Interview with Nick Christopher

February 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Nick Christopher, Architectural Designer at Gensler, Los Angeles, spoke to the  IARc community on Monday, January 23rd. He  presented “Digital Design and Iterations,” which highlighted portions of his student and professional work.

Blog contributor Kara Kooy asked him some questions regarding his design history and philosophy:

IARc: What first interested you in design?

Christopher: My father is a carpenter who dabbles with the designs of the residences he builds. He put me to work early on and along the way I acquired a great appreciation for the process of design and building. For me the question is: how do I (and we as a profession) remain relevant and increase design awareness? Does licensure create relevancy for the profession? How do we get others interested in design?

Convincing yourself of the benefits of design is one thing. Convincing developers, institutions, and governments of the benefits of design is an entirely different ball game. I would like to see less emphasis on design as an art form that stems from one genius’s imagination [think the Foundation Head] and more emphasis on the design processes that design teams undertake together with their clients.

IARc: What college did you attend and why?

Christopher: Undergrad was an easy choice. Out of the two Illinois state schools that offered architecture degrees, only one offered me admittance, and I think this worked out for the best. Unknowingly, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Architecture program was very progressive compared to the top pick that did not let me in – the University of Illinois. Schools are constantly going through changes and hiring new faculty. Ultimately, it is the faculty that make a department. Schools like Harvard are always going to have a stellar faculty line up, but when you are comparing less renowned  schools you must be diligent about understanding were the department is heading in terms of future pedagogy. You must make sure that the school’s current teaching criteria and faculty align with your interests.

When it came to graduate school, I applied to numerous programs ranging from University of Pennsylvania to Clemson University. Ultimately, I attended Clemson. For me, it came down to who was offering the most bang for the buck. While Clemson not only offered an affordable high level education, they offered a great deal of opportunity for travel study and design build, which I happily participated in both.

IARc: What is the most important thing you’ve learned from your design education and work experience?

Christopher: Perfect your design processes, not your design products.

IARc: What is at least one piece of advice you’d give to anyone pursuing a design education?

Christopher: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable when you start a design process. For me, it’s always a little daunting when I start a new design. This is good – it means I am on the right track.

During his visit to UNCG, Christopher participated in Assistant Professor Jonathon Anderson's CODED design studio course, which focuses on digital design and fabrication. Photo by Jonathon Anderson.


Photo by Jonathon Anderson.

Contributed by Kara Kooy, [3rd] year


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