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在SOM建筑事务所工作是一种怎样的体验?第1张图片

© SOM | Lucas Blair

建筑生涯:建筑师就职于SOM事务所的三年回忆
Building a Career in Architecture: A Designer Reflects on Her First Three Years at SOM

由专筑网李韧,杨帆编译

在不久之前,Lulu Li仍然是建筑学院的一名研究生,在那里,她接受着良好的教育,完成着童年的梦想。而自从三年前,在加入SOM建筑事务所,成为一名建筑师之后,LuLu的成长愈发迅速,她现在成为了韦尔斯利学院科学中心设计团队的负责人。我们就其经历对她进行了采访,详细了解她所面临的机遇与挑战,以及她对即将开始职业生涯的建筑生们的建议。

你是如何对建筑产生兴趣的呢?

Lulu Li:我出生于上海,在小时候,我常常能看到浦东外滩的两座超高层建筑。其中一座是东方明珠,另一座则是由SOM设计的金茂大厦。这两座塔楼非常高大,对我来说,未来就是这样。

Not so long ago, Lulu Li was in a classroom in graduate school, inspired by her education, the buildings around her, and a childhood dream. Since joining SOM as an entry-level architect a little more than three years ago, Lulu has grown in her role. She’s now a leader of the design team for a new science center at Wellesley College. We spoke with Lulu to learn more about her experience: the opportunities she’s found, the challenges she’s faced, and her advice for new graduates ready to begin their careers.

How did you get interested in architecture?
Lulu Li: I was born in Shanghai and as a child, I remember watching the first two supertalls being built across the Bund, in Pudong. One was the Oriental Pearl Tower and the other was the Jin Mao Tower (designed by SOM). Those new towers were bigger, taller, more daring than anything previously in the city. To me, it was what the future looked like.

在SOM建筑事务所工作是一种怎样的体验?第2张图片

Photo © Chung King

在我7岁时,我们全家移民到了马萨诸塞州。三年级时,老师要求我们描写一下对未来的愿景,我觉得成年人不应该只幻想着卡通世界,于是我写了当时心之所向的职业,那便是建筑师。后来,我在耶鲁大学学习建筑学,之后又在哈佛大学获得建筑学硕士学位。

你何时知道你的选择是否正确?

一开始,我真不知道建筑学的具体含义。在大一的时候,我就有个危机意识,一直在担心如果自己不喜欢建筑,那该怎么办,或者说我在这一行如果做得不太好怎么办。从9岁时,我就希望自己能够成为一名建筑师,但我并没有认真思考到底什么才是好建筑。人们常常意识不到自己对环境的影响,但是我们所处在的每个空间都是规划师、工程师、建筑师的细心研究成果。随着所学知识的增长,我越来越希望能够塑造适合人类生活的环境。

那最终是什么促使你加入了SOM事务所?

在我刚毕业时,并未考虑过SOM。而在我做完自己的简历和作品集之后,我收到一位同学发来的电子邮件,告诉我在纽约的SOM事务所中正好有一个职位空缺,那么我就想,我应该去争取一下。

在我面试之后,面试官向我展示了工作室过往的项目,我对这项工作感到十分的惊讶。SOM的作品常常令人眼前一亮,但是在学校里,不会有太多人关注这个事务所具体在做些什么。我对于自己的所见很感兴趣,在这里必将诞生有所作为的建筑师。

你是否有经历过一些与你预期所不同的事呢?
   
SOM的声誉很好,这是一家合作型事务所,结构层次也十分明晰,并且我也很了解自己该做什么。但我发现小型工作室是这里的主要工作形式,当然,你也能够从周边的伙伴身上学到很多,这里的设计师都很有天赋。我和合作同事也成为了亲密的伙伴。我之前说过,我在一开始所接触的项目就十分有趣。我非常荣幸能够为公司的文化做出贡献,而且伙伴们也很能接受我的想法。在这里,你需要拥有主观能动性。

My family immigrated to Massachusetts when I was seven. In third grade, I was asked to write an essay on what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t know any adults who liked cartoons, so I wrote about the most adult-sounding profession that gets to draw: an architect. I went on to study architecture as an undergrad at Yale, and later got my masters in architecture from the GSD [Harvard Graduate School of Design].

When did you know you made the right choice?
To be honest, at the beginning, I didn’t really know what architecture was. I had a crisis moment right before my first year in college. I worried, “What if I hate this? What if I’m terrible at it?” I had somehow convinced myself since I was nine years old that I wanted to be an architect, but I had no idea nor had I ever seriously considered what a good building was. Most people do not feel a sense of individual agency to affect our larger environment, but everything in our urban fabric is the result of the collaboration between planners, developers, engineers, architects, and the communities they serve. The more I learned, the more I wanted to be a part of that — of thoughtfully shaping our environment.

