PRP Now! Eliah Cappi // Snøhetta

September 27, 2017
PRP Now! is a series of interviews that highlight a current UTSOA Professional Residency Program student every few weeks.
prpNOW! Snohetta

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 most recently had the pleasure to speak with Eliah Cappi [M.Arch. '17] about his experience.

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working? 
I'm working at the Snøhetta office in Oslo, Norway. We are a 110 person firm that encompasses architecture, landscape, product, and graphic design. The work spans from small cabins in Norway to skyscrapers in Hongkong, but there is often an emphasis on public space and cultural projects. Due to all of the disciplines housed within the office, many projects take on a total design approach, and you will often find yourself working alongside a graphic designer, landscape architect, and product designer all in one day. 

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects? 
Sometimes moving to a different city feels like an understatement, and the move to Oslo has felt like another world. Oslo and Europe as a whole have been a wonderful experience, and have provided equal learning opportunities to those I am having in the office. When I first arrived in the city the sun was up until midnight only furthering the alien feeling, but I've been told darkness is coming as I prepare for the winter. The best thing about the city is its connection to the landscape something that feels akin to Austin's appreciation for the outdoors. 

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
Currently on my desk are coffee cups, a banana, lots of trace sketches for an installation I am working on, material samples, and study models from past projects. I'm currently splitting my time between an installation for a Swedish lighting company and a master planning project for a town in Southern Norway. One of my favorite aspects of my internship has been the diversity of products I've found myself working on including, restaurants under the ocean, competitions for office towers, installations, and master planning projects. The work is ever changing and always fun.  

PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere? 
Firm culture at Snøhetta... is unlike anything I've ever seen. We recently just got back from a four-day study trip to Austria where a lot of firm bonding went on, and I can say I got to know almost everyone from fellow interns to founding principles. I think that's a real strength of the office, that despite being 110 people, it often feels like a family. The structure is incredibly horizontal, which means finding myself sitting together with senior architects in a design charette iterating massing options for a project on a regular basis. There is a staff of chefs that make lunch for the firm every day and we eat together family style as a bonding experience. The work-life balance in Scandinavia is really nice as well, with people beginning to leave the office around 3:30 and most people have left by 5:00. Lastly, we are a really active firm and four days out of the week I find myself playing soccer, basketball, at Snøhetta boot camp, or yoga classes with my coworkers.

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT? 
That the fun doesn't end here. I think too often in school we are told that design and fun are over once we step outside of the academic world, but it isn't. I find myself working no differently from school, moving back and forth between physical models, grasshopper, and rhino, always designing. Remember an internship doesn't have to be just placing sprinkler heads, you can ask for more.  

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend? 
I think this weekend is going to be relatively low-key. I went to Copenhagen last weekend to see the city and visit some fellow UTSOA PRPeeps, so now it's back in Oslo to enjoy the Fall. I'll probably spend Friday night out with the firm for Friday beers, and then head out to the islands if the weather is nice or maybe head to the Munch Museum if it's not.  

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add? 
Live, work, and travel outside of the US. The world is a big place and I think it can be easy to overemphasize the importance of our home and its place in the universe. Lastly, please mail tacos... currently going through severe withdrawals that cannot be satisfied by the Norwegian interpretation of Mexican cuisine.