How Rod Henmi, FAIA is inspired by his heritage and architecture’s push for diversity

Rod Henmi
Rod Henmi, FAIA, NOMA

By Greg Menti

Rod Henmi, FAIA, grew up in a world where architecture was omnipresent.

His father, Richard (Dick) Henmi, studied and eventually practiced architecture in St. Louis, Missouri, after leaving the West Coast when his family was forced to live in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.

After growing up in St. Louis, Rod moved back to the Bay Area and is currently the Director of Design at HKIT Architects in Oakland, California. In addition to being an AIA Fellow, he is an active NOMA member. For Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we spoke with Hemni about diversity in architecture, his proudest moments in the field, and what makes him hopeful for the future of the profession.

What inspired you to become an architect?

Rod Henmi: I’m lucky as I had a father as an architect, and it was easy for me to visualize myself becoming an architect as well. For many, particularly those who have no role models, this is difficult to conceive, and it prevents them from going into the field or doubting themselves if they do.

It’s also true that architecture fits my personality well. I was always good at math and science but have a love for artistic and intuitive explorations. I find working intuitively, hopefully poetically, in juxtaposition with pragmatic and rational aspects of architecture to be a richly fulfilling challenge.