PRP Now! Mirelle Botros // Payette Associates

September 29, 2016
PRP Now! is a series of interviews that highlight a current UTSOA Professional Residency Program student every few weeks.
PRP Now Mirelle Botros

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 Mirelle Botros [B.Arch. '17] about her experience. 

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
I am working at Payette Associates – an architectural and planning firm located in downtown Boston, MA adjacent to the Seaport District. Aside from the incredible view from the office window every day, our location conveniently has us right above the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), so we’re always updated about any event or exhibition taking place. Payette mostly specializes in healthcare and educational facilities with departments in Interior Design, Building Science and Landscape Architecture. The office holds roughly 140 people in an open L-shaped floor plan with bays accommodating different design studios and project teams without any hierarchy in seating. I sat right next to a principle and behind the president the first two weeks I was at the firm. Occasionally, people will switch projects, literally unplugging their desktops and rolling over to the other side of the office. I’ve had to do that three times already!

PRP:  Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
I absolutely love Boston and its coziness! I love walking its streets and being soaked in its rich history, diverse cultures and the integration of old and new. I love the people and the neighborhoods; there is always something happening from street markets, live bands, park events, exhibitions and more. I love how walkable the city is and how clean and easy the train system is here. And if you have me on social media, you definitely know how awestruck I am with Boston’s views! On Saturdays, my favorite thing to do apart from trying new restaurants, of course, is sketching a nice view here and there.

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
I am currently working on the Cornell masterplan, specifically different lab module configurations for Hollister Hall – the Civil Engineering building on campus. I just finished 3D printing a site model of their campus so besides all the test 3D prints and the plexi additions, my desk is covered with a stack of plan iterations of the modules, each with another pile of trace drawings layered over, two desktop monitors, a telephone, my favorite yellow Payette coffee mug refilled at least once a day, an Acentech water bottle I received at a YDC tour of their 3D Listening Lab, bundles of piano wire and finally a bottle of Purex liquid starch which I am using on yarn to make feathers for a headpiece that I am helping design for the Fashion Show we're preparing for in October. Yes, you can obviously tell that I need to clean up my desk.

PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?
The work atmosphere is very dynamic and the design studios are very collaborative. Often, to synthesize ideas and caste a new set of eyes on a project, design pin-ups will take place either in the Wilson Practice Room for a firm-wide collective critique or within the alcoves to the sides where different teams are encouraged to act as a “think tank” and contribute to the discussion. These events are usually very productive and a way for others to learn about the different projects taking place around the firm. Payette highly focuses its practice on its people and making the sources for their success innumerable. An awesome thing about the firm is that it encourages its members to complete their license exams and reimburses employees for any AREs and LEED Exams and Registrations. Payette has an outstanding Young Designer’s Core (YDC) – a group of young designers that often get together for lunch, board games, organized construction tours, community service events, lectures at nearby architecture schools and office-wide sports events to beat the ODC (the oldies). Yes, that happened. After winning 8 consecutive years, the YDC finally seized their win this year! Besides that, we get together every Friday for “Fridays at 4” where everyone drops what they’re doing for a beer and to tune in to a colleague presenting on a topic of interest. Also, office-wide ice cream socials are inevitable whenever we are awarded a project!

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT? 
I will first tell my friends how awesome my experience was and how badly I want to move to Boston. Coming from someone who was reluctant to leave Texas, that should mean a lot! Not only do I absolutely love my work environment, but by throwing myself entirely outside of my comfort zone, I am able to thrive independently, figure things out for myself, embark on new adventures and meet new people, some of which I will be holding on to for a lifetime!

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
As I wrap up my work for a deadline this Thursday, I am looking forward to Alena Savera visiting me in Boston this weekend. We will be hanging out in the city for a couple days and then heading to New York on Saturday to meet up with the rest of our crew interning there! We plan to visit a few buildings and sites and eventually make it to the highest priority on our list of things to see/do – LaDuree, our number one destination since studying abroad in Paris.

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I miss saying “y’all” without being questioned! “Y’all” will never know until you leave the state.