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Form Follows Function, Job Follows Education
by Julius Richardson, Assoc. AIA
As a recently graduated Intern Architect I count myself as being extremely fortunate. Not only was I able to find a job upon graduating, I landed an intern position with a niche firm for which I was well suited. My educational credentials include two Master’s degrees; the first of which is a Masters of Science in Historic Preservation and the second is my Masters of Architecture. I understood that being so specialized could potentially make my initial job-hunt difficult, but I knew precisely the type of architecture I was passionate about and wanted to practice.
This narrow focus led me to apply for a position with Kevin Harris Architect, L.L.C. out of Baton Rouge, LA. This firm was far away from my home in the Carolinas, but after my first phone interview I knew it was the right place for me. The interview started with some standardized, generic questions but quickly moved into a lively discussion on our thoughts about architecture and specifically custom residential architecture. I spoke openly and honestly about my views and how I perceive residential design. My study and knowledge of historic architecture, specifically vernacular, has provided great insight and strongly influenced my concept of architecture. To me architecture is not only about what it represents, but whom it represents. Many historic houses of the same period look similar to one another in form and style, but upon closer investigation one can find many idiosyncrasies in the details and plans. I have deduced that the form and style speaks of the culture and region, while the plan and details tell of the inhabitants.
This outlook on design and architecture was right in line with the Kevin Harris design process, which strives to create a culture-base design that fits the individual character and needs of the client. All the designs start with the client and tailoring the plan and layout to their lifestyle. While the plan is being developed historical precedents that represent the region and culture are mined for their insight into the region’s building traditions. The result is a unique home for a family that is appropriate for its site and context.
It can sometimes be difficult as a new intern working in a firm. Architecture schools skip or gloss over many of the technical skills needed for working in a firm. These skills will be developed and honed as you practice architecture. As an intern it is important to apply the skills and knowledge you have acquired in school. An intern can offer a fresh perspective on design ideas and concepts that can really enhance the overall design. I am fortunate enough to work in a small firm where my education serves me very well. I am able to utilize skills I have learned from both of my degrees and have a positive impact on the design process. As I see it the most important thing an intern can do is bring their creativeness that was cultivated in school and apply it to come up with design solutions. In design, and especially custom residential design, clients have conflicting programmatic wants and needs. Being able to help provide creative solutions is often times a more valuable skill for an intern to have than program efficiency and quick production time.
Beaux Arts Presentation courtesy of Julius Richardson, Assoc. AIA
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