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Berlin Student Profile: Ryan Gagnebin

Name: Ryan Gagnebin
Year: Class of 2015
Hometown: Bethel, CT

Why did you choose to attend Northeastern’s School of Architecture?

Architecture wasn’t my fist choice.  As a transfer student from Western Connecticut State University, I wanted to pursue a degree in graphic design, but during the process of applying and waiting for responses, my mother had somehow convinced me that architecture was the better fit for me . Needless to say, the prospects of co-op and studying abroad in Europe were enticing aspects of the Northeastern program, but my courtship with the Northeastern University School of Architecture turned out not to be love at first site–it was more of an arranged marriage. It turned out to be the right choice.

What was the best part about being in Berlin?

For me, the best part about Berlin was the change of pace. After two years in studio in Boston, studying in Berlin was like being dunked in ice water, and I found it to be a very welcome shock to the system. The change of scenery came at a good time in the course of our studies. We had the right level of preparation needed to appreciate the opportunity of being in a new city and to understand its importance in our studies. Due to all of the traveling and exploring, we had less time to dedicate to our studio work than we did in Boston yet we were able to experience in person some of the iconic buildings we had studied. The constant simulation and the newness of everything was exciting despite the stress of needing to complete projects in shorter time periods. It was reassuring thing to still be productive while adjusting to a new environment-a skill that will be be very useful to me in my career as an architect.

What was your favorite project?

We worked on one major studio project all semester- so my favorite exercise came early on when my classmates and I were asked to develop a super-form. A what? Many of us asked the same question, but the general idea was to introduce some sort of specific intervention to our particular building sites that would impose a new idea about the space. Whether it had to do with frequencies, scale, population, sound, light, textures, scents: it didn’t matter as long as we found a way to represent something pronounced that spoke about something normally indistinguishable.

For some students–myself included–this exercise became the genesis of the entire project and would influence it for the rest of the semester. It was a good reminder that inspiration can come from anywhere and nowhere, and often the simplest, most atypical ideas–the ones we’re sometimes most afraid to share or pursue–can have the most value and promise.

How do you think your experience abroad will influence you when you are back in studio?

It is hard to say and I am  keeping my expectations open. But I think I return a more open-minded and intuitive student and have overcome some of my earlier nervousness in approaching studio projects.