What made you decide to join SOM?
When I first graduated from architecture school, I hadn’t considered SOM. I had just finished putting together my portfolio and my resume when I got an email from an old classmate. There was an opening on her team in SOM’s New York office, and I thought, why not apply?
I got an interview with the person who I report to today. He took me along the gallery wall and showed me the projects at the office. And I was really surprised and excited by the work. SOM has an incredible legacy, but in school, there’s not much focus on what the firm is doing today. I was interested by the work that I was seeing, and I thought this would be a great place to be trained as an architect.

Has your experience been different from what you expected?
SOM has a reputation as being — I’m going to put in air quotes — a “corporate firm.” I thought there might be a lot of hierarchy, and I wondered how much I’d be able to contribute. But what I found is that small studios are at the core of the experience here. Naturally, you learn a lot from the people around you, and there is tremendous talent and expertise in the office. My coworkers have also become close friends. And as I said, I got to work on some exciting projects from the start. It’s also rewarding to be able to contribute to the firm’s culture and practice. I have found the office receptive to my ideas and what I can bring to the work. There’s no one way to do things — you are encouraged to take your own initiative.

在SOM建筑事务所工作是一种怎样的体验?第3张图片

Image © SOM | Lucas Blair

在你的日常工作中,是什么激励着你呢?

我发现我们所做的学校项目都很有价值。因为我们需要去思考什么样的空间能够更好地进行学习与教学,或者是能更好地促进合作与交流。就个人而言,我非常感激那些为我们进行投资的教育者,最开始我只是一个不会说英文的移民者,到后来成为能够独立思考未来职业发展的研究生。能够为高等教育做出贡献,并且为国家培育后代,这些都是激励我的因素所在。

那你主要的日常工作都是做些什么呢?

在这里的每一天,我都会挑战自己,做一些暂时超出能力范围的事。工作的内容只能代表当下的时刻,因为时不时都会有新的挑战需要面对。这也是工作的趣味所在。

What inspires you in your work every day?
I find the work we do for colleges and universities very rewarding. These are program-driven projects that ask us to consider how spaces can enable new methods of teaching and learning, new environments for collaboration, and new ways to foster community. From a personal perspective, I feel deeply grateful for the educators that have invested and advocated for me as a young person — from when I was an immigrant child who couldn’t speak English, to a graduate student considering career options. To be able to contribute to higher education and help shape those environments for future generations of students is a personally rewarding motivation.

What does your typical week look like here?
Every day, I’m challenged to do something just beyond what I know how to do. The typical day is only so typical for a short while, because something new will come along that extends your responsibilities and evolves your job. That’s what keeps things interesting.

在SOM建筑事务所工作是一种怎样的体验?第4张图片

Image Courtesy of Lulu Li

现在,我们正在进行的是韦尔斯利学院一个项目的设计开发阶段。该项目比较复杂,我们需要对现有建筑进行翻新,然后再进行扩建。我们来到现场与老师们进行沟通,了解他们的真实需求。我们的合作团队至少有90名顾问,其中包括结构、机电、照明、景观、土木工程、实验规划、AV/IT、声学、可持续等专业人员。我们需要研究和选择材料,并定期和供应商沟通、看样品,或是了解新产品。与此同时,我们每周都会进行内部会议,讨论方案。在项目中,每个人都有自己的职责所在,合作是工作的基础。

对你来说,最大的嘉奖是什么?

我曾经接触过米尔斯坦中心项目,这是巴纳德学院的一座学术大楼,目前该项目正在施工中。上个星期,巴纳德学院举办了周年庆典,包括我在内的SOM设计小组也参加了活动。该项目的合作伙伴告诉我说:“你非常幸运,刚入行就能看到自己的在建项目。”

Right now, we’re in the Design Development phase for a project at Wellesley College. It’s a complex project — we are renovating an existing building and designing a new addition. We have client presentations onsite and meet with the faculty to understand their pedagogical needs. We coordinate a team of more than 90 consultants that includes structure, MEP, lighting, landscape, civil engineering, lab planning, AV/IT, acoustics, and sustainability. We research and select materials and finishes, and meet with suppliers to look at samples and learn about new products. Concurrently, we have weekly internal meetings with the entire team to review design issues. While everyone has their own roles, collaboration is fundamental to our work.

What would you say is the most rewarding part?
I had worked on The Milstein Center, a new academic building at Barnard College that’s currently under construction. Last week Barnard had its annual gala, and some of us on the SOM team attended. I was with Roger [Duffy, the design partner in charge of the project], and he said to us, “You’re so fortunate to see a building built early in your career.”

