PRP Now! Ann Charleston// Weiss/Manfredi

November 4, 2015
PRP Now! is a series of interviews that highlight a current UTSOA Professional Residency Program student every few weeks.
Ann E Charleston at Weiss/Manfredi

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 undergrad, domestic and international firms. PRP staff mostly recently had the pleasure to speak with Ann Charleston [M.Arch. '16] about her experience.

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
This Summer and Fall, I have been a part of the team at Weiss/Manfredi. Our office is in Manhattan with excellent views towards the Hudson River and New Jersey. There are about 40 people right now, including interns from three other schools. Right now there's an interesting mix of projects in the office that vary across large and small scales and programs, including academic, landscape, institutional, and performing arts.

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
New York City is a remarkable place where I'm pretty sure I see 10,000 people a day and 1,000 places to eat pizza. It has been great to be here longer than a tourist and really explore my neighborhood. I have favorite restaurants and places to go around the city (which I'm happy to share with the next round of NYC PRP). The food is fantastic and I love seeing innovations in architecture and design happen in my backyard.

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
Right now there is a furniture study, a signage package draft, a copy of our new book "Public Natures," trace paper and an assortment of business cards. I also have a tiny model of a Vitra chair that I won in a raffle. Generally, It's pretty tidy. I am working primarily on the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca. It is a complex project, with aspects including renovation, demolition, addition, and new construction. Construction is underway, which is an interesting phase to see and an aspect of architecture well beyond the scope of a studio project. I am learning how design quality and intent are carried through construction, and how architects take advantage of every opportunity for design at every phase of a project. 

PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?
Even though Weiss/Manfredi has grown, we try to operate with the attitude of a small firm. We all try to eat lunch together and there is a Wednesday evening volleyball team. Project teams leave work pinned up around the office, so I feel like I have learned a lot about that work as well. Last week we all went together to Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi's lecture at the New York Public Library, which was a great event to celebrate the book launch.

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT? 
Never to take tacos for granted. I'm excited to hear about other Residency experiences and what's been happening at UTSOA this semester. In the School of Architecture, we usually have a running dialogue about the differences between learning about Architecture and doing Architecture professionally, so that conversation will be interesting to return to after this experience.

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
October is "Archtober" in New York City, so it should be an exciting weekend. I'm going on a tour of Freshkills Park in Staten Island, which is the new park from a converted landfill that is three times the size of Central Park. There's also the Architecture Film Festival this weekend, with a ton of options for movies about architecture.

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
The Professional Residency Program has been an invaluable addition to my education. Beyond gaining work experience, it has been crucial to view architecture in a professional context complementary to the one as a student in Austin.