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Coop Profile: Selena Obelinas

Class year: Class of 2015 BS Architecture
Hometown: Scranton, Pennsylvania

Fourth-year architecture major Selena Obelinas just returned to campus after completing her first coop at KlingStubbins in Cambridge, Massachusetts. KlingStugbbins is a multi-disciplinary firm specializing in architecture, engineering, interior and landscape design, as well as planning. Along with their Cambridge office, they have offices in Raleigh, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Beijing with headquarters in Philadelphia.

The firm is in Kendall Square, an area dense with architecture and technology firms. Selena found the firm’s proximity to school and its accessibility by public transportation to be ideal. “The location is great – just across the Charles River. Located on the 10th floor, there is a beautiful view of the Boston skyline and the Charles.”

Architecture students embark on their first coop experience after 4-5 academic semesters and there is a lot of ground to cover to make sure that they are prepared for the expectations coop employers have and to make sure that the experience is engaging and rewarding for the students. For Selena, she felt that the early exposure to various software tools such as AutoCad, SketchUp, and Adobe were essential to her success while on coop. But technical skills alone were not the only things she relied on. She noted, “In studio, you go through the same process as you do for the Schematic Design phase in a firm – where you are constantly developing the design and massaging out any issues or quirks. This design gets presented in front of the class, teachers, and outside critics – similar to a real project being presented in front of city officials, potential tenants, and clients.“

Coop students often have a wide range of responsibilities while working at a firm and they are usually embedded into a larger team of designers so they get to experience a significant lifespan of a project and how it is managed. At KS, Selena got to work on a number of different projects-including landscaping, interior fit-outs, structural and electrical diagramming and architectural drawings. These opportunities expanded her knowledge of the built environment, allowing her to apply the more hypothetical scenarios in studio to real world projects.

Although coop jobs generally last for a period of 6 months, Selena stayed on through the summer which allowed her to work on what turned out to be her favorite project: the development of an 18 story glass office tower in the Seaport District of Boston, which would fill in some of the vast surface lots that currently dominate much of the district. Selena had the chance to work on something that will actually be built: “It is the first major building in the long-planned development of the Seaport area which will establish a multi-block cluster of offices, stores, residences, and public parks. What was most exciting about this assignment is that as a student living in Boston, I will soon see something I worked on in 2D and 3D be brought to life in the Boston skyline and in my very own neighborhood.”