PRP Now! aims to showcase the great experiences students encounter within the Professional Residency Program. PRP offers upper-level architecture students a unique opportunity to expand their education through work experience in the architectural profession. Over the past twenty years, our students have been linked with 260 firms in 29 countries. We will feature a handful of students within each session, graduate and undergraduate, domestic and international firms. PRP staff most recently had the pleasure to speak with Eric Alexander [B.Arch. '18] about his experience.
PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
I'm currently working for the architecture firm, Pelli Clarke Pelli, at their New York location. The firm is about 28 people strong and runs about 3 to 4 big projects at a time. My boss is Raphael Pelli, son of Ceasar Pelli, who runs the Connecticut firm. The firm specializes mostly in mixed development, high rise structures and public thoroughfares, and has an amazing portfolio of projects in various locations, including New York, Washington, and even Brazil.
PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
New York is an incredible environment. its immensely different from other places I've lived in, and it feels odd to not have my truck on standby to get me to the places I need to go, but the intricate subway system here is generally reliable and, for the most part, easy to navigate. My coworkers have helped me understand my way around the city far better than me traversing on my own, and because of them I've been able to find some pretty interesting stops along my journey. By far my favorite aspect is that there's always somewhere to go. t'll be impossible for me to reach every destination in the city, but the challenge has made this experience that much more worthwhile.
PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
Right now, me and my team are working on a mixed use high rise off 3rd avenue. The building features several commercial floors within a podium structure, and about 30 residential floors the comprise a tower above. My job has stretched between refining the residential and commercial floor layouts, and working on the building's curtain wall system. We've been using Revit mostly for drawing production and modeling, vastly improving my proficiency in the program.
PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?
Pelli Clarke Pelli seems to be very employee oriented. We have lunch meetings on Mondays and birthday celebrations on the first Friday of the month, and Raphael is very invested in making sure our personal lives are no heavily interrupted by work. The staff is impeccably friendly, and everyone enjoys sharing their weekend stories by the in-office espresso machine. Some days you can even spot an associate or two making lego houses in the lounge.
PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT?
My first announcement would be to really consider committing to do a PRP. So far I have had no negative experiences during my time here, and I think its imperative all students get a chance to feel what it's like to work for a really good firm. Not only is this vindictive of what you'll do in a real architectural job, but it showcases how well you interact with a firm, the people in it, and the projects you get to be part of. Perhaps my passion obscures the reality of 60 hour weeks, but there hasn't been a day when I've left work without a grin and the satisfaction of knowing I've been a productive, contributing member to something greater than myself.
PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
I've been privileged enough to stay at a nearby residency within the city, and so most of my weekend plans have been to hang out with the company here at my new home. This weekend in particular will be checking out the coolest rooftop clubs, enjoying a number of eclectic brunch places, and celebrating the last few days that one of my friends has in the city.
PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
If there's one thing I want people to know, its that you should never settle for what you know now. There's always a possibility to learn, do, see, feel, and experience more out there. Money and merit should never hinder you from pursuing your dreams and taking on the world. As long as you talk to the right people, the possibilities for you are endless... PRP has really helped me see that. Thanks for your help and your time. Looking forward to the rest of the semester, and sharing my experiences upon arriving back in Austin.