PRP Now! Tate Paulson // Ennead Architects

May 21, 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’m working at Ennead Architects. It’s a quite large firm with 200+ employees and many people I work directly with every day aren’t actually architects due to the sheer amount of work that goes into getting and completing projects for large-scale institutional, cultural and commercial work. The office is in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center so every day I pass by Calatrava’s Oculus, the WTC Memorial, and the Fulton Center. It’s gotten to the point where I’ll try to get to my train in a new way because entering the Oculus is only so impressive when it’s the 50th time and you hear the dreary shopping mall music playing throughout the building.

PRP: Do you enjoy the city you’re working in? Favorite aspects?
I’m in New York. It’s great. Every single time you go outside there’s something new to find. There are 10 bodegas within a hundred feet of you no matter where you go, and every restaurant is selling 5-Star food. Even the most unassuming and humble Halal cart is as good as the Don behind the Co-Op. I stumble into iconic architecture by accident multiple times a week. I got off on the wrong subway stop on the way home from work one day without knowing and when I came up to the ground, I was in the vaults of the Chambers Street subway stop that we learned about in Professor Ibarra’s construction class. I immediately thought of him lecturing about it and stopping momentarily to sip from his tea gourd.

I’m living on Orchard Street, which is Bar Central in Manhattan, so every weekend our neighborhood is absolutely packed full of drunk 30-year-olds. One issue is that you may feel inadequate at times because the clothing and fashion standard for even regular street clothes is very high. I caved in and have spent lots of money on new stuff to fit in a little better, both on the street and in the office.

PRP: What is currently on your desk? What are you working on?
I’m helping out with a deadline push for a competition project in China - I was needed to help flesh out some vignettes. They’ll go alongside a batch of professional renders that Ennead requests from render firms. I’ve helped with rendering and pictures for client meetings a couple times now. I’d like to think it’s because I told my coworkers “I want to produce pretty pictures” when possible. Most of my work has been split between helping with the commercial branch and the marketing branch, mostly because of everyone in those branches being in the office and me getting a desk right in the middle of them. I struggled with remote work because I felt it was difficult to contact people but showing up in person has really helped me out a lot in getting work to do and getting help when I’m struggling.

PRP: Describe the firm culture.
Everyone here is very nice. I’m in the office with everyone else who is vaccinated and comfortable coming in - it’s not a ton of us as of yet but so far everyone I’ve met has been super nice and willing to help me out. Everyone can use an intern and I’ve been put onto a lot of spontaneous tasks as a result. My boss took us out for drinks the other Friday and I got to explain to him and his decades of extensive experience what Boolean meant, and how to use it as a verb in a sentence. A lot of the older people at the firm actually have no experience with 3D modeling software but are more than willing to sit down at your desk and explain what they want to happen while you can build it up in front of them like you’re a magician pulling a rabbit out of your hat.

PRP: What is the first thing you'll tell your classmates upon your return to UT?
Hate to break it to you guys who aren’t aware, but New York is like if Austin was an entirely different city except also everything is better and closer. One of the big lies about New York during COVID was that the city was dead - New York dead is more alive than anywhere else in the United States. I have had (and taken) multiple valid opportunities to say “I’m walkin’ here!” to aggressive drivers and passersby.

PRP: As you’re finishing up the week, what are your plans for this weekend?
Ania and I are going to Brooklyn this weekend. I’m not sure what we’ll find there but there’s always something. There are enough places in New York that you can reasonably go somewhere completely new every weekend and not even be close to exhausting everything in only a 6 month period. Some notable experiences have been the Highline and the Irish Famine Memorial, which are both incredible pieces of design in the city.