在SOM建筑事务所工作是一种怎样的体验?第5张图片

Image Courtesy of SOM

我记得第一次去现场看这个项目时,建筑楼板已经建好,项目承包人正在明确墙体的位置。我离开后,心里想着,这就是我们设计的办公场所和教室,这些设备、材质都经过了我们的精心挑选。当下我就觉得自己的工作很有意义。

我最近来到韦尔斯利学院时,一些施工车辆已经来到现场,因为一些拆除工作已经开始。我仍然在心里感慨这一切近在眼前。曾经那些抽象的线条终于成为了现实,这又一次让我觉得这份工作极具价值。

你所面对的最大挑战是什么?

工作效率。事务所能为你提供很多机会,这也是SOM的一大特色。你会学到很多东西,但是你也因此需要花费时间去考虑和反思你所真正需要的东西,以及你未来的发展方向。

我们的项目经理习惯让客户和我们一起沟通,我们的技术负责人则更加专注图纸的质量与深度,我们的设计总监则特别注重设计思路。每个人都是我的老师,在这种环境下,我需要去考虑自己真正感兴趣的东西,同时扎实自己的专业基础。

I remember the first time I went up to Barnard to see the project. The slabs were in, and the contractors had marked out in chalk where the walls were going to be. I walked the space and thought, this is the office that we drew. This is the classroom that we laid out. These are all the devices we coordinated. The tiles that our team had picked out. That was a profoundly rewarding moment.
When I was onsite at Wellesley recently, the temporary trailers were already set up where the swing space is going to be, and they had begun demolition. I just said, “Wow — this is going to be real.” All those abstract lines are becoming a real thing. That’s what makes this job worthwhile.

What do you find the most challenging?
We work at a very fast pace. The office offers a lot of different opportunities, and that’s one of the great characteristics of SOM. You get exposed to so much. But you also need time to reflect and think about what you really care about, and where you want to deepen your expertise.
We have project managers who are passionate about client engagement. We have technical leaders who are dedicated to the quality of our construction and documents. We have design leaders who are invested in setting the standard for design. Each has been a mentor to me by example. In this environment, I am encouraged to consider what I am passionate about and where I want to deepen my own expertise.

在SOM建筑事务所工作是一种怎样的体验?第6张图片

Image Courtesy of Lulu Li

在这里最让你骄傲的事是什么?

现在还不存在这个说法。当韦尔斯利学院科学中心建成后,也许这会是一件很有意义的事。从竞标开始,我就一直跟着这个项目,这其实源于一个关于韦尔斯利学院科学未来发展的开放性问题。通过这个过程,我了解了这个学院的文化背景,并且与工作人员都进行了良好的沟通。在一次会面时恰好是我的生日,他们为我准备了蛋糕,这个时刻非常感人。建筑是个漫长的过程,一个项目的周期需要好几年。因此,在这座建筑最终投入使用时,也许会是我最骄傲的时刻。

你对新兴毕业生有哪些建议呢?

无论是在办公室还是在学校,都有许多关于建筑行业的消极看法。例如哪些项目又无法实现,或是工作又有多难找诸如此类,抑或是你为工作付出很多,可还是没有得到认可或得到相应的收入。但是你不可以被这些流言蜚语打败,也许有许多人在考虑转行,但你仍然应该考虑到行业的未来发展与可能性。

其实现实并没有那么极端,不同的工作都会产生不同的文化与理念,因此不要只是单纯地为了工作而工作。你需要考虑想要有什么样的经历,然后有的放矢。社会永远需要聪明的青年建筑师,有才就不会失业。

采访来源:SOM媒体博客

What’s been your proudest moment here?
I think it’s yet to come. When the Wellesley College Science Center is completed, that will be very meaningful. I’ve been part of this project since the competition stage, when it started with an open-ended question about the future of science at Wellesley. Through this process, I’ve gained insight into the college — its culture and its vision — and developed a relationship with its administrators and faculty. One of our meetings was on my birthday, and they surprised me with a cake. It was a very touching moment. Architecture is a long game. Projects often take years to complete. But I suspect that when this building finally opens, it will probably be my proudest moment at the office.

What advice would you give to new graduates?
In architecture — both in the workplace and in school — there’s a lot of pessimistic talk about the industry. That projects don’t get realized, and it’s hard to find a job. That you work a lot and don’t get compensated or recognized for it. Just look at the discussions on any architecture forum online. But don’t let that scare you off. A lot of people are ready to start thinking about other career choices when they graduate, before seeing for themselves what the industry could be.
I’ve found that the reality isn’t so extreme. Different offices have their own distinct cultures, process, and vision. Don’t just find an office that will offer you a job. Think about what type of experiences you want, and find a place that can offer you those experiences. We need more smart, young designers, now more than ever.
This interview originally appeared in SOM's blog on Medium.

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