About jywa

Our practice was established in 1978 by founding Principal, Mr. Joe Y. Wai, and was incorporated in 1994 as Joe Y. Wai Architect, Inc.  JYW Architecture Inc. was incorporated in September 2016 with Ms. Qi Wan as the new Principal of the Firm. 

We have worked with a variety of Client Groups, of both public and private sectors, in Vancouver as well as in the United States. We have also worked with First Nations organizations; in particular, the Vancouver Native Housing Society, with whom we have worked continuously since 1996. We also work with Vancouver Coastal Health for residential care projects, thus continuing Joe Wai’s long term association with VCH. The main focus of our Firm is, with social conscience, to design sustainable communities and provide support for cultural/community projects, as well as varied forms and tenures of housing projects.

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We believe strongly in the social and cultural merits of our projects, design excellence, as well as budgetary responsibilities. As demonstrated throughout our firm’s history, we have a focused interest in urban design and landscape. We not only believe that these elements are essential, but we enjoy a strong working relationship, particularly with culturally significant Client/User Groups, in resolving issues together as a Team.

We have completed various projects in over a dozen municipalities of British Columbia; in particular, with rezoning projects in West Kelowna, the District of North Vancouver, Gibsons, Surrey, Richmond, Burnaby and Vancouver. Our urban design and planning studies have provided services for municipal government client groups such as in Surrey, Richmond, Burnaby and Vancouver, B.C.



Mr. Joe Y. Wai (1940 - 2017) had over 42 years of professional experience and extensive involvement in housing and community projects in the Greater Vancouver area.  He was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award (2016) and The Barbara Dalrymple Memorial Award for Community Service (2001) by the Architectural Institute of British Columbia, for his lifetime contribution and commitment to the community and the profession of architecture.

Ms. Qi Wan joined the firm in 1990 and collaborated with Mr. Wai on most of the firm’s projects throughout the past 27 years. Since 1995, six of the firm’s completed projects have received Vancouver Heritage Awards. Currently, she is supported by five professionals and two support staff. The Firm is committed to follow the direction set by our founding Principal, and our architectural practice will continue to provide excellent service to our community.



Joe Y. Wai was born in Hong Kong and came to Canada as a teenager in 1952. He graduated in 1965 with a degree in architecture from the University of British Columbia. After a formative period employed by notable local firms in Vancouver and working abroad for the Greater London Council in London, England, he returned and set up practice in Vancouver in 1978.

Joe is best known for his work designing the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the first full Chinese Garden to be built outside of China, and Chinatown’s Millennium Gate, a towering landmark that welcomes both visitors and Vancouverites alike. The “Joe Wai Special”, known for its flexible design, was specifically intended as affordable infill housing for the Strathcona neighbourhood, saved, in part, by his efforts in the late 1960s from a massive freeway construction project. Joe was a committed teacher, mentor, and community activist. He received many awards, including the AIBC Barbara Dalrymple Memorial Award for Community Service in 2001 and, more recently, in 2016, the AIBC Lifetime Achievement Award recognized his profound contribution to the profession of architecture.