Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
I am working at Renzo Piano Building Workshop, located just west of Genoa, Italy. RPBW designs projects of many sorts around the world emphasizing material, lightness and openness to the public realm.
Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
The setting is extremely striking. The office sits on a steep hillside above the ocean, where the Apennine Mountains meet the Ligurian sea. One of my favorite parts of the week is Saturday morning, when I walk to the grocery store along the Via Aurelia while the waves crash into the cliff side below. The Via Aurelia was begun in 241 BC and now stretches from Rome to France. So, when I want to go to the grocery store in town, I step out the door and turn left. But if I turned right, and just kept walking down the coast, I would end up in France in two days.
What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
Right now, I am making study models for a performing arts center as well as a site model and study models for a new university campus master plan. A few weeks before this, I was working on a competition to add to an existing university campus in South Korea. For that project, I also made a site model, many study models, as well as drawings and graphics for the presentation.
Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?
It’s a very friendly place, especially when it's break time for espresso and cookies. Most people who work here are from Italy or elsewhere in Europe, but a handful are from South America and a few Americans. Many of them are former interns who stayed on after their internship ended or else returned a few years later. I used to think I would prefer working at a very small firm, but I really enjoy the size of this office (60 people). It's fun to meet a lot of people, and since every desk has lots of pin-up space next to it, I can see what everyone is working on, how they are drawing, and absorb a lot of what the office is up to.
The office itself is beautiful. It's like a steel and timber greenhouse with five levels of workspace terracing down towards the ocean. Going back and forth to the model shop at the bottom and up to co-workers up at the top makes me feel like I am traveling between decks on a ship.
Renzo Piano himself splits his time between this office in Genoa and the office in Paris. There is a two-week cycle of pinning up and presenting often and then going away to work on things more slowly. A lot of people take short trips on the weekends, to other towns and cities in Italy and sometimes a bit further away. It's a very lively place, but at the same time also almost like a monastery because of being up on the hillside outside of town.
What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT?
Draw more sections!
As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
This weekend, I am hunting for some warmer clothes because I am traveling to Amsterdam and Berlin while the office closes for a ten-day winter break right before Christmas. A few weekends ago, I went to the Venice Biennale with one of the other interns and a friend from work.