Handel Architects is an award-winning architecture firm with locations in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. The global firm has worked on incredible projects all over the country, including the Millennium Tower in Boston, the September 11th Memorial in New York City, and the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown in Washington D.C. Handel has also been partnering regularly with Northeastern for years, hiring our School of Architecture students for co-op positions and providing an incredible learning environment for these future architects.
CAMD Architecture student Nicolas Nefiodow was one of these students who recently completed his first co-op with Handel. He joined their New York office in the Spring of 2018, where he had one of the “greatest experiences” of his life. He loved the networking opportunities that surrounded him, as well as the events that were always occurring in the city.
“I believe New York City is the hub for architecture in the United States and among the top in the world,” Nicolas explained. “Most worldwide firms are headquartered or have offices here, and there are a lot of decisions being made.”
Nicolas was not the only Northeastern student to work at Handel. Following his co-op cycle, Jackie Diaz, another CAMD Architecture student, joined the Handel family to complete her internship in the fall of 2018. Like Nicolas, Jackie found living and working in New York City to be a valuable learning experience.
“Living and working in NYC totally changed my life,” she described. “New York City is such an exciting city to explore, and even more so if you are interested in the architecture field. It is a city rich in innovation and is in constant change. I found myself mesmerized by the way this city is structured and dedicated every weekend to visiting new neighborhoods in the different boroughs, attractions, monuments, museums and indulging myself in the vast variety of international cuisines.”
Both Nicolas’s and Jackie’s day-to-day responsibilities were never the same at Handel; they were constantly working on different projects that required diverse skillsets. As a co-op student in any office, this type of diversity of projects is important for both personal and professional growth. For Nicolas, a few highlights included going on site visits and having the chance to see buildings at various stages of construction – giving him a first-hand view of what working as an architect in New York City is really like.
“I was given the opportunity to work on plans, renderings, diagrams, model building, construction drawings, and many other tasks at all levels of architectural design,” Nicolas stated, excited that he was able to learn something new every day.
Jackie spoke of having similar experiences, explaining that strict client and consultant deadlines created a tight schedule that kept her hands full on a daily basis. However, she never felt that she was without help.
“The Handel family was always very welcoming and open, allowing one to ask and seek help whenever in doubt,” she said. “If there was ever a task I was not 100% sure of, I could ask any member of my team without hesitation.”
Handel Architects is known for their expertise in a handful of architecture projects, ranging from interior design and offices to residential buildings and mixed-use spaces. Of these projects, Jackie found herself concentrating on one multi-use tower.
“Throughout the majority of the term, I was assigned to assist in the design development of the new Winthrop Square Tower, which is estimated to be rising in Boston’s skyline in the upcoming four years,” she explained. “During this design phase, I was asked to render multiple iterations of distinct components of the building. Upon revision, there were times in which these iterations consisted of minor changes, such as adding or removing even 1-2 inches of material here, or adding a different texture there.”
This building is intended to hold commercial, public, and residential spaces. Jackie admitted that she often applied concepts she had learned in the classroom to her work on the Winthrop Square Tower, especially those related to structural systems. She also had the opportunity to expand upon her architecture background and play with aspects of interior design; something that has since peaked her curiosity and about which she hopes to learn more.
The majority of projects that Nicolas worked on were similarly residential and mixed-use towers, though he was very intrigued by the prospect of designing something bigger.
“I was very interested in large-scale towers because of the amount of things that have to be considered before making any decisions,” he explained. “The level of detailing and coordination that needs to be done is outstanding and every single detail matters.”
Given this interest, it may come as no surprise that Nicolas’s favorite project at Handel was a 46-story residential tower in Long Island City. Assigned to him when it was in the early stages of development, he had the exciting opportunity to make crucial design decisions that would later impact final construction. It was a challenging project for him, but as often happens, it was the one from which he learned the most.
Nicolas is now beginning his second co-op and is returning to New York City to work for a smaller architecture firm called WORKac. WORKac differs from Handel in size and specialization. In his new position, he will be focusing more on “institutional projects”, such as libraries and museums. He studies Business Administration in addition to Architecture and is planning on graduating in 2020.
Jackie is back in Boston for the winter and is completing her last semester of classes. She will be graduating in May of 2019.
We are looking forward to seeing Nicolas and Jackie excel in their current and future roles!