PRP Now! Prarthan Shah // Renzo Piano Building Workshop

October 23, 2019
PRP Now! is a series of interviews that highlight a current UTSOA Professional Residency Program student every few weeks.

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
I am currently working for Renzo Piano Building Workshop in Genoa, Italy. I have been extremely fortunate for this experience and to have traveled to Italy.  RPBW is an international firm founded in 1981 by the Pritzker awarded architect by the same name. Since its founding, sustainability, attention to detail, craft and lightness has been at the core of the firm's principles. 

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
I love working in this office as it is by the coast with each desk having a view out to the sea and the spaces are all naturally lit. The apartment provided for all the interns is also very close to the beach and the office. Who wouldn't like to live by the Italian coast and basking in the sun during long lunch breaks? 

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
It's been pretty busy since the day I started. I am currently working on a pediatric hospital in Greece which is a series of three public hospitals all designed by our office. The one I am on is in SD stage and the cost estimation deadline coming up soon. I am in charge of building sections and elevations so have plenty of re-lined prints, renderings, banana, espresso cup, and a Game of Thrones coaster. 

PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?
Very different than what I imagined it to be. Very friendly and laid back and everyone is very helpful, and hardworking. Its an open office terraced plan so it feels like  everyone is working in one big room. There are lots of drawings and models everywhere which makes you feel like you are in your studio but a lot cleaner. People have come from every part of the world and a lot of current employees were former interns.  

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT? 
Two hour lunch breaks by the beach with free lunch provided. But honestly, working in this office has given me a lot of confidence in my ability and understanding the problem solving aspects of design which are overlooked in school for obvious reasons. Learning how to coordinate between all the consultants is an art-form and having a clear objective helps drive discussions forward. 

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
Went to visit the Vitra foundation last weekend near Basel and planning to go to Nice and Monaco next weekend and then to Amsterdam, Brussels, and Copenhagen with few office colleagues over the weekends.

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
If you are thinking about PRP, I would say go outside your comfort zone and try to work for a firm that you admire and may want to work for in the future. If it works out, you will know what kind of work you like and if not, it is only for six months.