his success in the architecture field through a local gospel radio station in Taipei.

Named as one of the 200 Most Influential Personalities for the Milleniums by Commonwealth Monthly, Pan said that the two foundational stones that defined his life and career are the stable source of strength from faith and a clear management sense, which have helped him through many challenges and difficulties.

Pan studied at Pooi To Middle School in Macau for elementary school, where he received the revelations of the Christian faith; during college preparations, his high school teacher taught him to manage tasks according to priorties. These factors have influenced him deeply in his life and career.

Although Pan liked literature, he doesn't dislike mathematics. In college, Pan majored in architecture. Upon graduation and completing his military service, he like many Taiwan youths seeking a career in academias traveled to United States, where he ended up staying for more than ten years.

"What architecture needs is not just knowledge on construction, but the personal and cultural development in America has helped me greatly.” Pan said. Although this period of cultural adjustment was painful, but was very precious for him.

Despite of their career success in the States, Pan and his wife never let go of the thought of returning to Taiwan, because they felt that in the States they are they are only enjoying the fruits of other people's hardwork and labor for hundreds of years. It doesn't make any difference if they are there or not. So they thought of using their talents in Taiwan, which they think may make some contributions and help. In 1976, Pan, his wife, and kids together returned to Taiwan.

When they've initially started their company in Taiwan, the greatest challenge was the thought of what worked in overseas won't necessary work there. As an architect in Taiwan then, it seems that you must be really sociable, being eager to entertain or be very flexible, and knowing the short-cuts.

Yet, Pan revealed that these ways conflict with his faith and life habits that have developed over a long period of time. He said that his experiences in the past were no coincidences, which helped him set his work ethics on training from pure professionalism and having the faith of looking at God, trusting him to make a way.

With a beginning of three people, Pan's architecture firm, J. J. Pan and Partners, has now established extension offices in Shanghai, Tianjin, and Xiamen in China. Reminiscing of the past, Pan is filled with gratitude. When he received the FAIA recognition in 1994, he said that what he was most proud of was not this special honor, but that the projects that received the affirmations were all developed and constructed in Taiwan at that time.

“Your Word is a lamp unto my feet ………….” (Psalms 119:105) is Pan’s motto for success. He spoke about the importance of morning time. Every morning, he must spent around 20-30 minutes on doing devotionals and praying, “Sometimes the Lord reminds me through his word, sometimes prayer allows me to think clearly.” After more than a decade of morning devotionals, he testified that it has been his everlasting source of strength.

Moreover, Pan shared his faucet philosophy: everyone’s brain is like a faucet that you can open and turn off, so we should manage our brains according to the time restrictions.

“For instance, if I just got off the phone from arguing with a client and must have a meeting immediately after, I should shut off the previous thoughts and emotions and focus on the meeting,” he said. Doing so trains concentration, completing the task within a limited amount of time and not let the emotions influence you.

While holding on to the restrictions in time, Pan has a clear understanding of his life through faith, “Our abilities and lives are limited. In this world, God gave us the chances to manage some matters, spent time with some people, and these times are all limited. We are only managing in place as the managers. Even in the case of our children, we cannot decide their future for them.”

Pan said that his children's present careers is not what he had in mind, "Some chose movie entertainment, and some chose fashion design. We can only encourage them for the side."

In regards to company management, Pan also applies this principle.

“Maybe other people will say ‘because you’ve started the company, we should call you “boss”’, but out of all these years of working together with my associates, I’ve never thought of them as employees but as my co-workers," said Pan. "The reason is because we are working, growing together. It is only because of this time restriction, we are lucky enough to be able to manage the work that God has placed in our hands to manage.”

[Editor's note: Luke Leung translated the article.]