PRP Now! Hattie Sherman // Leroy Street Studio

September 1, 2016
PRP Now! is a series of interviews that highlight a current UTSOA Professional Residency Program student every few weeks.
PRP Now Sherman

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 Hattie Sherman [B.Arch. '17] about her experience. 

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
I am currently working at Leroy Street Studio (LSS). The firm is located in New York City’s Lower East Side and has just over 50 employees working on a variety of community and residential projects. LSS has a non-profit, Hester Street Collaborative (HSC), that resides on its bottom floor. HSC’s mission is to improve the physical environment of New York City’s neighborhoods. LSS and Hester Street collaborate every summer to create an inner-city park space. Last week the entire firm took a day off to work on a park site along the Hudson River.  We planted, built a giant wind chime, and hung a beautiful shade structure. LSS has also started a construction management company that is housed in the office called BLDG. I am currently working on a seven-person design team on a large-scale, very high-end, residential project.

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
I feel very at home here in Manhattan. There is always more to see, experience, and explore! It is vastly different than Austin but somehow feels familiar. I live in a neighborhood called the East Village and my office is located in Chinatown which is only a 20 minute walk away. My walks to and from work are some of the happiest parts of my day; even in the 15 blocks that I walk, I see so many different types of people, buildings, and cultures. This city is packed with so much diversity of life and character and I'm having a blast watching it unfold around me.

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
Sitting here at my desk is a pile of sketches on trace paper of a glass pavilion that a colleague and I are working on. There is another pile (I obviously need to clean my desk!) of facade sketches and construction drawings. The facade I am helping design is a sort of "transformer" in a way. It is a construction of huge glass panels and steel and we are finding ways to hide motorized bug screens, window motors, and structure within these small steel members. I also have sticky notes surrounding my computer screen with little reminders of what I have to do this week, and my once-daily mason jar full of coffee.

PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?
The firm culture is amazing! I can't get enough of these people. Everyone is young, creative, smart, and some of the wittiest people I have ever met. The main office is small, as I stated earlier, but we have already outgrown our current space, so my design team of seven is next door in our own apartment. We go to a market down the street on Mondays to buy lunch ingredients for the week and cook together everyday in our office kitchen. We then all sit on our office balcony which overlooks the back patios of the surrounding Chinese food restaurants— that are often filled with clotheslines of drying fish. We also have a soccer team. We play once a week after work and are surprisingly really good...we're going to the playoffs! It's a little different playing in the city. In our game last week a rat decided to sit next to the goal for ten minutes and help me goal-keep — definitely not something one would experience in Texas. These creatures are brave.

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT? 
When I get home I'll tell my friends that I'm moving to NYC after graduation and that the city is completely different than what I had anticipated. It isn't a dirty, over-scaled place like it’s often depicted; obviously some places are, but most of the city is smaller in scale and actually intimate feeling. I rarely see a building over six stories tall. I am so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to experience working in an architecture firm that I love, and that I’ve been able to live in a city I hadn’t really considered living in before. I had a lot of trouble picking where I wanted to go for these six months. I went in not knowing what to expect, but I knew no matter where I ended up, that I would learn something. I'm happy to say that it is one of the most impactful adventures I’ve ever had, both personally and professionally.

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
This weekend is Labor Day and I'm going to a new friend's beach house in Newport, Rhode Island. When moving here I was worried about not having access to the outdoor lifestyle I had in Austin, but I've been surprised to find that I've been outside more since I've moved to NYC than I was during my last four years at UT.  There are innumerable, wonderful parks throughout the city— about one every ten blocks. At least once a week I picnic with my friends at my favorite park located on a Hudson pier. Every weekend I go to a different park and sketch or peruse a new and different weekly farmer's market.

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Not only is PRP a great way to experience an architectural firm and learn what you want or don't want professionally, but it's also a great way to experience a different city. Dare to go somewhere outside of your comfort zone. You'll find you'll learn so much more about yourself than you expected.