An open letter from Bruce Goff

Eugene Tssui (pronounced Tsway) is a remarkable man; a young visionary whose far-reaching ideas and designs encompass a multifarious range of human endeavors which compels us to consider a radically different vision of the world we live in. Architect, urban planner, industrial designer, clothing designer, educator, artist, athlete, and musician; I salute him as a young master already certain of his many and various directions. His designs seem to have such a kinship with nature that they often appear to be created by Nature itself with each design extending into the realm of the fantastic. His designs are powerfully individual, well thought-out and highly evocative. Materials are used in surprising ways and his constant search for new methods and the invention of new materials is rare.

At an early age Tssui was recognized as having an extraordinary facility and passion for drawing and design. I have seen his rendering for a school complex for a lunar community drawn at eleven years of age. It is remarkable not only in its complexity and extensiveness of design, but, also, for its innovative and visionary concepts; concepts which sixteen years later are only beginning to be architecturally considered. His thoroughness in details and insights into advanced technology were already apparent. At seventeen Tssui won an honorable mention for “the most exciting design” in an AIA competition. Before I met him, in 1976, he had an impressive record of professional and academic experience. What caught my attention was a phone call from the Dean of the graduate school at Columbia University stating that they had a student of “superlative talent” mentioning that one of Tssui’s professors considered him “too hot to handle” and he felt Tssui needed sympathetic help and guidance to enable him to continue with his exceptional genius in architecture. Recognizing that this was a polite but permanent expulsion from Columbia I agreed to help him.

Therefore, I expected to meet a young man of exceptional talent, but when he came for the interview I was astounded not only by the quantity and quality of his beautiful architectural drawings, but also by his remarkable and great enthusiasm for, and dedication to, architecture.

Throughout the six years I have known him I have come to realize more fully how complete a person Eugene Tssui is. The range of his creative work is awesome. He is endowed with indefatigable energy and industry. Unlike many strongly gifted creative individuals I have met, he has never shown any signs of conceit or “genius-itis!” He knows the difference between superficial “personality” and genuine creative individuality, and his aims are not limited to personal gratification. He has a larger view of what needs to be done to help others.

In the nine years I was Chairman of the School of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma, and the many schools here and abroad which I lectured and gave design seminars, as well as continuing my own architectural practice which I began 52 years before, I have encountered many gifted and talented students and apprentices, but none as potential and strongly creative as Eugene Tssui. I have never before met a young man in architecture with such drive. If this praise seems too strong–it is only because he deserves it–and earned it in my office. Individual creative and imaginative works keep bursting forth when they must. Revolution is evolution made apparent. Today’s “radical” is tomorrow’s “classic.”  I have every faith that Eugene Tssui will be so regarded.


Bruce Goff

Recommendation from Louis Marines

My heart rouses thinking to bring you news of something that concerns you and concerns many men,” writes the poet William Carlos Williams.  This is the same feeling of joy and discovery when discussing Eugene Tsui, his life and work, and the compelling power of his vision, rooted in his far-reaching philosophy that is at the heart of nature.  Dr. Tsui helps us to grasp how nature’s profound ideas and values can be applied to create a new paradigm for the human environment that is economical, uses little or no energy, can withstand disaster forces, has no adverse effects on the natural environment, and uplifts the spirit in imaginative, striking ways.  He has been studying the “secrets” of nature for decades.  Imagine buildings that open and close like a flower blossom; buildings that swivel to dispel the impact of Tsunami waves or a floating bridge that undulates, like a sinusoidal wave, producing 4 billion watts of renewable electricity of a 3.2-kilometer high city that is supported by a tensegrity column like the Golden Gate Bridge tilted sideways.  There are just a few of the incredible concepts that are being developed and built.

All this is possible using principles explored by architect and professor Eugene Tsui in his classrooms, offices, and laboratories both in the USA and China.  Allow me also to emphasize the great influence and opportunities he has created for young students and professionals who have had the unique experience to work alongside him.  Shall I mention the recently graduated student from Mexico who, after working with Dr. Tsui, became the public voice, in Mexico, for ecological advocacy and nature’s preservation;  or the landscape architecture student from China who, after winning numerous prizes in the USA, went on to become the Dean of a Landscape Department at a prominent Chinese Institute, or the Master’s student from a famous USA Graduate school who, upon coaxing by Dr. Tsui to, “find your passion in life,” moved to Paris, France and is now a successful global fashion magazine photographer who even invented his own lighting system?

Dr. Tsui is not merely engaging students to follow along the usual path of an architectural career, he is teaching students to find themselves, to find their uniqueness and purpose in life- to pursue their true passion- and this has wonderful results.  Tsui encourages and celebrates individuality, nonconformity, a renewed emphasis on creativity and innovation, and abandonment of that which is stylish for that which is coherent, organic, durable, and timeless  But perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of his teaching and work is, what he calls, ” the anticipatory aspect” of his approach.  He engages students and associates to think in terms of anticipating the probable challenges and problems of the future and developing solutions that would prevent future problems from expanding.  In these times of global ecological disaster, overpopulation and social/economic crisis, such an anticipatory approach to design and thinking present a much-needed possibility for real and lasting solutions.

Tsui’s laboratory has undertaken fascinating research:  discovering termites nests that utilize water cooling and ventilation systems with no mechanical/electrical power, prairie dogs that design air conditioning for underground dwellings, spherical birds nests that are aerodynamic, insular and safe, spider web silk stronger than structural steel, wasp nests that are more insular than a half-meter thick wall, insects that inflate their own protective domical habitats and much more;  Tsui finds principles and qualities that teach us how to build better.  Tsui’s research includes showing students how to test for strength-to-weight ratios, compression and tension testing wind tunnels, water flow currents, in sum, how to translate nature’s ideas into useful solutions for humanity.

Finally, Dr. Tsui’s architecture and his teaching embrace all of nature’s wisdom combined with the urgent social issues of our times.  He brings a compelling vision of a future that can be healed and sustained, one that is aligned with the beauty of nature, and the ingenuity of the human spirit.  His teaching is both exciting and profound.  I strongly recommend Dr. Eugene Tsui to your faculty and know that he will be an exciting, important, and valued member of your faculty.


Louis Marines
President, CEO Emeritus, American Institute of Architects
President, Advanced Management Institute