PRP Now! Julian Debo // Perkins + Will

October 23, 2015
PRP Now! is a series of interviews that highlight a current UTSOA Professional Residency Program student every few weeks.

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 Julian Debo [B.Arch. '16] about his experience.

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
I am at the Chicago office of Perkins + Will, the headquarters of the international firm. The Chicago office houses architecture and interior design teams of nearly 200 people, and also marketing, branded environments, and finance teams. Needlessly to say, the office is quite large in numbers, but allows for it to take on large, wide-range project types (Healthcare, Transportation, Education, etc) and has so many talented people that bring with them skill sets that enhance the projects in many ways.

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in and what are your favorite aspects?
What a great time to be in Chicago! With the Black Hawks winning the Stanley Cup and the Cub’s making history, Chicago hosting the first U.S. Architecture Biennial, and with weekly festivals, parades and events; the city seems more alive than ever! The city is also experiencing a birth of new attractions, with the development of the river front, a trial called the 606, and new developments in old neighborhoods and subway stations. This is why I wanted to come to a city like Chicago, because of its density, the amenities, the hustle and bustle, as well as the great architecture; its pulsating life.

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
Today I am drafting section details of slab edge conditions on the Kudai Transit Station in the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Beside me lays a stack of prints of past tasks I’ve completed from the same transit project. In all my time here at P+W, I’ve been on this one project, but with a scale like this and something new coming up every day, I don’t get tired of it. I’ve completed various studies and created several iterations of interior elements as well as creating elevations, RCPs, various system sheets and other construction drawings.

PRP: Describe the firm culture and the office atmosphere.
Although it is a large firm, its set up gives off a studio feel with each person having a large work space and a local team table where meetings and design conversations occur. The firm is generally organized by market sector, but there are some that intermingle with other departments. The firm is also very good at incorporating everyone with a large part of the project as well, something that I am very relieved to have experienced. Within the first week I was on Revit working on tasks an Arch III titled employee would be working on. Of course, I continue to ask questions and everyone is so good with taking time to explain and have become great mentors, and have helped me understand much more in depth how the workings of a large design project are developed, created, and executed.

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT?
PRP could not come sooner. They say there’s nothing better than experience, right? I have gained so much more knowledge working at an architecture firm that can create sophisticated, sustainable designs while using computer generative programs like Revit. Further, the firm brings in great people with various skills in all things, with some incorporating Rhino + Grasshopper into the designs and merge them to begin producing documents.

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
I will be visiting various buildings during the Open House Chicago this weekend with fellow architecture Longhorn alum, John Bodkin and Edima Essien. It is a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of buildings that you don’t usually have a chance to. I will also be keeping warm as the weather is getting cooler with fall in full swing and winter approaching.