People to Watch 2012: Tim Lai and Eliza Ho

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From the August 9, 2012 edition

Tim Lai and Eliza Ho are an architect and designer by trade, but their real talent is juggling.

The husband and wife started their boutique architecture and design firm two years ago and have created beautiful, streamlined spaces for Grandview’s Glass Axis, a multiuse art studio and gallery, and the local business Candle Lab. They are currently designing Clintonville’s City Beet Cafe next to Pattycake Bakery. While their design firm’s fresh, artistic concepts have wowed clients, Ho and Lai’s passion projects are what really get their creative juices flowing.

“We’re really more idea-driven, and the common theme running through all the projects we realized this year is from idea to reality,” Ho said.

The couple’s most recent development is Dinin’ Hall, an open-air, brightly sunlit space that offers food truck patrons a sociable, communal sit-down dining experience. They converted an old loading dock at 400 West Rich into a dining room with space outside for local food trucks to congregate.

The space epitomizes one of the couple’s core philosophies.

“It’s about utilizing what you already have. That’s the whole point of Dinin’ Hall. We’re not building from the ground up, we see something that has the potential,” Lai said.

There’s no better example of the “utilizing what you already have” concept than the SoHud Tree and the Glen Echo Bird community murals designed by Tim Lai Architect. An original art project the two created — an exhibit tracing the history of all Asian cultures in central Ohio — premiered at this spring’s Asian Festival and will be on display at the downtown Columbus Metropolitan Library in September. They hope to continually add to the exhibit and include Asian histories encompassing all of Ohio.

Even though Ho and Lai maintain a diversity and flexibility with all their projects, one constant remains: progress.

“We really focus on problem solving to create a more holistic solution for all kinds of people, not just business, but institutions, nonprofit organizations to help them grow, move forward and achieve something they weren’t able to before,” Lai said.

Entertainer: Justin Golak >>