This summer, two interns joined ZGF’s New York City team to support our growing office and gain some exposure to life in a design firm. Prim Rattanathumawat and Maria Otero quickly found themselves integrated into several teams—working on a wide range of project types in all phases of design. Prim has spent the last four years at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she is starting her final year this fall in pursuit of a Bachelor of Architecture. Maria joined us from the Savannah College of Art and Design where she will also be entering her final year to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design. Before they returned to school, we sat down with Maria and Prim to chat about their experience at ZGF these past few months.
Describe something new that you learned during your ZGF internship.
Maria Otero: I had never done a call-out in Revit and now I feel like I’ve mastered it. I learned so much from working on test-fits and experiencing that review process. I realized that different options are important and even small changes really impact the design. I also learned a lot about different products from the lunch and learns with vendors.
Prim Rattanathumawat: I worked mostly on early stage design efforts—concept and schematic design—on a few different projects. There were lots of client presentations during these stages. I learned a lot of tips on how to organize layouts and present ideas.
What type of assignments did you enjoy working on?
Maria: My favorite part was creating the renderings, but I worked on all the phases of a project. It was very valuable to work on different projects at each stage. I appreciated the opportunity to share my thoughts with the team throughout the process.
Prim: I enjoyed working on projects in schematic design. It’s awesome that ZGF lets the interns contribute and work on the design of actual projects. The office made me feel confident that my design input was part of the process. I also loved creating renderings to see the design come together.
How did working in the New York office inspire your work or studies over the last few months?
Maria: New York City was a huge change. All the design I experienced was very inspiring. The spaces in the city taught me about efficiency and smart design for small spaces.
Prim: I love how much New York has its own energy and vibrancy.
Did you visit any museums, historic landmarks, or parks?
Prim: I did an awesome open-door helicopter tour of the city—it was incredible! I also visited the Oculus, the High Line, and Central Park, to name a few.
Maria: I spent my time in Central Park, The High Line, and visited the Met. I explored a lot of the architecture in the city.
What was your favorite day as an intern this summer?
Prim: My first day! I loved how easy the New York office made it to meet everyone that day and how nice everyone was. The intimacy of the office made it feel so welcoming.
Maria: I loved the days with group lunches or events where everyone is hanging out and chatting. Oh, and playing in the CoreNet Global golf tournament with the team.
Do you have any interests or hobbies you were also able to explore?
Prim: I really enjoy visiting new restaurants and cafés. New York has some of the best food in the world, so I took advantage of that!
Maria: This summer in New York allowed me the opportunity to be more independent and have some “me time.” It’s the best place to explore on your own because there is always something going on.
How do you see this experience influencing your work when you return to school?
Maria: I learned a lot about materials and the building process. That will probably change how I approach my final projects.
Prim: I am heading into my fifth year and doing a thesis-adjacent project in a studio for high-rise architecture. I can properly apply this professional experience and knowledge to my upcoming projects.