One of the most fascinating neighbors I have had the pleasure of meeting is Architect David Hyun. While walking the neighborhood a year ago, Donna and I met David Hyun in front of his striking residence on Redesdale Avenue. It is a house I had always been curious about, with its seven- gabled roof of blue ceramic tiles. To our surprise, David invited us in not only to give us a home tour, but to relate his fascinating life story and that of his great father, the late Reverend Soon Hyun, one of the primary figures in the establishment of the Republic of Korea. The Reverend Soon Hyun’s influence in creating a free and independent Korea shaped the thinking of his youngest son, David. He grew up as a political refuge in Hawaii and as a student, excelled in math and science. He graduated from the University of Hawaii in mathematics and physics, but soon saw that his real love was for architecture. After graduation, he made his way to SouthernCalifornia determined to be an architect. He took a few night classes at the USC School of Architecture while working janitorial jobs and studied during his lunch breaks. He passed the state licensing exam on his first try! His engaging personality and willingness to learn were immediately recognized by his contemporaries, and he soon found work in the leading architectural firms in Los Angeles. During his early years, he was associated with A. Quincy Jones, Jr., Neutra and Alexander, and Arnet & David, some of the leading architectural firms of the day.David opened his own architectural practice, David Hyun Associates, Inc. in 1953. His interpretative architectural designs express a philosophy that “the architecture of the present best expresses the hope of the future by uniting not only with the past, but by joining cultures both east and west.”
His greatest architectural and cultural achievement was the establishment of the Japanese Village Plaza, which transformed Little Tokyo in Los Angeles from an urban slum into a thriving urban community in the early 1980s. David’s experience over four decades of real estate development, financing, contracting, engineering and architecture, as well as his passion for uniting people both east and west, uniquely prepared him for this undertaking. In a culture of “it can’t be done”, David, armed with his vision and determination, managed to unite the interests of private, institutional, community and government resources to revitalize a neighborhood against seemingly impossible odds. For this contribution alone, our community owes a debt of gratitude to David Hyun.