Now that they’ve made it through the program, we asked a few of UVA’s architecture graduate students to tell us where they’re headed come May 21.
Undergraduate school/degree: U.C. Berkeley, BA Architecture; MIT, MEng Structural Engineering
Graduate degree/concentration: Master of Architecture
Summary of your thesis: My thesis is looking at high-tech corporate campuses in Silicon Valley and their relationship with the suburbs of the Bay Area. I am proposing a new corporate architecture that considers the unique character, culture and settlement conditions of the area, negotiating both private and public interests in the determination of space, program and form.
Why architecture? The social impact of architecture was a revelation to me in my first survey course as an undergrad. I was amazed by the breadth of the field and the research my professors were pursuing.
Best advice you’ve been given thus far: Take risks while you’re in school.
Most memorable experience during your time at UVA? Snacking on whale and vodka while sailing through a fjord on the way to an abandoned Russian mining town in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. This was on a studio site visit.
What’s next? I’m planning on staying an extra semester to complete my thesis. Then it’s time to start practicing!
Undergraduate school/degree: University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota; B.A. in Urban Studies and Psychology (double major)
Graduate degree/concentration: Master of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture
Summary of your thesis: I have completed two funded independent research projects while at the School of Architecture. Our studio sequence ends with Comprehensive Studio, so although these projects were not for a thesis studio, they constitute my design research interests.
First, L’Espace Peripherique, which explores emerging social spaces in the territory of Le Peripherique in Paris, a zone of transition which divides inner and outer Paris both physically and socially. Working in the context of Le Grande Paris regional planning initiative, this project develops a narrative of the zone as experienced on the ground, and employs a typological approach for spatial and programmatic strategies which subvert the monstrous scale and divisive nature of the territory.
The second project, Agile: Tactics of Colonization for the Flexible City, studies how the structural, material and spatial logic of abandoned structures in Detroit can allow these buildings to become stages for an imagination of new urban scenarios through gradual and temporary colonization rather than wholesale redevelopment.
Why architecture? I have always had a strong interest in the critical role that architecture can play in the civic realm, beginning with critiques of urban sprawl through drawing proposals I submitted along with letters to the mayor of my hometown Sioux Falls, South Dakota, at age 11. Although I considered studying architecture in college as a high school senior, my broad range of interests compelled me to seek my own path in undergraduate, gaining a liberal arts education and settling on Urban Studies and Psychology.
What’s next? I have applied for funding for post-grad thesis research for Fall 2017. I am planning to move to Minneapolis, Philadelphia or New York to seek work with an architecture firm. I hope to get licensed in architecture within a few years, and work between architecture/landscape/urban design throughout my career. I am particularly interested in critical and research-driven design practices as well as public interest design.
Undergraduate school/degree: B.A.Arch 2009, University of Kentucky College of Design
Graduate degree/concentration: Master of Architecture
Thesis summary: My design thesis puts forward a new paradigm for community development and vernacular architecture in central Appalachia based on the reimagination of a former mountaintop removal site and the recent emergence of industrial hemp production. Situated in a region caricatured by resource extraction and poverty, the project uses design to see beyond the scars left behind by the coal industry and reintroduce this novel landscape into the community as a potential site for agronomic research. My thesis asserts that architecture is a critical dimension for the success of such a project, while positioning itself within a regional framework for development in which the university and other intermediate-scale initiatives actively engage in local decision-making.
Why architecture: Pursuing architecture and design was a very natural decision for me – I come from a household of engineers and architects. Knowing that drawing was more of a personal strength than math left me with architecture.
From the scale of a territory to an individual’s day-to-day life, architecture presents a unique opportunity to imagine a new future and shape the space around us which I find is both a very exciting and humbling process.
What’s next: After graduation in December, I’ll be moving to Austin, Texas, where I’ll continue to pursue my architectural career and eat a lot of barbecue. From there, who knows!
Undergraduate school/degree: Harvard College (Philosophy)
Graduate degree/concentration: Master of architecture
Why architecture? After several years studying philosophy, I wanted a field that was both highly intellectual and also fundamentally engaged in the world. Architecture has allowed me to transition into professional life without losing touch with my philosophical interests in ethics, aesthetics and language.
Best advice you’ve been given thus far: Keep things simple! Architecture is complicated. If you start with a simple, clear proposal, richness and complexity will develop naturally. If you start with an overwrought idea, it will just keep getting more complicated and you’ll end up in over your head. (I still struggle with this!)
Most memorable experience during your time at UVA? Traveling to India as part of the Yamuna River Project, a University-wide research initiative that aims to help Delhi transform its urban waterways from massively polluted dumping grounds to a new network of thriving green public spaces. It’s rare that a design-school project jumps from the drawing board to real life, but thanks to a partnership with the government of Delhi, our work is helping build momentum towards actually accomplishing something. It’s been incredibly inspiring.
What’s next? I’ll be joining my wife in Toronto, and starting work at KPMB Architects.