Architecture profession intertwines buildings, people and stories
In order to design a new room or building, Kevin Clark wants to know the people who will live and work in the space: How do they work, what do they need, what prevents them from completing a task.
Clark is an architect with Clark Architects Collaborative 3 and father of two students at Pius X High School. He considers not just architectural items but also structural, mechanical, electrical and acoustical engineering. Whether he’s designing a classroom or a monastery, the details matter: how the building is held up, how the building is heated and cooled and how noises and sounds are controlled, and more.
“Kevin comes in every other year and without any prompting he reinforces what I teach,” McKee said. “The things the kids point out – the group work, planning, sketching, paying attention to detail – there are so many things he brings up.”
Clark’s work on buildings varies greatly, but some of the biggest issues are consistently present. A quiet environment is a must for a monastery, but quiet classrooms can have an impact on students in a high school classroom, as well. (Clark mentioned research that shows the type of lighting has helped students’ test scores.)
Clark advised students to find a career and job they love. He loves architecture in part because it allows – and requires, actually – getting to know people, their lives, historical aspects of the land or organization, and more.
He took the required math and physics classes in high school and college, and those courses play a role in architecture, but he said he more frequently his writing skills in his profession because he writes many emails and proposals. Those need to be clear and project a sense of expertise.
Clark highlighted a few points of interest on a project his company is working on, a new building for the Valley of our Lady Monastery in Wisconsin:
- The sisters in this order pray seven times a day, and only speak 20 minutes a day. Those are part of the initial learning experience Clark undertook to better understand the needs.
- The sisters bake altar bread that will be used as hosts.
- The land area is 220 acres, with trees and valleys and other features. The exact location of the monastery and the direction it faces is impacted by sun, wind, sound and views.
- A road must be built on the property, but because it’s in Wisconsin where the weather turns cold, it can’t be too close to a tree line or the snow and ice won’t melt quickly.
- When he asked sisters in the monastery why they received the project, when other companies might have been more qualified, he was told their decision came to them in prayer.
Clark showed the students renderings of this project, as well as little sketch books many architects use when traveling to take notes and draw sketches. Sometimes, he amazes himself with what he draws as an initial rendering.
“I drew it, but I can not draw well, so I know that was God’s work through me,” he said.
Clark said his company organizes a job shadow experience each semester so students can see the inner-workings of buildings to learn more about the profession.
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