PRP Now! Aaron McMurry // KieranTimberlake

November 6, 2019
PRP Now! is a series of interviews that highlight a current UTSOA Professional Residency Program student every few weeks.

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
KieranTimberlake is based out of Philadelphia. KT is a medium sized office with just under 100 employees. While perhaps best known for their campus and higher education projects, KT has an intricate portfolio of projects ranging from urban plazas to temporary pavilions. KT is perhaps best known for their integration of design research within its design process. Each project team is comprised of a handful of architectural designers in addition to two or three non-architectural research staff who specialize in a variety of topics from sustainable forestry to mechanical engineering to computational algorithms. KT's research team has created various industry tools such as Tally and Roast.

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
Philadelphia is a great city with a lot of history and a lot to offer. Granted I have only been in the city for six months and have a lot to learn, I consider Philadelphia a little big city. It has great city infrastructure and civic presence but does so within a relatively small footprint. I enjoy the rich history of the city and how the old has been allowed to co-exist with new developments. It is very typical to see Brownstone rowhomes next to glass towers. In addition to the structure of the city, the people are great. Staying true to their independent quaker founder, Philadelphians are smart, caring and driven individuals. Philadelphians have a lot of pride in their city and won't hesitate to tell you.

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
I am actually writing this away from my desk, but off the top of my head...I have a very large stack of trace paper with sketches ranging from massing strategies to interior circulation to facade rhythms and repetitions. I also have various lunch and learn items that will probably not make it back to Texas.

PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?
The firm culture of KT is one of constant questioning; nothing is assumed - many things are tested. I had the luxury of starting a project from its beginnings which gave me a unique vantage point to see where the firm holds its values and how they direct them to the design. The day to day working process is very scientific. What begins as a question may lead into a week long series of studies in which variables are isolated and tested within various control groups. For example, during the programming phase of our project, I was tasked with a series of studies on lecture hall design that began with a question challenging the conventional method in which lecture halls are laid out. This lead to an uncountable amount of test layouts each one iterating a certain aspect of the space itself (space between seats, size per occupant, tiers vs no tiers, viewing angle, distance from speaker etc..). This series of studies while started by me is one that is still continuing to be tweaked and tested today as out project heads into Schematic Design. 

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT? 
 Don't get too comfortable with your working patterns, school is an excellent and safe space to experiment.

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
Need to catch up on some school work actually, but I am planning on heading up to North Philly to check out Snøhetta's new library for Temple University! May go to the Italian market in South Philly tomorrow.

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
If you haven't already, consider applying to the PRP program! You'll learn so much that school cannot teach you. The set time frame of six months really allows you time to experiment and test out a firm's culture in a way that a typical summer internship does not.