PRP Now! Marriene Ondo // Perkins + Will

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

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 Marriene Ondo [B.Arch. '18] about her experience.

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
I am working at Perkins + Will's Chicago headquarters. An office over 200 employees strong, the firm's expertise extends beyond architecture and into the fields of interior design, urban planning, and brand strategy.

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
No coast, best coast! Chicago is just as breathtaking on a foggy day as it is on a sunny one, in the morning as it is at night. And at the risk of sounding completely insane, I daresay one of my favorite aspects is my commute to and from work. Occupying the top five floors of the Wrigley Building, the firm is right in the heart of the city and just off of the Chicago River - which means I get to enjoy a water taxi ride twice a day!

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
On my desk is a floor plan and trace sketch mortuary for the high school addition-renovation that I am currently working on. The last month or so has been a back and forth between our two-woman design team, our principals, our consultants, and the client. Being in the very early stages of schematic design, drastic changes are made to the campus daily! PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere? That the employees of large firms are but mindless robots that keep the boat afloat is a huge misconception. Between our office jam sessions, beer times for a cause, and internal design competitions, the firm is light and warm on most days and tense and rigid when called for. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the office layout is that among the sea of our (designers, interns) desks are also the desks of our principals, practice leaders, and even our managing director. Here, friendships transcend titles.

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT?
Can we get breakfast tacos? I'm deprived.

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
The other week we had a scare that the summer is officially over because of a cold front brought by Hurricane Irma, but this week we are back in the high 80's! So I'm headed up to Wisconsin to be out in the sun and away from the city. The Chicago Architecture Biennial can wait another week.

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Take the leap and move elsewhere for PRP. Or don’t. There is so much to be learned from a city familiar or unfamiliar, as a designer and as a being. Allow yourself the privilege.