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SSCE, Day 10-11: The Calm Before the Storm

July 14, 2010


Ah yes, we have come to the fated “calm before the storm.”  I use the word “calm” loosely, because the kind of calm we experience here at Parsons simply means that we get to leave the studio before 9PM. (What will I do with all of my free time!?)

The storm brewing on the horizon is our final project, issued to us yesterday by our Studio professor, which I’m actually pretty excited about.  Our task is to design an alternative transit station (a.k.a. a bike storage facility) for a site in Chelsea which can park up to 800 bikes, and which includes an information kiosk, locker rooms, a bike rental shop, and a rooftop park and cafe/juice bar!  Wait: it gets even better. We not only have to design the facility from the ground up, but represent it in 2-D draftings, and 3-D digital and physical models as well.  It’s going to be a long two and a half weeks!

Even though it’s going to be a lot of work the result will be worth it.  We will have a fully designed and completed architectural project, which will be a perfect start to my architectural portfolio.  I’ll post updates on it as it progresses — I just started building the foam and digital site models today so that I can start working directly in three dimensions.  I’m excited to see what shape my design takes in the next two weeks.

In other exciting news, a group from our “In the City” class took a tour of a working lighting design firm today!  We visited Tillotson Design Associates in Tribeca, a mid-size lighting design consultancy started in 2004.

TDA is responsible for numerous nation-wide and international projects, but some of their more recent New York projects include the Vera Wang flagship store (above), Diane Von Furstenburg New York, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the School of American Ballet.  Their firm is comprised of about 15 designers including three principals, and their backgrounds vary from architecture to interior design, to a little bit of theatre too.

At first glance upon entering the office I immediately recognized a few sheets of theatrical gel sitting on the desk, which instantly put me at ease, and after exploring the office a bit more I actually found a great number of theatrical fixture catalogs and other assorted equipment that I recognized.  I was a bit surprised, but at the same time I wasn’t, given the prominent convergence of theatrical and architectural lighting over the past few years. At any rate, I immediately felt comfortable in the space, which was relieving.

We met with one of the newer members of the team, Erin, who was a recent grad of the Parsons MFA Lighting program!  After speaking with her more I was further relieved to find out that the firm actually employs a handful of Parsons MFA Lighting graduates, all of whom were hired right out of school!

Erin graciously answered all of our questions for us, which ranged from questions about her role at the firm, to the firm’s projects and organization, to jobs, internships, and life as a lighting designer.  A lot of her answers, not surprisingly, aligned exactly with what I had experienced or learned about architectural firms in the past. (Having interned at a lighting systems office in Las Vegas at PRG a few summers ago, I sort of knew what to expect.)  It was interesting to hear about working in New York, though, which she really promoted as a good place to break into the industry.

After all was said and done I was mostly just relieved to know that my Parsons degree will get me a job in my field, and that if I have any questions that I can contact Erin, who has “been there, done that” a few years before me.

I’m really excited, now, for the next two years; especially for the possibilities of what could happen after graduation!  Bring it on, Parsons!


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