Architect Yong Ju Lee drew inspiration from traditional Korean houses and the versatility of vernacular architecture while designing Hanok Tower. The exposed wooden structural system, generally used for one-story residences, was applied to a high-rise design, and it controls the amount of available sunlight. Wooden connections called Gagu are used below the main rod system where the column meets the beam and girder, eliminating the need for additional parts such as nails. The design was developed using contemporary software which optimizes traditional building techniques.
The competition jury included Wiel Arets, principal of Wiel Arets Architects, John Bechmann (Axis Mundi), Michael Hensel (AKNW + NAL), Lisa Iwamoto (IwamotoScott Architecture), Kas Oosterhuis (Oosterhuis-Lénárd), Derek Pirozzi (Architecture + Design), Tom Price, Fernando Romero ( FR-EE), Craig Scott (IwamotoScott Architecture), Carol Willis (director Skyscraper Museum), and Dan Wood (WORK Architecture Company).