PRP Now! Haley Fitzpatrick // Renzo Piano Building Workshop

February 6, 2017
PRP Now! is a series of interviews that highlight a current UTSOA Professional Residency Program student every few weeks.
prp now Haley Fitzpatrick

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 Hayley Fitzpatrick [M.Arch. '17] about her experience. 

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
I've had the honor to call the Renzo Piano Building Workshop home for the past months... literally, as I also dwell with 3 other interns in the seaside villa (which houses the Fondazione RPBW) on the magical setting of Punta Nave, Genova Italy. The legacy of the firm reaches far and wide, intellectually and geographically, with over 100 projects of various types completed all over the world. While many of the ~50 architects, model makers and administrative team are Italian, there is an unmistakably universal "design" atmosphere that we can all relate to. 

PRP:  Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
By city you mean seasonal outpost on the Ligurian coast? The "away from it all" setting of Punta Nave provides a focused environment for creative thinking as well as a slow approach towards daily life. I love running along the Strada Statale 1 -Via Aurelia, which was originally constructed in 241 B.C.E. to connect Rome to all the way to France. Many lunch breaks have been spent at the nearby beach to read or watch the huge container ships roll into Genova, which is about 20km east of Punta Nave. Once winter happened and ocean swimming was no longer a pleasant experience, I took up posing as a local in the neighboring town of Arenzano by joining the community pool. 

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
Material for the upcoming client presentation, 3D printed studies of a facade system, my trusty Post-it note of the "A" paper sizes in metric, a glass of frizzante water, foam massing models and an array of trace paper sketches from testing plan layouts. Since September, I've been working on a high-end residential/gallery project in New York City. Being in concept phase, the building has undergone a rollercoaster of changes (recently an entire program was eliminated from the project). Our good-humored but dedicated project team works together on all aspects; from brainstorming ideas, to drawing them up and then critiquing them. While many aspects of the professional world rarely make it to academic studios, it's been great to work through familiar struggles here, like attempting to create a cohesive facade language that supports the building's function and concept. 

PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?
It's truly a workshop! The people, the enthusiasm for making, the building, the site... it all operates together as one animated creature. With gardens, a library and communal work spaces, the office is very house-like, peaceful and comfortable. I really enjoy working in the modelshop, especially learning about new techniques and materials from the talented in-house modelmakers. While routine espresso breaks are not to be missed, there is no shortage of hard work, late nights and tough challenges. Each team invests so much care, rigor and pride into the projects to make them meaningful and successful. When the buildings come to life, it shows. 

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT? 
Someone needs to start the aperitivo trend in Austin (think happy hour vibe + all you can eat buffet). But seriously, working under the NYC zoning code has been an eye-opening and highly practical constraint. Unlike a typical academic approach to concept phase, we have spent many hours carefully analyzing how each design decision would influence zoning compliance. I'm thankful to have gained such an in-depth, applicable experience in this area to further develop my own knowledge and design process. 

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
Roma! I'm looking forward to visiting the office's Parco Della Musica, the Palazzo della Civilta Italiana and exploring the ancient Etruscan necropolis near Cerveteri. I've been fortunate to explore a handful of the different regions of Italy, which in reality operate as individual countries due to their stark cultural differences. Perhaps the best weekend was an intern visit to RPBW's Paris office and noteworthy works within the city: from the beloved Pompidou to the construction site of the new Palais de Justice.