Why did you choose ISoA to study architecture?
Illinois School of Architecture offered me the flexibility to choose my courses, and hence, strengthen my base in my interest areas. The school has an amazing faculty- showcasing a mix of the practice and research with diverse expertise. Thanks to its proximity to Chicago, this environment has offered a wealth of opportunities such as Chicago Studio, which allowed me the much needed exposure in the industry of Architecture.
"Illinois School of Architecture offered me the flexibility to choose my courses, and hence, strengthen my base in my interest areas" - Kirti Panwar
Are you glad that you did?
I have completed one year in the Graduate program of Architecture, and I am very glad to have chosen this university. I have found my ‘zeitgeist’, what I want to be and do in architecture. I am in this pool of knowledge, with every batch-mate, every professor and every opportunity teaching me something new at every step.
Is there a particular area/topic of architecture that you’re interested in?
I applied to this university with a strong inclination towards the urban aspect of architecture and certain factors that I held important as a budding architect. I have found my answer, encompassing the environment, the lives of people and importance of sustainability with the creation of architecture- urbanism. The university provided me with various seminars and subjects to be able to arrive at this answer and now I am guiding my remaining year to becoming a wholesome architect with the sensibility of the urban place and environment.
What did you do this past summer?
This past summer brought an unexpected opportunity of being a teaching assistant for a program- Discover Architecture. It is a summer-camp for high school students to introduce them to architecture and to this school. Discussing and communicating ideas with high-school students was a fun and a unique learning experience. I also studied and passed my Exam for becoming a LEED Green Associate- which was another way of expanding knowledge. Leisurely speaking, frisbee games and swimming with friends also enriched my summer.
Do you feel like ISoA is preparing you for a career in architecture?
ISoA has a rich mix of faculty, many of them from a strong practice background and network. Their experience and wisdom are valuable. Chicago Studio is another opportunity to dive into the Chicago firm culture and experience architecture as an industry of its own. There are other courses as well as time-to-time organized workshops by clubs which help every student to extend to the practice. Many studio projects also help us gain qualities required in a firm- either by choice of project, or through teamwork or a rich jury for reviews. Collectively, the school gives us many opportunities to prepare ourselves for a career in architecture.
"ISoA has a rich mix of faculty, many of them from a strong practice background and network. Their experience and wisdom are valuable" - Kirti Panwar
If you could change one thing about your architecture education, what would it be?
I would like inclusion of classes enhancing communication and psychological skills which would help us understand our clients or the communities we would indulge with. Also, I would like to experiment and work with more model-making equipment and methods and make myself more familiar and aware of materials.
What part of the country/world would you like to work once you graduate?
I would love to work in the United States, there are many cities in this country which are a hub for architecture students and have many budding demand and architectural scenes. I have a strong love for Europe, for their approach to architecture, coupled with strong urbanism and sustainability- the Netherlands, the Scandinavian side, Barcelona, Paris, etc. I have a desire to work as an experience in Tokyo, Japan since Japanese architecture, architects and culture fascinate me immensely. If any other opportunities come my way, I will take them. I feel seeing different places have something highly productive and unique to offer to an architect. I would eventually settle in my home country- India and serve it in my own possible manner.
"Explore, explore and explore!" - Kirti Panwar
What one piece of advice would you give to current freshman architecture student? What do you wish you knew that you know now?
Explore, explore and explore! As a freshman, I dived into whatever possible and developed a lot of extra-curricular oriented skills too. It is all a part of personality development. It is surprisingly crucial to figuring out your inclination toward a specific component of architecture, it being a magnificent field. I wish I knew through my undergraduate studies, the importance of time management- I knew that it is important but somehow never fully understood it, at least not enough to work towards achieving it. I understand its importance now and I am working on it. It is one important life skill to hone and master.
What one thing would you recommend that would improve the life of being a student in the school of architecture?
I would recommend time management, as mentioned above and a sense of discipline. They both together are important to maintain work-life balance and give attention to one’s health, which is something I continue to work upon. I would also recommend that try to learn whatever you can, from whomever you can. It is good to be confident but replace your ‘I knows’ with anything you find you didn’t know and can learn. Also, self satisfaction is the key, with the work you produce, with how you play your part as a team and it is more important to focus on rather than appreciation. We joke that architecture students have no life, but it is recharging for the grey matter to indulge in something apart from architecture. And being in touch, spending time with family and friends is important, they are and should be an important part of your life.
Did you have a favorite professor from a previous semester? Who was it and why?
I have been lucky to get great professors in both of my semesters. The amount of effort they put into your studio projects and seminars, and the passion they radiate for their subject is truly inspiring and educating. My first semester was Chicago Studio- a whole new experience in its own and being in a different country, learning a different culture, altogether made the first semester crucial. My professor for Chicago Studio- Prof. Deutsch, made this process very fruitful and smooth. I have gained valuable life lessons from him as my teacher.
Anything else you’d like us to know about you?
I am an inquisitive person. I love architecture and always have since a very young age. Its power to create, enhance and serve the environment and people have always inspired me. Out of studio, I love dancing, playing basketball, swimming, reading, gardening, arranging rooms and spending time with family and friends. I am a nature person which stems from my upbringing. I love traveling and feel that it is super essential and fun to learn from different lives, places and cultures. When I become rich, I would like to spend on traveling, food, sport shoes and on creating my own library.