Architectural interns are certainly worthwhile additions to the office, but some are worth more that others.
I am continuing this look into the value that architectural interns bring to the office by allowing our other intern – John Charbonneau – to take over the site today and talk about his experience while giving others a peek into how he has ben spending his time this summer. On a personal note, I have been working mostly with John this summer on a project we are developing that is in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is a complex project, we are working through things that we have never tackled before … and there is absolutely no way we could have done it without John. His technical know-how and dedication to this project have been incredible.
Here is John’s story –
Hello everyone. Special thanks to Bob for opening up his blog to the interns.
My name is John Charbonneau and I am a second year graduate student at the University of Texas Tech. I received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture in 2013. Currently, I am working towards a Masters of Architecture with a certificate in Digital Design and Fabrication (DDF).
I am a native Californian, growing up I split my time between Texas and California. I graduated from Highland Park High School in 2008. I started at Texas Tech in 2009, after taking a year to work and travel, without knowing exactly what I wanted out of college.
The first architecture course I took was called Design Environment and Society…I got a B-, but I also got a glimpse into an inspired world of creative expression.
I chose to pursue a DDF certificate both as a response to the trending increase in digital-driven design build projects, and to satiate my inclination towards fabrication.
This is my second summer working for MMA. I didn’t know what to expect when I started working for MMA. I didn’t know that being an intern at this firm meant that I would be collaborating and contributing to the firm’s work. Last summer I worked alongside an incredibly bright intern, Travis Schneider, building models and taking photographs. (If you haven’t seen it, check out Bob’s post on the “Voltron” of Models http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/architectural-models/)
This summer Bob and I have been working on a special project. Brad Oldham, a sculptor and product designer, came to MMA with the concept of populating a series of undulating surfaces with a hexagonal pattern for a Nobu Restaurant in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This installation is meant to engage the restaurant patrons with a sculptural accent that emulates the scales of a swimming fish. Our charge is to resolve the connection details, coordinated the surface undulation with base building MEP, and output a series of drawings that will eventually be used to fabricate everything.
The unique nature of this project is certainly an exciting venture. We not only have the opportunity to work on something that is alien to a small firm like MMA, we also find ourselves collaborating with sculptors, interior designers, and contractors across the globe.
However, this level of collaboration does not come without challenges. As an intern, I defer to Bob who defers to Brad, who defers to the interior design firm, and so on and so forth… it’s your classic tail on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea scenario.
To ensure that what we draw will translate into something that can be built, we are constantly testing iterations of our connection pieces. These decisions and manipulations directly dictate the limitations and feasibility of the installation.
This project seems to be positioned at the intersection of art, architecture, engineering, and computational design.
To accommodate this, I have been using a three-dimensional modeling tool called Rhinoceros in conjunction with an algorithmic scripting tool called Grasshopper. These tools allow me to define geometries through mathematical functions, manipulate complex geometries in an associative manner, and quickly obtain complex shapes through reiterated geometrical elements. This means that as the design requirements change within the project, I am able to quickly relay these modifications using parametric components.
This project would certainly be an arduous task without the use of parametric modeling tools. With these, I am able to modify tens-of-thousands of coordinates with relative ease. Without these, I would likely lose my mind in a horrifying six-sided calamity.
I feel so fortunate to be part of a team that is inclined to afford interns the opportunity to pursue innovative and challenging projects such as this. There is still quite a bit of work to be done. Dozens of plans, sections, and detail drawings have yet to be drawn, hundreds of labor-intensive man-hours lie in wait, and thousands of laser and water-jet cuts are looming… It sure beats mowing lawns.
John, along with Travis, bring skills into the office that make us a better firm, of that there is no question. I used to worry about what I was going to have them doing this summer, now I worry about how I can convince them both to come back and work for us full-time after they graduate.
I’d like to thank both of them for taking time to add their experiences into this conversation on summer interns. I’d also like to thank them both for making this a particularly memorable summer of intern awesomeness. ~ Bob