The ‘real world’ is already familiar to architecture grad

Aubree Park
Degree: BS Architectural Studies
Hometown: Appleton
It’s a fact: The inspiration she had for the rocking chair she designed as a freshman was a plant emerging from a seed. She got to go to the Nemschoff factory and see the chair being made to human-scale.

While it’s not unusual for architecture undergraduates to be consumed by their courses (which are called “studios”), Aubree Park has aimed for full immersion.

The result has been a rich college journey with many high points, she says.

One was landing two full-ride scholarships, freeing her from having to work long hours while also going to school.

Another was winning a chair design competition as a freshman and having her entry turned into a full-scale chair courtesy of Nemschoff, a Sheboygan-based furniture company.

Now she is taking a studio co-taught by famed Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, winner of the Marcus Prize that is given to the industry’s rising stars.

leaf.rocker

Aubree Park’s prize-winning “leaf chair.”

But the pinnacle of her experiences, says Park, was a trip to New York she took with the course on Building Information Modeling (BIM) taught by Associate Professor Gil Snyder. BIM is a process that allows various stakeholders to remotely collaborate in real time on a single building project by using specialized software.

What makes the BIM studio so valuable is that it offers interaction with architects at Milwaukee’s Eppstein Uhen Architects, the studio’s sponsor. And the course gives students rare direct contact with other professionals who work closely with architects, such as structural engineers.

It is the ultimate “real-world” experience.

Park helps maintain BIM software at HGA Architects and Engineers, the firm where she’s held a second internship for more than a year. Now, the firm has just hired her as a full-time architectural intern, paying Park as she accumulates the more than 5,000 intern development hours required to become an architect.

Key lesson: don’t wait

Ultimately, it was her internships that led her to a job. Because architecture undergrads have to complete a large number of internship hours as part of their training, she had figured out the importance of finding one early – her sophomore rather than her senior year.

After blanketing the city with her resume, Park discovered the power of personal connection. She met hers while working part-time at the UWM Alumni Association, which funded one of her scholarships. Allyson Nemec of Quorum Architects was president of the association’s board of directors.

“You’re not going to get a job in architecture just based on the work you’ve done in school,” says Park.

“The architecture community is fairly small around Milwaukee and you have to go out and meet the people in it. Obviously you also have to have a supporting portfolio. But you also have to network.”

A memorable campus visit

Park says she didn’t become interested in architecture until late in high school when she connected her love of math with an interest in art and design.

“I chose UWM because it’s the only accredited school of architecture in the state,” she says. “But I would have come here anyway because it is just the right distance from my parent’s home in Appleton.”

Chuck Schuster, recently retired director of UWM’s Honors College, sealed the deal. The few non-architecture courses Park took at UWM were those offered through Honors College, in which the class sizes are small and students get more individual attention from faculty.

“The very first tour I took at UWM was with Chuck,” she says. “He made me feel so wanted here. Now I love to do the same for other prospective students. I will always agree to talk to high school students who are interested in UWM.”