My first day at Payette was not the day I started my internship this summer. It was actually almost a year ago when I was invited to meet the jury that awarded me the first Payette Sho-Ping Chin Memorial Scholarship. I vividly remember that day. I put on my friendliest smile and brightest headscarf, all the while trying to look and act as professional as possible. I cannot describe adequately the warmth with which I was treated during my visit – from the minute I walked in (no one gives a welcome quite like our receptionist Priscilla Klotz), throughout the tour of the office with Payette President Kevin Sullivan and Associate Principal Ching Hua Ho, to meeting with Sho-Ping’s incredible cohort of female colleagues. I had the opportunity to hear their stories, witness some of the amazing work and get a taste of the work culture and environment that makes Payette what it is. I left that day with a strange sense of familiarity and a curiosity to learn more. I was privileged to be able to do just that this summer.
On the first day of my internship, a major new commission for the firm was announced and I was lucky enough to be given the exciting opportunity to join the Healthcare Design Team. I was eager to learn as much as I could about healthcare design and I was fortunate to work with a group of people that cared about my growth, who were there to answer my questions and help me with my problems. Through their fantastic communication with me and others, it was evident how each member is invested in the community the project serves – a lesson that is endlessly beneficial to me as I think about the real purpose of architecture. Their welcoming attitudes made me feel like a part of the team, and the trust they bestowed in me made me feel like much more than an intern. On one of the first occasions I met the Principal-in-Charge of my project, he told me that to be a successful architect one must have talent but more importantly a great personality. That stuck with me and made me realize that once in the field, architecture is not only about what you bring to a team, it is also about how you bring it.
While it is impossible to talk about all the lessons I have learned and the experiences I cherish most, some highlights during my internship would be: working and learning directly with Payette Principal George Marsh and also encountering first-hand the famous ‘Marsh Mud’ drawings, meeting the legendary Thomas Payette in person, attending the Women Principals Group Meeting at the BSA with Heather Taylor and other inspiring female leaders in the field, regular lunches with Payette Associate Mollica Manandhar who I hope to be in 10 years, ‘Fridays at 4’, ‘Milkshakes at 3’ (a short-lived tradition among the interns), Revit training boot camp and all-day site tours to speak directly with the users of the hospital.
Most significantly, what completed my experience were the numerous anecdotes about Sho-Ping Chin from the people she had surrounded herself with daily – stories of her tenacity, leadership and fierceness. I was honored to be selected as the recipient of a scholarship that sets a milestone for women in architecture as the first of its kind, and now I am humbled by the opportunity to learn first-hand in the environment that enabled Sho-Ping Chin to impact change and inspire people with her commitment to design.
With my internship nearing an end, I know that I am leaving with an abundance of knowledge about professional practice and new design skills. Yet my greatest realization is how important people are, in any phase of a project, whether a member of the design team or in the community of users. This realization is so much clearer in a healthcare project where it is evident how one can do more for others through architecture than by any other means. I now better understand my own place in architecture because I was connected to these people, connected to the users of the hospital and the architects who work relentlessly for the welfare of a successful project for an improved user environment.
I remember being told that Payette would help me establish connections within the profession and be a resource for me to use at any point in my career. I can confidently say that Payette is more than a resource for me – it has provided me with unique experiences, perspectives and a better understanding of the world in which we create and design. More importantly, it has given me invaluable wisdom, knowledge and memories with people who I am honored to call my friends and mentors for (I hope) the rest of my life. I look back on my three-month experience at Payette and feel that I have been more influenced in one summer than it seems I have in three years of architecture school. I was hired as an intern, but leave the office as a member of the Payette family, and for that, I am forever changed, inspired and endlessly grateful.