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Coop Profile: Edward Kim

Class Year: Class of 2015
Hometown: Carle Place, NY

Fourth-year architecture student Eddie Kim spent this past summer as an intern at William Rawn Associates (WRA) in Boston, where he also spent his first coop in 2012. Upon returning from studying abroad in Berlin, Eddie reached out to a few former co-workers at the office regarding working over the summer, and a week later, found himself back at the office as if he had never left. “It was a different dynamic this time around,” he said. “I was also taking classes and working on a project that was brand new to the office. But the work and people there were still all familiar, and the experience just as rewarding.”

WRA is a mid-size multidisciplinary firm that has built up a solid portfolio of libraries, academic student centers and residence halls, as well as highly specialized performing arts spaces. The firm has a special connection with Northeastern, as it designed the West Village Residence Halls, including Building H and also designed the recent renovation of  Blackman Auditorium. Each year, the firm employs students from the University’s architecture program in coop positions.

The firm is located in Boston’s financial district and has a deep connection to the urban life of the city-something reinforced in the architecture curriculum here at the school. Last year, ARCHITECT Magazine ranked WRA number 2 in its annual Top 50 list for its design and sustainability achievements. For Eddie, working at such a highly regarded architecture office was an exciting opportunity.

While working there in the role of coop students and intern, Eddie had the opportunity to work on three projects: the Winsor School Centers for Performing Arts and Wellness, which recently broke ground; the Fine Arts Complex at Eastern Connecticut State University, which is scheduled to open in 2015; and the schematic design of a new 400 bed student residence hall.

Of the three, Eddie found the Winsor School Centers project to the most engaging and challenging. He spent his first three months of coop working as part of the project team for this center. This project exposed him to a scale of work that was entirely new to him and he became fascinated with the variety of building envelope types and all the related details. He felt prepared for the challenge of this real world implementation of his skills because of the training he received in his Tectonics course, which focused on building construction. His knowledge of AutoCad, software he had been using since his first year studio, also was beneficially to his duties as coop. All this training served him well and  he was able to advance his skills exponentially.

While at WRA, Eddie was surrounded by numerous talented professionals from many different backgrounds. The office has a staff of about 50 people, which made if possible for Eddie to establish relationships with coworkers, even if they were part of different project teams. The interaction between teams is constant at WRA, whether it is to ask for feedback, share details or just talk sports. The office principals, in addition to being involved in multiple projects at all levels, are invested in establishing a close working relationship with everyone, which allowed Eddie to interact with professionals at all staged of their careers.

Working in a firm clarified differences for Eddie between professional office work and academic studio work. Although he found that there was overlap, he also felt a clear distinction of the level of detail, process, and pace between the two. Eddie found being able to link academic experience to the professional world of architecture to be the most rewarding experience yet of his undergraduate studies and looks forward to the continued interaction in the future.