PRP Now! Rachel Larson // KOKO Architecture

April 7, 2016
PRP Now! is a series of interviews that highlight a current UTSOA Professional Residency Program student every few weeks.
prp now

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 Rachel Larson [B.Arch. '17] about her experience.

PRP: Tell us about your PRP firm. Where are you working?
KOKO Architecture + Design

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
I moved to New York City to work for KOKO, and I am loving it.  One of my favorite parts is just the day-to-day chaos.  There are people everywhere, always moving, all the time, and for me that's quite exciting.  New York is also full of amazing public spaces, such as Central Park and Washington Square, to name a few.

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
I'm mainly working on three projects right now: A penthouse in Chelsea, an apartment in the Upper West Side, and a summer home in the Hamptons.  It's all residential, but there's quite a lot of variety in the nature and scope of the work.  One of the great things about working with KOKO is the degree of autonomy that I, as an intern, have within these projects.  For the Upper West Side project, finish selections were left almost entirely to me (with revisions in accordance with the client's preference, of course).  I've gotten to visit sites, meet with clients, and play an active role in the design process.

PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?
KOKO sometimes feels like a family (perhaps because there are only seven of us, and because we work out of an apartment?).  My co-workers are friendly and helpful.  The firm atmosphere is also very supportive of creative exploration and learning.

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT? 
I would probably tell them to consider trying a small firm, like KOKO, for their PRP internship, especially if their prior experience has been with a large firm.  In small firms, there's a lot of opportunity to get deeply involved in projects, and in my experience, you tend to be given a lot more responsibility than in larger firms.  You also get to know your principals on a personal level.  This, I feel, is especially important because these people have a wealth of real-life experience in their field.  I think the best thing you can do is just ask questions.  More often than not, I've found that my co-workers at KOKO are happy to clarify my questions and help me grow as a designer.

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
This Saturday I'm headed to the Strand (a NYC bookstore known for having thousands upon thousands of books in stock) to explore the shelves with a friend.  Last weekend, the cherry blossoms started blooming, so I also might head up to Central Park to take pictures!

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I'd just say that if you're considering PRP, I strongly suggest that you go somewhere that challenges you.  For me, that place is New York.  For you, that could be anywhere from another city in Texas to a different country.  Either way, living in a different place will deeply enrich your PRP experience, as you get the opportunity to explore a new place and culture!