It’s the height of summer, which means back-to-school time is just around the corner. In Seattle, we hosted 12 architecture, interior design, and marketing interns who had the opportunity to work on (or continue working on) a variety of projects. We chatted with five of them to get the download on their internship experience and what they’ll be taking back to school:
Chris Brown is a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati going into his thesis year. He previously interned with ZGF last fall and got to work on the same corporate campus project over the course of both internships.
Chris Cheng is an architecture student going into his fifth and final year of his undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech. He’s from Alexandria, VA, born and raised.
Seattle native Miles Macklin interned with our marketing team in between semesters at the University of Michigan, where he’s studying industrial design. He also interned with us last summer.
Maggie McKenna is from Austin, TX, and heading into her sixth year at the University of Texas, studying both architecture and architectural engineering.
Hailing from Germany, our interior design intern Mara Perschl is completing her International Master of Interior-Architectural Design at HFT Stuttgart.
(Pictured above, from left to right: Chris Brown, Chris Cheng, Miles Macklin, Maggie McKenna, Mara Perschl)
Describe something new that you learned during your ZGF internship.
Mara: I learned how to work in Revit, which we don’t use much in Europe. We use different programs like ARCHICAD or Vectorworks. It was also a good experience to work on a large team and see how architects and interior designers work together.
Chris B: Last fall, I worked on the shell and core of a large corporate campus project. This summer I worked on the ground floor interior of the same project. It was great learning about the different phases of a project. There is a lot happening in conjunction with different teams, yet they all work together.
Miles: Since I interned with ZGF last summer, this was a continuation in learning more about video production and practicing my photography skills.
What type of assignments did you enjoy working on?
Chris C: The projects I worked on were in the construction documentation or construction administration phases, so I spent a lot of time detailing.
Maggie: I worked on a large government office project that was also in construction administration. It was fun working with the interiors team, which is super busy now that the shell and core is under construction. There’s still so much going on!
Miles: My big assignment was to produce a video of our model shop team here in Seattle. It gave me an inside-look at all the tools and technologies available to our teams to bring their architectural models to life.
How did working in the Seattle office inspire your work or studies over the last few months?
Maggie: It was encouraging to be in a large design firm environment and experience the laser focus on high quality design.
Chris B: It’s visible how much Seattle cares about sustainability. You see it everywhere. Everyone is talking about LEED design and sustainable materials like mass timber. I noticed it in our office and in everyday life.
Did you visit any museums, historic landmarks, or parks?
Mara: Olympic National Park was amazing. I did a road trip from south to north. From the rainforest, to the beach, to the mountains—all in one day.
Maggie: I also went to Olympic National Park. You feel like you’re in a different world.
Chris C: I went to Mount Rainier National Park and hiked to Tolmie Peak. We saw a brown bear.
Do you have any interests or hobbies you were also able to explore in Seattle?
Mara: Paragliding on Tiger Mountain. You can see Mount Rainier, Lake Sammamish, Mount Baker, and the Seattle skyline.
Maggie: Lots of running. I ran around Green Lake a few times a week and the Discovery Park loop trail down to the lighthouse at the beach.
Chris C: Running through the neighborhoods was a great way to explore and get to know Seattle. I also got to know my colleagues through ZGF Volleyball.
How do you see this experience influencing your work when you return to school?
Chris B: I’ll be a lot more attentive to detail, making sure each design element is actually feasible and serves its purpose, not designed just for the sake of designing it.
Chris C: I’m looking forward to doing more conceptual work but will incorporate the learnings from my internship later in those projects. I’m also more interested in sustainability.
Mara: Sustainability is already the norm in Europe, but I enjoyed working in the materials library and will experiment with new materials in my upcoming projects.
Maggie: I’ll let myself dive back into schematic design and learn as much as possible before the year is over. Real-world architecture will be waiting for me.
Miles: Process. At this stage in my education, it’s about solving problems from different angles. I’m learning to slow down and do things the right way—don’t rush to the conclusion.