With a longstanding passion for art, Robyn Yee Ebisui, DArch, NCIDQ, settled on architecture as a career, because she wanted to do something tangible with art and interior design has a direct impact on people’s lives and how they experience spaces. She first earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology before achieving a Doctor of Architecture from the University of Hawaii in 2011 and attaining certification from the National Council for Interior Design Qualification in 2017. She is also LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. She began her professional career in 2006, starting at Garduque Architects, LLC, then Clifford Planning & Architecture LLC, as a project designer. In 2014, Dr. Ebisui joined Bowers + Kubota, where she now excels as an architect and interior designer.
Having cultivated considerable expertise in commercial interior design, Dr. Ebisui’s day to day tasks include aspects from all the phases of design development, from meeting with a client and ascertaining their needs to drafting, permitting and construction. She designs interiors, reviews drawings and submittals, and works with consultants and contractors, among other duties. Noting that a good leader is a good listener, she feels that it is important to learn how to prioritize the client’s vision and needs over what you think would be best for the space, since it is the client and the people using the space who are the ones who will be interacting with the final design. Furthermore, Dr. Ebisui emphasizes the importance of listening to the consultants and contractors on the project, because they will have different ideas about how to do things and having a diverse range of viewpoints can be very valuable.
Over the course of her career, Dr. Ebisui has worked on countless design projects. A few of note are a hospital, whose interior she designed based around their floral logo, which indicated care and healing, and a center for women and children escaping domestic violence. At the women and children’s center, she had the opportunity to witness the staff and residents when they first viewed the new interior. The children who were living there at the time were particularly thrilled by the children’s area, which had been newly designed to look like an enchanted forest, with the pillars as tree trunks and chairs designed to look like caterpillars and other woodland creatures. The look on people’s faces when they first see their new space is, and has always been, Dr. Ebisui’s favorite part of her career, because getting to see the reaction really drives home that what she does can make a difference in people’s lives.
Dr. Ebisui’s most notable project is one that concluded rather recently. She was the technical architect contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the new U.S. Army Pacific Command and Control Facility at Fort Shafter Army Base in Oahu, Hawaii. The new 433,000 square-foot complex consists of five connected buildings, whose functions range from general administration to sensitive compartmented information facilities, and had a construction cost of roughly $445 million. Often times, she is the only architect working on a given project, but with this project she was working with dozens of consultants and contractors and a wide range of other professionals as well, which made it an incredibly rewarding experience.
Attributing much of her success to her hard work, determination and flexibility, Dr. Ebisui also credits her ability to be empathetic and sympathetic toward the people she works with. She notes that architect/contractor relationships can often wind up rather fraught and combative, which has driven her to look for ways to come to solutions that make all the parties happy in order to avoid those sorts of negative developments. She strives to be a positive force in her work environment, both for colleagues and for clients, and is deeply grateful to all the people who helped her reach where she is today, from past employers and colleagues to mentors and the various consultants and contractors she has worked with over the years. Architecture is not something you do on your own and Dr. Ebisui continues to be thankful for all the opportunities she has had to learn from others.
Looking toward the future, Dr Ebisui hopes to see significant growth for Bowers + Kubota’s interior design department in the next five years. It started out with just her and has grown to three people, but further growth will allow them to take on larger and more complex projects. When Dr. Ebisui isn’t working, she is spending time with her family, which includes husband Eddie Ebisui III, and her two children, a two year old son and a three month old daughter.