Each year, Kahler Slater welcomes students to intern with our teams to help give them exposure to the design industry and better insight into the working world. This year, we are thrilled to have Abby Peterson (University of Illinois), Elliot Gorman (California College for the Arts) and Bryan Samuel (University of Illinois) join our Corporate, Residential and Higher Education teams. While 2020 has provided many unchartered logistical challenges as we work remotely from our home offices, we are focused on providing them with unique opportunities for collaboration.
Each intern brings passion and a diverse range of experience, with a willingness to learn and a curiosity that is vital to enhancing our creative culture. We asked them 5 questions, ranging from their experience attending graduate school during a Pandemic to how they get creatively inspired, and here’s what they had to say:
What was it like to complete the spring semester during COVID? What opportunities emerged?
Abby: It was very strange! Thanks to an incredibly organized and compassionate professor, our studio never skipped a beat. We were able to seamlessly transition remotely while still maintaining the studio culture. Other classes were hit or miss with professors not adjusting well, deadlines being moved last minute, and project deliverables being altered. It was discouraging and confusing at times but all that contrasted with the positivity of my studio professor. She took the opportunity to celebrate what the situation allowed like having final reviewers from all across the country who otherwise would not have been able to attend our presentations.
Elliot: The completion of my spring semester was similar to everything else at the time; quarantine and be patient. Luckily, many professors were able to adjust their curriculum accordingly to be held online and to my surprise it seemed flawless. Since we had many weeks of practice via Zoom chat prior to finals, our final pinup went very well. The best part about the final pinup was that it was recorded and posted on social media for all my family to see. Although not educational-oriented, the biggest lesson I learned was the value of spending time with family.
Bryan: The transition happened very quickly. As a result, most professors relaxed their expectations in their classes, which allowed me to focus on what I wanted to do the most: studio. I have decent working space at home, so I was able to bring everything back and sketch, design, and produce like I normally would at studio. The most challenging aspect was teaching online; I am TA for a sophomore design studio and it proved very difficult to motivate and connect with students after the virus struck. Openly celebrating good student work on zoom calls and discussing strengths and weaknesses was a good inspiration to continue working, but it wasn’t as effective.
Why Kahler Slater?
Abby: Trina Sandschafer, Kahler Slater’s Design Principal, gave the commencement address at my undergraduate graduation. I had loved her speech so when I saw her at U of I’s Career XPO in the spring, I had to introduce myself. After I learned about the opening of the Chicago office and Trina’s new role, I knew I wanted to be a part of Kahler Slater’s new office. The firm already has a rich history of great design so combining that with the opening of a new office and getting to learn from Trina, it was an opportunity I could not pass up!
Elliot: Kahler Slater has been a name I’ve heard for a while from the major successes and project wins. They were the first firm I wanted to interview at when I made the decision to move my professional life to the Milwaukee area. I really enjoyed my interview and especially meeting the members of the Higher Education team. From hearing the name, to researching the company, to the interview, to working for over a month, I can truly say that Kahler Slater is a special firm to work at.
Bryan: I was very interested in the idea of helping the new Chicago office grow from the beginning. Trina was also one of the most inspiring and engaging people I met at the University of Illinois Career Expo, and that played a big role in my decision to apply here.
What are you passionate about in regards to Architecture?
Abby: What really drives me in architecture is the intersection of public interest design and sustainability. I wholeheartedly believe that architecture can and should be more than just a beautiful building. I find it really exciting to know that I can have a positive impact on both communities and the environment.
Elliot: I am most passionate about the construction aspect of architecture since it incorporates all scales into consideration of tectonics, engineering, cost efficiency, and building longevity, and much more. I grew up in a household of family members in construction, so it is hard not to enjoy conversations regarding that topic.
Bryan: I am passionate about design that reflects and enhances its context. Specifically, I am interested in the third spaces that comprise our personal pockets in public space. I would like to see urban design incorporate more places that people can feel comfortable visiting outside of their home, office, and commercial space.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Abby: I take a lot of inspiration from nature so getting outside for a walk or a bike ride helps a lot. I’ve found inspiration outdoors from the most random things, from the way a hill slopes to the way a cluster of trees looked together!
Elliot: I utilize publications, books, speeches, and more for inspiration. I am motivated when I am learning and knowing more as each day passes.
Bryan: I have a handful of talented friends that I can always trust to give me hell when I have a bad idea. I'm also an avid scanner of ArchDaily - their google chrome extension was a lifechanging discovery.
What do you hope to learn at Kahler Slater?
Abby: Everything! I’m so excited to be here and absorb everything that I can. The Chicago office is at a really exciting stage where I get to see an office develop but still have the background of a bigger firm and all the resources and opportunities that both imply. It’s the best of both worlds! I’ve only been with Kahler Slater for two weeks and I’ve already gotten familiar with multiple projects with different programs and at different stages of development.
Elliot: I hope to learn as much as I can about construction processes, but more importantly, I hope to form lasting relationships with the people I work with and the firm overall.
Bryan: I hope to learn what it takes to launch a new architectural office. I'm interested in business development and practice management, and I believe my summer Kahler Slater will provide a unique opportunity to walk through the entrepreneurial beginnings of the Chicago Office.
We are excited to see where the summer takes Abby, Elliot and Bryan. Stay tuned for another interview later this summer where we recap what they learned at Kahler Slater and where they are headed.