Yolanda (front row, 4th from right) with fellow interns
Name: Yolanda De Rueda
Class Year: BS Architecture 2016
Hometown: Culiacan, Mexico
Where was your coop and what type of firm were you at?
I had the amazing opportunity to work at the Pritzker Prize winning firm Herzog & de Meuron, an international architecture firm with projects at every scale all over the world. Most of the design occurs at the Basel, Switzerland location. There are additional offices that oversee project construction in New York, Hamburg, London, Hong Kong and Madrid. I was one of 25 student interns working at the firm for one year. I learned about this opportunity from a connection I made at my previous coop. This was an opportunity for experiential learning before heading back to school to complete my academic studies.
Where was the firm located and what was it like to be working in that location?
The firm is based in Basel, Switzerland, which is where I was placed. As an international student from Mexico studying in the US and then in Germany on my semester abroad, I can say that living Switzerland was a whole new experience. It has a lot to offer in terms of architecture and culture.
Architecture in Switzerland has always been of a major influence to the world of design, with such important figures in the field like Le Corbusier, Peter Zumthor and Bernard Tschumi. When I arrived in Basel, a former intern at the firm gave me a list of buildings that I had to visit while being here. Switzerland is very small so it is easy to rent a car or take the train and make one-day excursions to places of interest. As interns, we took advantage of these opportunities. We would pick a site then go to see amazing architecture surrounded by beautiful landscape.
How did your experience in the studio prepare for your coop experience?
The firm is basically run like a studio. For each project, there is a team that prepares the design and related materials. These designs undergo a series of reviews and critiques. Then, they are presented to Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, the firm’s principals. After all the presentations and reviews, the input and comments received are considered and incorporated into the project, which is then ready to be presented to the client.
What has been your favorite project you have participated in on coop?
Since this was one-year internship, versus a six-month coop placement, I had the opportunity to be work on three different projects. Each one has been important to me and my development in the field. My first project was Stadtcasino Basel, a concert hall in the center of city. The project was the renovation and expansion of this historic building from the late 1800s.
I had never had the opportunity to work on something like this before. I was producing images and studies for the main foyer and worked on the project until we submitted designs for the development phase. One of the advantages of the location was that we could go to the site any time we needed to see and understand the building. For Christmas the whole team attended a music concert in the building, which is known for its excellent acoustics.
My second big project was working on the design phase of a pavilion at the Botanico Culiacan, which is my home town. I enjoyed working on this project because the team was small, just the project leader and me. This allowed me to be involved in every aspect of the project.
My final project was one of my favorites current projects from the office; the headquarters for the Porta Volta Fondazione Feltrinelli. This project is in the construction phase and will open to the public by the end of year. I joined the team when the client asked us to design the interiors for the Fondazione. It has been amazing to be able to see a building under construction and learn so much about this stage. I’ve been able to visit the construction site in Milan twice. The team consisted of the project manager, an architect and me. This small team allowed me to be involved in many aspects of the project.
How do you think your coop experience will influence you back in the studio?
This experience has given me all of the necessary tools to learn as much as I want to. I love my job! While at Herzog & de Meuron, the interns were encouraged learn about any projects in progress and were able to review the mockups and models that were constantly being built. There is testing of facades, materials and new technologies all the time, which we were allowed to review. I believe that after this coop experience, I will be able to bring all this new knowledge to my final year of studio class. I’m looking forward to getting back to Northeastern being away after a year and a half.