Venelin Kokalov is the studio’s Design Principal and Principal-in-Charge. For over two decades he, together with firm founder Bing Thom, has lead the practice with exceptional designs and a rich, distinctive visual language. The commitment to design excellence has been recognized by numerous awards and honours.
Trained in both architecture and structural engineering with a background strongly rooted in traditional craftsmanship, Venelin is able to seamlessly weave together established and contemporary technologies in innovative ways. Acknowledged for his intuition and sensitivity to forms, space, and composition he has a unique ability to make architecture work, make it meaningful, and above all make it beautiful.
Under his direction, the studio won the prestigious international competitions for the Xiqu Opera House in Hong Kong and the University of Chicago Center in Hong Kong, home of the Booth School of Business. His work and passion can be seen in the completed Surrey City Centre Library, BC, Arena Stage in Washington, DC, the Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas, and most recently the Guildford Aquatic Centre in Surrey. Venelin’s sculptural designs also graced the entrance of the BC-Canada House at the Beijing Olympics.
Shinobu Homma is BTA’s Technical Principal and oversees the design development, building envelope and construction documentation of BTA’s projects. Shinobu grew up in the Niigata Prefecture in Japan, in a house with traditional Japanese joinery, and received his Bachelor of Technology in Architecture degree at the Tokyo University of Science before immigrating to Canada in the early 1980’s.
With endless energy, Shinobu has been contributing to the success of the firm for more than 25 years. Shinobu is a respected mentor for BTA’s next generation of designers and has more than 35 years of professional experience in Canada, USA, and Japan. His expertise in fine detailing springs from his extensive technical knowledge and design sensitivity. As a result, he holds responsibility in the office for ensuring the quality and integrity of building detailing for BTA’s projects. Outside of the office, Shinobu is also a passionate and well known volunteer in the community and was recently awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for his service, achievements and contributions to Canada.
Shinobu’s technical expertise is visible in the construction details of almost all of BTA’s projects starting with the Chan Centre for Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia, the Pacific-Canada Pavilion at the Vancouver Aquarium, and Surrey Central City, through to more recent projects such as the Arena Stage Theatre in Washington DC and the City Central Library and Guildford Aquatic Centre in Surrey. “Architecture should be like ballet,” Shinobu notes, “where you cannot see the sweat and other signs of effort – only beauty and simplicity.”