Why did you choose ISoA to study architecture?
When I was a junior in high school, I developed an interest in architecture and began researching various architecture programs. I soon found the architecture program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and was impressed by everything it had to offer. I believe what really made me choose ISoA was the variety of careers paths that graduates can pursue. I hadn’t had much exposure to architecture before coming to UIUC, so it was nice to know that there are many opportunities available to me.
What really made me choose ISoA was the variety of career paths that graduates can pursue. - Conor Schafer
Are you glad that you did? Why/why not?
With all things considered, absolutely. While I do not plan on pursuing architectural design, I would not be in my current position without this program. At the ISoA, there is not a single path that all students must follow. We are given the unique opportunity to develop our own academic narrative.
At the ISoA, there is not a single path that all students must follow. We are given the unique opportunity to develop our own academic narrative. - Conor Schafer
Is there a particular area/topic of architecture that you’re interested in?
In recent times, I have developed an intense attraction to the unique structural engineering featured in formally complex, contemporary works of architecture. Many people don’t think about the engineering that makes the architecture possible. To me, the engineering is often just as elegant and impressive as the architecture. I want to take my architectural education and apply it to structural engineering. This will allow me to engineer complex structures that are in tune with the architectural goals of the projects.
What did you do this past summer?
I had the pleasure of working for Thornton Tomasetti’s Chicago office. Thornton Tomasetti, aka TT, is a structural engineering firm. It is here that I became addicted to the sensation generated by the idea that I was helping create something that many people will experience. I worked with the renewal group that focuses on restoration and new additions on preexisting sites. I had the pleasure of working with talented architects and engineers who welcomed me and made me feel like a part of the team. I had the opportunity to work on many well know sites in Chicago such as the Navy Pier and other various landmarks. I cannot imagine anywhere else that could have offered me such a rich summer experience.
Do you feel like ISoA is preparing you for a career in architecture?
ISoA has prepared me for a career in architecture and many other fields. In my opinion, we are earning a polytechnic degree. We are taught core architectural concepts along with other subjects such as structures, Architecture History, HVAC, and lighting. This diverse education gives students unique skills that makes them desirable in many fields.
I would like to see emerging technology better integrated into our curriculum. There are many programs and systems that are having an amazing impact on our industry that we are not being taught how to utilize. - Conor Schafer
If you could change one thing about your architecture education, what would it be?
I would like to see emerging technology better integrated into our curriculum. There are many programs and systems that are having an amazing impact on our industry that we are not being taught how to utilize.
What part of the country/world would you like to work once you graduate?
Somewhere warm would be nice; I’ve grown tired of midwestern winters! From a more professional angle, I would have to say the east or west coast. I want to work on the development of architectural and structural programs and the coasts seems to be the place to be regarding technologic development.
What one piece of advice would you give to current freshman architecture student? What do you wish you knew that you know now?
My piece of advice would be to try your best and then give 20% more. Architecture can be exhausting and once the end is in sight, it is easy to give up and call it a day. Giving that extra 20% has helped me to constantly redefine my best and continue to grow throughout my academic career. Something that I wish I knew as a freshman would have to be that architecture is an iterative process. I hated moving through iterations ad nauseum, but once I accepted this idea, life became much simpler.
What one thing would you recommend that would improve the life of being a student in the school of architecture?
All I ask is that the work load is spread evenly over the semester. Many architecture classes require a lot of time and attention. If the work load is not relatively even in most classes, heavy points can overlap and overwhelm students. That being said, ISoA professors are typically flexible and will manipulate the course schedule based on students’ work load.
I am a product of all the people who have helped me throughout my education and budding career; I could not have done it without them. - Conor Schafer
Did you have a favorite professor from a previous semester?
I have had too many inspiring professors to mention just one, so here’s few. Professor Dearborn taught me the value of nature and how to properly integrate architecture into nature. Professor Deutsch introduced me to tech side of architecture and has helped me achieve exciting things early in my professional career. Professor Uihlein inspired my inner structural engineer and prepared me well for internship at a structural engineering firm. AnnaMarie Bliss taught me how to sketch and helped me develop the confidence to use the drawings as effective deliverables. Professor Burns taught me the complexities of architectural history and made her classes exciting and enjoyable. Her contributions to our education is invaluable. There are many more fantastic professors at ISoA, but I do not have the space to properly thank everyone who has had an impact on my education.
Anything else you’d like us to know about you?
I am a product of all the people who have helped me throughout my education and budding career; I could not have done it without them.
I also just got a cat, her name is Anastasia. She’s pretty great.