PRP Now! Reuben Joseph // Pelli Clarke Pelli

January 23, 2020
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? 
Founded in 1977, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects have designed some of the world’s most recognizable buildings. Their award-winning portfolio includes the World Financial Center in New York, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the International Finance Center in Hong Kong, and the Salesforce Tower and Transit Center in San Francisco. The firm’s work for public and private clients includes office buildings, hotels, residences, performing arts centers, museums, academic buildings, libraries, research centers, and master plans. I am currently working out of the New York office based in the heart of Chelsea.    

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?  
 I have fallen in love with everything about New York. Its ambience as the "center of the modern world" is palpable. The political, financial, and cultural institutions based in this city attract talented and ambitious people from around the world. It takes a certain work ethic and tenacity to survive in this city. There is something inspiring about the passion of New Yorkers and their drive to innovate and push every boundary.  I felt this city embodied the American Spirit in extremes, good and bad. It could certainly use some southern hospitality, real BBQ, and respectable breakfast tacos! 

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?  
I am currently working on a renovation for the World Financial Center. Located across the street from Ground Zero, these four towers were designed by Rafael Pelli and Associates in 1982. These towers have since become a symbol of freedom and strength. I consider it a privilege to work on a building of such notoriety and historical relevance. We are currently trying to update the layout of the original building to create a comprehensive marketing plan featuring the current retail tenants and office spaces.  

PRP: Describe the firm culture? The office atmosphere?  
There is a tangible atmosphere of creativity in the office. Pelli Clarke Pelli places a priority on the physicality of design, which has resulted in models adorning every inch of the office. Whether they are solar studies or intricate site models, they serve as a constant source of inspiration. There is an extremely well stocked materials library in the back of the office, from which designers can pull items for meetings, inspiration or sheer curiosity.  

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT?   
I’ll tell my classmates to go explore the world. Traveling and exposing yourself to situations out of your comfort zone is crucial for your development, especially as designers. Working in a city, which prides itself on continuously pushing creative limits, was inspiring. It forced me think about what I hoped to gain from or add to this field.  

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
Every weekend I get on a bicycle and try to get completely lost. I have found this to be the best way to explore a city. I’ll always have my phone to map my way home at the end of the day. I’ve found myself in soccer matches with strangers, and even sampled a tiny coffee and tea shop established in 1895, despite the fact that I hate both those drinks!  In winter, I spent much of my time indoors in museums and art galleries. Now that the weather is nice, I find myself seeking out outdoor activities.  

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add? 
This program is an incredible opportunity. While school is helpful, real world experience is the best teacher. Participating in this program gave me an understanding of what it is like to work in a firm, absorb its culture, understand and own responsibilities, and form quality relationships with some of the most prominent leaders in the field of design.