PRP Now! Joanne Koola // LMN Architects

September 22, 2016
PRP Now! is a series of interviews that highlight a current UTSOA Professional Residency Program student every few weeks.
Kola PRP now

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 Joanne Koola [B.Arch. '17] about her experience. 

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
I'm working at LMN Architects in Seattle, Washington. We're led by nine partners that are deeply involved in every aspect of the firm. The firm is organized into loose teams that range anywhere from 5-60 people. Teams are formed based on the needs of a project and ensure a mix of expertise and skill. The office is set up as an open floor plan with no hierarchy in seating. The partners sit at the same desks that we all do. People move around based on the projects they're currently working on and can easily roll their desk to their next station. LMN is growing pretty rapidly so the office ranges in age from experienced architects to fresh-faced graduates. With over 150 people, we take over two and a half floors of the Norton building right in the center of Downtown Seattle. 

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
Seattle is living up to all of my expectations. I stopped by three years ago and knew I had to come back and now I can't imagine being anywhere else. Seattle is just big enough of a city to have the chaos and excitement of stumbling into new places and people. Yet, it's also small enough to feel like home. I've never seen a dense city so perfectly situated within a backdrop of mountains and lakes. If I ever need a break from city life there's a greenbelt to hike just around the corner. One of my favorite aspects of Seattle is being able to walk everywhere. I walk a little over a mile to work every morning and it's one my favorite parts of the day. 

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
LMN has a strong "maker" culture. We believe building models is an integral part of the design process. Over the last three months I've produced countless models and I still have remnants of each. Currently the most valuable object on my desk is the 3D print miniature of an intense design build competition we just finished and won! Other than that, my daily iced mocha pulls in as the second most important  item on my desk among a sea of draft renderings.

PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?
The firm culture is one of my favorite aspects of LMN. I really enjoy coming to work because of the people I work with. As a large office of over 150 people I expected the atmosphere to be overwhelming. Instead, it's somehow intimate. We have YoCo (Year of Collaboration) Presentations almost every Wednesday, Lunch & Learns every Thursday, and a weekly in-house happy hour (Beer Share) every Thursday at 4:30. Beer Share allows people in the office to share a personal interest, vacation story, or side project. We've had everything from pictures of a trip to Dubai to a lesson on Quantum Mechanics.

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT? 
I think I'm moving to Seattle...

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
My coworkers and I are planning a trip to go hiking up to some hot springs! 

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I've loved Seattle for years but I was still concerned about moving to a new city for six months with no one I knew. Three months in, I'm so glad I made the move. My coworkers have turned into really good friends and life here has been an adventure.