Paul von Autenried ’16, Lord Aeck Sargent

Day 1: Tuesday, January 28

My first day at Lord Aeck Sargent was spent in the office learning about the design process. The office was set up in such a way that it really encouraged collaboration between the architects and assistants, and I really felt fully integrated in meetings. The firm, which focuses mostly on colleges and universities, is designing a new residential building at Winston paul vonSalem State University (WSSU). In preparation for a meeting with many of the “players” in the project the next day, my alumni host Lauren Dunn Rockart ‘90 showed me the interplay between hand-drawn spatial diagrams and actual three-dimensional renderings on the computer. It opened my eyes to the extensive work that happens for an architect before pen really goes to paper (or the very versatile parchment they use!). The job of an architect is to fully understand the lifestyle of a client and be able to place rooms, utilities, and lighting in an order that best suits their needs. The floor plan is just a more concrete representation of these relationships between the spaces, and the real “genius” that I saw was the diagrams that looked like flow charts. They detailed which spaces needed to be adjacent, the flow of people from one space to the next, and the functions that are necessary in each. The actual dimensions are secondary, and only when all aspects of the “lifestyle” are thought through can the numbers come in.

Solving these “relationship” problems and finding functionality are not the only tasks. As my alumnus pointed out, the learning curve in higher education architecture is always steep because of the changing needs at every campus. There isn’t a cookie-cutter approach to making campus buildings just as there isn’t a cookie-cutter type of student. It’s imperative that architects understand the campus intimately. For example, one of the senior architects had walked the campus and learned that certain paths were heavily travelled and some not. He also pointed out that because very few students ever hang out on a particular terrace at a nearby building, the façade of the designed dormitory needed to be modified. to the plan was to take a trip to WSSU tomorrow to meet with all the different players in the process, and I’m excited to see what they think of the drawings.

Day 2: Wednesday, January 29

Today, we went on our trip to WSSU despite worries about the snow and ice (unbelievably since we were in the South)! In listening on the design meetings yesterday where pieces of paper were being drawn up and thrown out rapidly, I also found interesting the role that architects play on the project team. They are the leaders of the group, as it is their job to coordinate the many interests of the clients themselves, engineers, other contractors, and in LAS’s case, the University Architect, the Provost’s office, and students. Today, I got to see the architects present their designs to the University. The presentation process is very taxing—there is painstaking attention to detail so that every photo, rendering, and diagram is presented in the clearest way, and the agenda is mapped out carefully to account for all the logistical coordination between engineers and other contractors such as electricians, maintenance specialists, and the custodial staff. I was able to sit right next to the architects as they shared the designs and fielded questions. It was particularly interesting for me as a college student as they talked about all the amenities and features that college students look for in a dormitory—it was as if the architects needed to live a year in the life of a WSSU freshman to fully grasp what’s needed.

Following the meeting, we took a walking tour through one of their newest dormitories. This was an opportunity for LAS to learn about what worked and didn’t work with the design and gave them ideas for how to improve. I hadn’t realized the extent to which architecture firms are constantly presenting their ideas and operating in a very personal fashion. They have direct communication with clients and a large portion of their daily work involves making presentations and having discussions. This is different from the design-heavy view I had of the profession—it seems to encompass so much more than just what you’re taught at architecture school (and that was echoed by one of the architects!).

I am so glad to have had this opportunity because not only was I able to learn about architecture as a profession (a career I have never had any experience with) but also I received advice from Lauren and her colleagues. Lauren was also helpful with my decision on which courses to take to further help me decide whether I’m interested in architecture, whether just to dabble or to actually pursue a career since she went through the same curriculum herself. The other architects were extremely kind in offering advice about life after graduation, their paths to becoming an architect, and their honest opinion about their job and why they wake up excited to come to work at LAS each day.

With this experience, I was given much more than a “snapshot” of a career in architecture—I actually got to see a large portion of a major project essentially from the relationship-diagrams in Lauren’s mind to the presentation before the University. It was really a complete experience in that I had meals with the architects, I was able to go on the trip with them to meet their client, and I got to explore the office and meet the many members of their staff with their different responsibilities. This Princeternship opened my eyes to a new career, has given me ideas about what I want to do after graduation, and allowed me to meet a wonderful alumnus who was so generous to me.

Jeongyoon Song ’14, Butler Rogers Baskett Architects


The Princeternship began at Penn Station, where Bobby Vuyosevich ’76 picked me up. We drove for about an hour and a half to Molloy College where the firm (Butler Rogers Baskett) designed many of its buildings including a residential building and a campus center. On the way there we talked about the architecture department at Princeton and compared our experiences. It was interesting to hear what it was like 30 or so years ago. For one, while he made all his drawings by hand we made ours with computer programs. In terms of the faculty, two of the most prominent figures in post-modernism taught studio courses at Princeton.

When we finally arrived at the college, alumBobby gave me a tour of several buildings. We walked around in the campus center, which housed study spaces, offices, and a theater. He explained that before the campus center was built students had little incentive to stay after classes. After its completion the center became a new social and study space for the students and encouraged them to stay longer on campus. We also went to a construction site where a new residential building was in progress. Inside, walls were bare and steel framework was being put together.  Bobby explained that the building used to be home to Catholic nuns but as their number decreased the school decided to provide the remaining sisters a smaller new housing elsewhere while the building was transformed into a dormitory. I had never been to a construction site before, and seeing how the building came together—the metal framework, wiring, and plumbing system—made me aware of how the role of the architect is just part of the larger construction process.

After the site visit we made our way back into the city and had lunch. While we ate, we talked about the social life at Princeton and about eating clubs. Then we walked back to the office, where Bobby introduced me to some of the workers at the firm. One of them was Jeff, who showed me the types of drawings that he was working on. As he flipped through the drawings I asked him questions about what it was like transitioning from school to work and the process of applying to graduate school. As a person who had recently graduated, Jeff gave insightful thoughts on both questions. He also said that for architecture, a lot of the learning happens while working for a firm. It was assuring to hear these words from someone in the field, as I had been anxious about post-grad plans and whether I had all the necessary skills to be hired.


Tuesday was more low-key and consisted of museum visits, first to Center of Architecture then to MoMA. At the Center of Architecture MoMAwe looked at the exhibition of selected works from different architecture graduate schools in the tri-state area, including Princeton. Although the exhibition was small, it was a chance to see how each school had their own character and approach to design. At the MoMA I walked around different exhibitions (unfortunately the architecture section was closed down to prepare for a new exhibition featuring Frank Lloyd Wright). I ended up spending a lot of time on a special exhibition on Isa Genzken—an artist who works with mixed media and produces works that often make social commentary.

When I got back to the firm,   officeBobby invited me to sit in on a business meeting with a recycled lumber company. The company talked about how disasters and demolition leaves a lot of wood behind and how they take the abandoned wood and recycle it to produce lumber products that are as good as new. After the meeting, Bobby explained that companies selling construction related products often dropped by to market their products, sending in samples and pamphlets.

Overall the Princeternship was a useful and insightful experience that allowed me to see how a professional architecture firms works. Not only that, it introduced me to individuals in the field who I could contact to review my resume and portfolio.