Building From Here: The Journey of a Summer Intern

By August 4, 2020Ideas, Practice

As we began our descent into Salt Lake City, and the street intersections and city lights became clear, I thought about how the built environment and how we interact with it are constantly guided by the thoughts and hopes of architects. I held in my hands The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. She highlighted how in many major cities, we see how architecture has failed to include all its members. We see glorious structures that leave silent suffering in the shadows of skyscrapers. On my first day as an intern at Lloyd Architects in Salt Lake City, I couldn’t stop thinking about how the most inspiring and important architectural projects are the buildings that include everyone, and I worried if in the field it was easy to lose sight of the most fundamental part of our cities – the values, lifestyles and attitudes of the people who live in them. After working alongside Warren Lloyd and his stellar team, I learned that architecture is in fact the seams that hold us all together, that makes our collective experience successful, that tells our stories long after we are gone. Architecture, from what I have observed at Lloyd Architects, is a vessel to not only convey the hopes and dreams of future dwellers but also to convey the story of our collective history, to honour those who came before us, and to protect the surrounding nature that will ultimately outlive all of us. I have learned that perhaps the best way to solve daunting problems, to fight for social justice, to bring people together, is to start by designing systems that transcend bias and time to redefine the way our world functions. So that one day, one structure at a time, we might live a more balanced, cohesive and inspired life.

For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be an architect when I grow up. It seemed to open up the whole world to me, and to combine all the subjects I adored at school: math, science, art and history in order to build the future. Most of all it seemed like a way to impact people’s lives for the better. To my delight, watching talented architects at work was just as magical as I had imagined. In fact, I think it was even more so, because the models they built on their screens that extended into three dimensional space, with clean lines and ambitious angles, would one day soon be real. I would sit for hours behind these design legends as they worked. They could tell me not only what calculations were needed in order to suspend a hanging floor level, or what colour scheme made sense for the Sundance forest area, but also what the clients loved to do in their free time, where their kids were going to college, and the reasons a lawn had to be 20x44ft (for badminton tournaments of course!). They designed these homes to tell the stories of the families who would soon write new ones in them. When I heard that, I knew I was in the right place. 

Working in Salt Lake City was perfect. It is surrounded by mountains, so that no matter how far down the highway you drive, you’ll always see them in all their majesty, constantly and silently rising into the sky, lime green in the daytime and purple at sunset. Many of our site visits were in those mountains or along the historic Provo river. Lloyd Architects has a deep-rooted value of sustainability in every design. Working with great teams to maximize and harness the potential of the landscape with innovative hydro, solar and wind power options, every build works to reduce emissions and give back in some way to the environment. Every site I visited was breathtakingly beautiful, each with unique terrain, requirements and styles. The groups who had been working on these projects for months were all just as excited and in awe of the process as I was. 

I count my blessings for having been accepted to intern when other firms closed their doors on high school kids during COVID. I will never forget what it felt like to be welcomed by Warren’s firm and his family this summer. As our wheels left the tarmac of Salt Lake City, I noticed my dog-eared book in my backpack. Jane Jacobs reminded me of something fundamental; every build – from initial sketches to ultimate fruition – touches and shapes peoples’ lives in some way. It is up to architects and engineers to make sure that spaces in our cities make the best possible impact, by including everyone, and protecting the planet for future generations.  From my time working under Warren Lloyd, I saw first hand that by building with principles and for the community, the future is looking very bright. My experiences at Lloyd Architects will stay with me always, and will push me to work hard each day so that one day soon I might be teaching an intern about the school or home I’ll be designing. It doesn’t sound like an easy path ahead; it sounds like it might be lonely at times – especially for young women going into engineering – but I think it will be the most inspiring and rewarding journey yet. I am so looking forward to being a part of it all. 

Written by Sofie Roux

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