Our three architecture interns moved cross country with opportunities to experience different project typologies, building processes, and to further understand the connection behind technology and building design. We chatted with Walter, Vanessa and Kevin to learn more about their passions, hobbies, and what they’ve learned during their time at ZGF.
Walter Wong was born and raised in Hong Kong. He has an architecture degree from Dalhousie University and is currently pursuing a Master of Architecture.
Vanessa Sokic previously lived in Amsterdam and has a background in visual arts. Currently, she’s a third-year student studying architecture at the University of Waterloo.
Kevin Kunnappilly is a third-year student at the University of Waterloo. His architectural aspirations have taken him to offices in Toronto and Singapore where he worked on small and large-scale projects.
(Left to right: Walter Wong, Vanessa Sokic, Kevin Kunnappilly)
Describe something new that you learned during your ZGF internship.
Walter: As part of my technical goal here, I learned to use Revit well.
Vanessa: I learned more about sustainability on a building scale and about the process of designing a passive house, where all consultants are brought into the design process early on.
Kevin: Since I jumped between a handful of projects over my time here, the nuances of project phasing stood out to me. I learned a lot about the varying activities, types of material produced, and overlaps that occur in each phase in relationship to project-specific timelines, budget, and consultants.
What type of assignments did you enjoy working on?
Walter: I love the rare moments in a project that spark disagreements and debates. As uncomfortable as they first seem, I think they lead to innovation and progress. The discussions help create a sense of ownership and meaning among the design team.
Vanessa: I love model making. I hopped right on the task when the project I was assigned required a model. It was great to get a lot more 3D-printing experience.
Kevin: Any day that ended with glue-covered hands and a fine shroud of blue foam dust over my entire body was a good day in my books.
How did working in the Vancouver office inspire your work or studies over the last few months?
Walter: I came to realize the breadth and depth of our work by being involved in different project stages. Every line we draw impacts people’s lives. I feel an ever-deeper responsibility for what we do because if we don’t care no one else will.
Vanessa: British Columbia has forward-thinking sustainability policies. It is inspiring to see a collective push towards better cities and makes me optimistic for the future.
Kevin: Vancouver is unique from other cities I’ve lived in its proximity to mountains, forests, and water. I felt elated being in the city. experiencing the connections to nature are intentionally implemented in its architecture and planning.
Did you visit any museums, historic landmarks, or parks?
Vanessa: Yes, it is such a long list! I especially enjoyed all the outdoor activities like hiking and being closer to nature in general.
Kevin: I did almost everything worth noting within the city. Some interesting moments include visiting Bloedel Conservatory atop Queen Elizabeth Park and the old-growth forest of Pacific Spirit National Park. I particularly enjoyed ziplining in the fog at Grouse Mountain and drives along the Sea to Sky Highway.
What was your favorite day as an intern this summer?
Walter: I enjoyed the office presentations and events. We would gather and learn about an ongoing project. it was relaxing for a moment to review our work.
Vanessa: I can’t settle on a specific day, but it was wonderful to get the opportunity to attend important client and consultant meetings. I learned a lot at those meetings and was able to really feel like a part of the team by being present.
Kevin: Modeling for a project photoshoot.
Do you have any interests or hobbies you were also able to explore?
Vanessa: I have been into low, zero-waste initiatives lately. It has been amazing to be able to bring that into the workplace and team up with some coworkers to implement more sustainable office practices.
Kevin: Is eating considered a hobby? Scheduled office snacks, lunch and learns, leftovers from meetings, a residency in Gastown, and in general good digs scattered across the city, I sure did indulge it as an interest.
How do you see this experience influencing your work when you return to school?
Walter: My experience at ZGF gets me thinking about leveraging a variety of knowledge and augmenting our creativity with technology. As I enter my thesis year, I want to write software that generates and optimizes design options. I also want to lead debates so the discussions are more productive and innovative.
Vanessa: It will be difficult to ignore Passive House standards now. I would feel silly reverting back when these requirements should be informing future building typologies. I guess my future projects will have to be Passive Houses!
Kevin: My experience in Vancouver will be an influence in my future academic and professional work whenever developing site relationships to existing or built landscapes.