PRP Now! Sydney Lohkamp // Tsao & McKown

May 20, 2021
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 working at TsAO & McKOWN Architects in Brooklyn, New York! They are a small-medium firm and work on anything from city planning to designing lipstick tubes. 

Their “inspiration resides not in the grandiose and the monumental but in larger existential questions, and in focused observations of the sensual, the tactile, the unexpected: our favorite streets in our favorite cities, a stairway we remember, a room glimpsed in passing, seen through an open door. The spatial becomes a means to the spiritual. Their work not only spans from residential clients to competitions but from America to Asia. 

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
I have loved being in New York, despite COVID restrictions. With tourism low, I have been able to visit museums, parks, and architecture with relative ease and safety. There is plenty to do and it is incredibly fun to people watch. While the ambient honking and noise at all hours a day was initially annoying, it has grown on me to know that the city is still alive and bustling. 

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
Currently at my desk, at my work from home set-up, I have my laptop, coffee, sketchbooks, plan/trace sketches, aluminum leafing samples, succulents, and a snack stash. My desk in the office is a little barer since I have only been into the office a handful of times and usually it is with a focus on materials and other tasks that can only be completed in person. I am currently working on two residential remodel projects and I have been helping on sets/CAD drawings, material samples and selection, custom furniture pricing, fitting research/packages, client presentations, and much more. Working at a smaller firm has meant a lot of multi-tasking and I often help with miscellaneous tasks for different projects throughout the week in addition to my project work. For example, I helped complete and send out TsAO & McKOWN’s Winter-Spring newsletter in March.

PRP: Describe the firm culture? 
The firm’s culture is amazing! Everyone has been so welcoming, and I felt immediately comfortable talking and sharing with everyone at the firm. For example, before my first day, they took the time to plan a meet and greet happy hour where I was able to virtually meet the entire team. Overall, the firm highly values research which results in great care and craft in even the “littlest” details in a space. Additionally, there is a high value on transparency and open communication between everyone at the firm which has been refreshing and a wonderful learning opportunity. Despite everyone working remotely from different parts of the US and now the globe, the principals, Calvin and Zack, have taken great care to respect and encourage mental/physical health.

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT? 
Due to the unique situation from COVID, this is actually my last semester, and I will be graduating upon completion of this program. I wish all my friends and peers the best and hope we stay in touch!   

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
This weekend my roommate, Chandler Householder (currently doing her PRP with Weiss/Manfredi), and I are going to see Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America before it leaves the MoMA in May. We are also both also preparing to go back to Austin next weekend to see our families and participate in Commencement.  

PRP: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
While this was not the ending to my UT experience that I was expecting, I am very happy I got to participate in the PRP program, and I encourage everyone to consider participating if they are able. It is a wonderful chance to meet new people and learn more about the inner workings of architecture that you are unable to get from a studio project.