By: Noelle Van Lerberghe
After freshman year of architecture school, I’ve just barely scratched the surface of the profession. During my first year, I learned about design principles and concepts and history and theories, but not quite anything about how to be an architect. Lucky for me, my dad is an architect here at KEPHART. This past summer, I have had a flourishing experience as a KEPHART intern.
From the first of June to the day before I leave for college in Tucson, I’ve spent three days a week working. Charlie, my fellow intern, and I were graciously welcomed into every meeting in the office during our first week. We were introduced to each team and we were able to observe their roles and dynamics. I immediately knew I wanted to work with the design team due to their work in the conceptual design process. Charlie and I quickly learned each other’s strengths. He is more “tech” oriented (and better at Revit) while I prefer the more artistic, hand-drawing side of architecture. As the summer progressed, we helped with tasks like creating signage for the twelve conference rooms within the office, creating floor plans for marketing for a plethora of projects, and more. The cool part is that, though just an intern, I get to see that my work is valued and that I am truly helping.
Outside of helping with tasks, we got to tag along on lots of site visits. Some of the sites had just freshly broken ground while others were just adding finishing touches. With the one of the teams, we visited a project that was for a client of KEPHART but designed by a different architect. It was very beneficial because weheard why the architect created the specific design and we could see what the client asked for. It was neat to hear what the KEPHART team had to say about the project and how they will consider and execute the client’s desires.
Another cool site visit was with the design team to a historic neighborhood featuring original Cliff May homes. Seeing the infrastructure of these homes built in the 50s and 60s was brilliant. There were copies of books written by May that explained his ingenious designs during the Modernism movement that are still completely relevant today.
Working under the incredibly knowledgeable people of KEPHART has provided me with much more than school ever can. Learning from these minds whom have all come from different places is something special. Not many people get to experience that. I am looking forward to taking what I’ve learned and continuing my education with some experience under my belt. Though my dad has been working here for my entire life, my time as an intern showed me how an architecture firm truly functions. There’s a lot more to it than just drafting a pretty building.
KEPHART’s culture is unlike any other I’ve ever seen…not that I have much to compare it to. It is a noticeably pleasant atmosphere where everyone seems happy and work just flows. There’s always something fun going on or something to look forward to whether it is a June Birthdays’ Celebration or a simple office meeting (which I think are fun). The art of balancing work and play is truly mastered in this environment. A big part of the culture is the Enneagram, a tool that gives every individual in the office the power to deeply understand what kind of person they are. This allows people to analyze how they work best and therefore how to work efficiently with others. With strong trust and an understanding for each other comes great chemistry and productivity. This was one of the most important things that I learned. I had always been familiar with the Enneagram styles but never as deeply as I know now. The information I have learned about myself will take me far because I know what drives me. As a One, the Perfectionist, I will be able to lead a group of my classmates successfully. I am so thankful for what the last three months has brought me; I can’t wait to keep learning and expand my horizon even further.