master of architecture candidate, 2015 | washington university in st. louis | sam fox school of design + visual arts
It’s that time of the school year again. There is less than one week until final review, perfect weather, and the smell of summer wafts through the air. Over the past month and half, I’ve been juggling studio, other classes, applying for scholarships, and doing everything I could to land an internship this summer.
I spent a good portion of my spring break updating and refining my portfolio and resume. Even with the short and limited timeframe I was working with, I solicited feedback and suggestions from a plethora of people from various backgrounds, not just architects.
While considering my options for this summer, many noted that while in school there is a unique opportunity to explore different firms and facets of the architecture field through internships. Last summer, I had a fantastic and unique experience at Christner, Inc. This summer, I was interested in exploring a different type of firm and work. Since I’m new to this field, now is my opportunity to figure out and explore where I might fit once I start my career (yes, it still scares me restarting my career at 33 years old).
Back in March, I hit the career fair here at school and spoke to eleven St. Louis firms. I was fortunate enough to get some interviews from that effort at Clayco, Mackey Mitchell Architects, and CannonDesign. All three are fantastic firms and very different from each other. Clayco is a large design/build construction firm based here in St. Louis and Chicago and the opportunity there was within their Virtual Design and Construction group which aligned with my technological background and nerdiness. Mackey Mitchell Architects is a small St. Louis firm that works mostly in the higher education and athletic facility area with projects spanning across the country. CannonDesign is a large (for architecture firms, ~1,000 people globally) design firm with a broad range of work with a tighter focus on design.
The interviews with the firms all went very well and I was excited about the potential of working at any of them. I was humbled to receive offers from Clayco and CannonDesign. This was a really tough decision as both were very different firms and would be very different experiences. Ultimately, it came down to my desire to get a more architecture focused experience this summer since I am new to this field and I haven’t had that experience before. I’m extremely excited to be joining CannonDesign this summer and exploring another facet of this field that I’m now a part of.
I love drawing and sketching. It’s a way to problem solve, communicate, and free the mind. There is a distinct difference between drawing and sketching though. Sketching is loose and imprecise. Conversely, drawing introduces dimension, precision, and even scale. Both are very valuable and I enjoy doing both. However, there are times when one must create a drawing that can seem like a task. Whether its the amount of time, the painstaking detail, or fear of “not knowing,” it can make drawing a scary act. This feeling of drawing as “task” doesn’t necessarily go away and its not important that the feeling be eradicated. Usually that feeling means you’re about to create something great and its the way in which we react to that feeling that will make these types of drawings less of a task and more of a creation of passion.
Over the past month, an exhibition, Kampgrounds of America: The Commodification of Camping, has been on display in Givens Hall. This is an exhibition by Martin Hogue, an architect and landscape architect. The exhibition is not a comprehensive history of camping, but an analysis of the evolving cultural experience of camping in America. The drawings in the exhibit are beautiful, simple, and informative. For example, he catalogued every KOA campground location that has ever existed and plotted it on a drawing over 8ft tall (see it here on Cargo Collective). The drawing essentially took a matrix in Excel of all these campgrounds and turned it into a visual history of KOAs existence. The point of this post is not to focus on the exhibition (although we could go on for hours because it is such as fascinating project). I had the opportunity to hear Martin speak last week. He spoke about this exhibition and some of his other fascinating work, but towards the end of his presentation he focused on four “tips” when it comes to creating drawings or what he calls “excessive surveying.” It was these four tips that allowed me to related to his work and how he approached the task of making these beautiful, but information packed drawings. So here are Martin Hogue’s four tips for tackling the task of drawing:
I don’t walk away from too many lectures of visiting architects, artists, etc. with something that I can use. I’ve had the same conundrums and it was comforting to know that even those that do this for a living have similar feelings. So, next time you need to create a drawing remember Martin’s four tips and drawing isn’t a “task” anymore but a creation that no one else is going to do.