Founding director of Veritas Architects David Mizan Hashim on his nomination as Malaysian EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020

He's aiming to open the next Veritas in Tokyo, Japan.

David Mizan Hashim founded Veritas in 1987 upon his graduation from Harvard University (Photo: EY Malaysia)

Improving the quality of the built environment for the pleasure of humanity is one of the main factors that continues to drive David Mizan Hashim. The architect, who founded one of Asia's largest multi-disciplinary design firms, talks about his personal fulfillment as well as professional success. 

Options: Congratulations on the Malaysian EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020 nomination! Well-deserved, we’d say.
David Mizan Hashim: Thank you. But the true honour of my nomination goes to the people whose hard work and dedication has brought Veritas to where it is today: the Veritasians. I am proud to be one of them.

What do you think you did that was unique as a business person and an architect to assure Veritas’ success?
I cultivated and promoted a professional culture within the company that prioritised integrity, passion for design and a commitment to our core purpose above financial considerations. This attracted the right people and discouraged the wrong people from joining us.

[Architron Design Consultants’] Frank Ling once said residential architects are like marriage counsellors, as they balance what a couple want for their home. Is there such a balance in commercial projects, and who are the players?

In large commercial projects, unlike in private homes, there are many stakeholders whose concerns, visions and dreams we need to consider. The hardest part is to anticipate the expectations of future occupants, users, guests and residents, whom we will never meet till after the building is completed.

What has kept you most inspired about your profession after being at it for so many years?
Our core purpose still motivates me: to improve the quality of the built environment for the pleasure of humanity. I can’t think of a more noble and life-defining reason for an architect to do what he does.


One of Veritas’ recent projects: Pintasan Saloma (Photo: Veritas)

Do you have a favourite project or one that is particularly memorable — in Malaysia or internationally — for any reason?
My favourite project is always the next one. I’m never fully satisfied with any completed project, so I look to the forthcoming one to absolve me of my sins on the last. And all my completed projects are like my children … I don’t have favourites!

If you could have a meal and a conversation with any architect, past or present, who would it be?
Daniel Burnham, the American architect of the Columbian Exposition of Chicago in 1893, wrote: ‘Make no small plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood.’ I would like to have met this remarkable architect, whose heroic work and words still evoke inspiration in those who have followed in his footsteps.

For a local architecture firm, Veritas has a huge overseas presence. What has been your favourite destination and where are you planning to go once travel is possible again?
I think of our six international offices as hubs from which to radiate and discover new opportunities and places to explore. We hope to open Veritas in Tokyo, Japan, later this year, so I can’t wait to learn more about that fascinating country.


The W Hotel was designed in collaboration with SOM, USA (Photo: Veritas)

What’s the best book and TV programme you ‘discovered’ during the two Movement Control Orders?
I recently rediscovered one of the books that further inspired my journey to become an architect 40 years ago: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, published in 1943. It’s a novel that celebrates individualism and audacity. I don’t watch television programmes.

In lockdown, was there a space in your home that you found yourself most often in?
I have a very cosy study with a small, private drinks nook, where my family knows not to disturb me.   


Catch the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020 Malaysia Awards Ceremony on Mar 25, 5pm here.

This article first appeared on Mar 1, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.

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