PRP Now! Nicki Vance // Rogers Partners

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 Nicki Vance [B.Arch. '16] about her experience. 

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
I am working at Rogers Partners in New York City.  It’s a mid-sized firm of about 40 people working on projects across the United States ranging from urban parks to elementary schools to high-rise apartments.  They are always looking for new opportunities to provoke thought in New York residents and create change in a larger sense than a single project.  The project teams masterfully blend each client’s needs with the firm’s own beliefs about design in a way that I never thought was possible.   

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
I absolutely love working in New York City! Like anywhere, there is a learning curve to the subway and the people, but after only 2 months I found some places to frequent and got to make some friends in the office and outside of work.  The City can be lonely sometimes but there are little reminders of home hidden around each corner.  New York definitely has its challenges, but the payoff is like no place else in the world.  

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
Free-leaf tea, a coffee mug, a scale, a sketchbook, and a couple scribbles on trace one of the partners left for me to decipher… 

PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?
Nicki: The firm is very work oriented, but understands the need to be more than just co-workers.  Most days people eat at their desk, but occasionally the under 30 crowd gets together to eat in a nearby park.  The office is split into 2 floors with all levels of employees sitting with their project team for easy communication.  Project teams meet every couple of days to give you plenty of time to make good progress before coming together again to talk about the next steps.  Engineering and efficiency consultants are brought in during preliminary design and are in close communication throughout the entire process.  Every idea from the intern’s to the landscape architect’s to the client’s is taken under consideration.  The office is also very active in the competition realm.  My first month and a half was spent on a national memorial competition where I was working directly with a project manager and Rob Rogers.  After working 9:30 – 7 all week, the Friday themed happy hour starts promptly at 5:30pm in the upstairs gallery.  

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT? 
“Isn’t there a train we can take?” – going anywhere 

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
Every weekend starts with a trip to the coffeehouse around the corner from my Brooklyn apartment along with an hour of sketching or reading.  Visitors last weekend means I’ll be catching up on some chores and making a run to my local bodega.  Then maybe a trip to the High Line for one of the last warm weekends.  It is also the final weekend for the NYC Architecture and Design month Archtober event series hosted at various parks and museums.  Then back to work for a Reade Street Talk on Monday (bi-monthly conversations led by a guest speaker). 

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
PRP is a two part experience.  Half is all about the office and working and figuring out time management with a team.  But the other half is about finding out how you do on your own.  It’s about going outside your comfort zone and pushing yourself to be proactive in defining what kind of person you want to be, what kind of architect you want to be.  The city you choose can make a big difference in the experience.  I chose New York because I thought I would never actually live here.  Now, 5 months in, I find myself hoping to come back after graduation.