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Co-op Profile: Jose Latorre

Jose Latorre (B.S. 2013) at Villa Savoye

Jose Latorre’s experience as a student at Northeastern University School of Architecture is not just about his studio work and classes, but also the importance that co-op program has had to his personal growth and professional development.

Co-op has allowed Jose to explore the practice of architecture internationally. During his first co-op experience, in Fall 2010, he decided to go back home to Caracas, Venezuela. He was part of the Architecture, Engineering & Construction Department of Venezuela’s largest supermarket network, Central Madeirense. Having seen his portfolio of studio work and knowing the reputation of Northeastern, his supervisors gave him a great amount of responsibility and had high expectations of Jose. Ultimately, he was able to design, plan, and complete two small installations at the company’s headquarter.

When time came to look for the second co-op, Jose aimed at finding a place in which he could engage with not just architects but also with the wide range of professionals involved in the building process. Thanks to the co-op connections of the School of Architecture, Jose was able to apply for co-op jobs all over the world. His experience in Berlin through the Study Abroad Program made him realize the high regard for design and architecture that is prevalent in Europe and his goal was to go back there to work.

One of the employers, Oger International, a company specializing in value engineering, caught Jose’s interest instantly. Their projects did not seem limited to the office’s location; Oger’s 6 branches (Paris, Nice, Casablanca, Tunisia, Beirut, Abu Dahbi and Beijing), allows them to offer services all over the world. Value Engineering seemed to guarantee exchange with professionals from other fields.

During Fall 2012 Jose completed his second co-op working in Oger International – Paris. The experience exceeded his expectations; he worked in a company with more than 500 employees from every field in the building planning and construction industry. The projects varied drastically in location, program, and scale, from a 1,800m2 office building in French Guyana, to a 6,000,000m2 urban planning development in Riyadh. Oger’s reputation as a quality value engineering consultant allowed Jose to be part of teams working in projects from internationally renowned firms: Foster and Partners, KPF, Snohetta, and others.

By no means was this co-op experience limited to value engineering practice. Design for competitions were a large part of Jose’s workload. The skillset he had developed through the design studios in Northeastern prepared him for the task at hand. The work was challenging and intense. For Jose, it felt like he was doing an entire studio project in under a week or two. Collaboration amongst various fields was crucial and the availability of engineers in the office made consulting with experienced professionals as easy as making a phone call or going up the stairs to someone’s office.

The co-op program is a great opportunity to test the skills developed in school. Also, it revealed aspects of practice that Jose had not found evident in school. For instance, the experience in value engineering and collaboration with other fields interested him in furthering his education in Architectural Engineering. Co-op also allowed Jose to practice architecture in different countries, and to understand the global nature of this field.