Meet Britney, Aspiring Wave-Maker Architect
by Amanda Medress
15th Waver Britney, a sophomore at UC Berkeley, took a step towards her goal of becoming an architect through a summer internship with Studio Bondy Architecture, the firm designing the Making Waves Academy campus expansion project. Learn about Britney’s return to her alma mater and her hands-on architecture experience—including building a 3D model of the gymnasium using SketchUp and writing the punch list for the new upper school buildings.
How have you enjoyed the beginning of your time at Cal?
UC Berkeley has been a big adjustment. In some scenarios, I felt many steps behind everyone else. To make up for it, I had to not be discouraged and instead take advantage of every opportunity I had. My favorite part has been the amount of learning I’ve done. I was able to learn how to speak Italian for a semester and even had to write essays entirely in Italian. I also took Native American studies and learned so much about indigenous history that is not taught in many high schools. My introductory architecture class was also one of my favorites because I learned about connections between architecture and the rest of the world that I didn’t even know existed.
At Making Waves Academy, what were your favorite classes?
Art classes were my absolute favorite. I always found value in all my classes, but I loved the reflection and visual language involved with art. Many things I enjoyed about art classes in high school are what eventually drew me to architecture.
When and how did you start getting interested in architecture?
I never considered architecture until I got to college because I assumed there’d be a strong emphasis on math and science. I applied to Cal under the sociology major but was still “undeclared” and unsure of what I wanted to do. Once I started in the fall, I researched all the majors available at Cal to really understand what I’d be getting myself into. During that time, what I found out about architecture really interested me, so I attended events and presentations going on in their department. During my second semester, I took the introductory class, and I loved learning about how architecture can connect with people, communities, and the natural environment. That class is what convinced me to declare architecture as my major.
What did you do while interning with Studio Bondy?
While interning with Studio Bondy one of the first things I did was look through the construction administration for the Making Waves expansion project. In short, it is an extensive set of plans and instructions that include every imaginable detail of the project. I also got to visit the work site for meetings with Making Waves representatives, plumbers, engineers, and contractors. On the worksite, I was also able to help make “punch lists”, where we logged anything that still needed to be fixed or completed. Again, this involved every imaginable detail from stray paint marks to how the stairway is welded. I also learned how to use SketchUp, a computer program for making 3D models. I began making a 3D model of the high school gym that hasn’t been built yet and practiced using SketchUp every day as I worked on this project.
What was your favorite part of the internship?
The site visits were my favorite. I particularly enjoyed seeing how all the people working in different areas came together to make the MWA expansion a reality. Being an architect, you don’t understand all the intricacies that the electricians or plumbers are dealing with. Architects are still able to work on a project and rely on each other’s knowledge to solve a problem.
What type of architecture are you most interested in practicing?
I’m not entirely sure what type of architecture I prefer yet. Being at the firm I was able to learn about how different projects can create different experiences for you as an architect. For example, working on a house is very personal because you work with a family and are designing something that specifically caters to them. On the other hand, working on a school is a much more community-based project that is meant to fit the needs of many people, and can take many more years than to build than a house. I would like to be a part of many projects to really understand what they’re like through my own experience.
What do you think of the new Making Waves Academy campus?
The Making Waves expansion is amazing. Seeing the expansion after all my years there made me feel happy that the students will experience this even more vibrant approach to school. I was a freshman when the plans started, and I still remember seeing the campus model next to the front office. At that time, the expansion was difficult to imagine as a reality. Now I can see it after I’ve graduated and from the perspective of the architects. I can still personally relate as a student who would have loved to experience all the new activities and spaces that are part of the expansion.