What are you working on these days?
At Gensler I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects ranging from small interior build-outs to large-scale ground up buildings. During the first half of this year, I was primarily working on Columbia College’s new student center in the South Loop while also helping out with Navy Pier’s renovations and a research center in San Jose. We just finished up working on a competition to reposition the Milwaukee Center in Wisconsin and now I am ramping up on a massive project for Kohler.
When I started at UIUC back in 2010, I was fairly confident I knew what I was getting into. That didn't last very long. - JP Harmon
How well did ISoA prepare you for what you’re doing now?
When I started at UIUC back in 2010, I was fairly confident I knew what I was getting into. That didn't last very long. My first studio courses at UIUC introduced me to a new way of thinking about architecture and design that I had never considered before. For me, one of the most important things that I took away from the experience is the ability to quickly understand a design problem and provide multiple solutions to that particular issue in a short amount of time. Architecture school teaches students to think for themselves and allows them to form their own opinions and views about design. UIUC’s program gives students the flexibility to shape their education into exactly what they want it to be. Also, our graduate program offers an array of joint degree options.
What one piece of advice would you give to our current architecture students?
NETWORK! I can’t stress this enough to current students. It is obviously very important to have a stellar portfolio, but what will give you a leg up on others when applying for jobs are your connections. Make friends with older students who might be in a position one day at a firm to recommend you. Once you land that first interview though, your connections can’t help you very much from that point on. So, it is up to you to sell yourself and prove that you can do the job better than anyone else.
UIUC’s (architecture) program gives students the flexibility to shape their education into exactly what they want it to be. - JP Harmon
What's something you miss about school?
One of the best parts about school is that you are always your own client. So you are able to take a project in any direction that you want from the very beginning. You have the freedom to explore anything you desire. Of course there are always some constraints, but at the end of the day you are always the one making the final decisions. In addition to this, budget is non-existent in school so you are really able to push the limits of technology and design through your projects.
Something you don’t miss about school?
Although I’ve experienced some late nights at the office, nothing is quite comparable to the amount of hours spent in the studio at UIUC. Also, not having to work much over weekends is something I’ve definitely gotten used to in the professional world.
There is a wonderful harmony between the design and technical aspects of architecture at the school, and UIUC balances both very effectively in the studios, seminars and courses that are offered. - JP Harmon
Did you have a favorite professor? Who was it and why?
I didn’t have a favorite professor in particular, because I felt that each course I took had something different and equally important to offer me. I believe that is one of the greatest strengths of our program. There is a wonderful harmony between the design and technical aspects of architecture at the school, and UIUC balances both very effectively in the studios, seminars and courses that are offered.
If you could go back and do college over what would you do differently and why?
I would definitely try to delve deeper into researching VR technology and augmented reality. This is something that I have seen becoming more and more popular in practice. I believe it to be the future of how we design buildings.