As we approach the new school year, college students everywhere are looking forward to new opportunities and experiences. Unfortunately for us, this time means we have to say goodbye to the five outstanding recent interns we had the pleasure of hosting and working with this summer: Bethany Holden, Isaac Phillips, Jewel D’Cruz, Kennedy Scaggs and Marshall Karchunas.
Over the course of their internship, we asked them to share feedback on their perspectives on architecture, their time with MMA, and what they have learned.
“Mackey Mitchell has always been dedicated to engaging summer interns solely to benefit ambitious and curious students by exposing them to new experiences related to the practice of architecture. During the summers of 2020 and 2021, we made the difficult decision to not hire interns, due to concerns related to the pandemic. We just didn’t feel we were able to provide an engaging experience during a time when we were nearly all working from home. This summer, perhaps attempting to make up for the previous two years, we were fortunate to add five interns in our offices! This outstanding group of five exceeded our expectations with their abilities to contribute to our work by demonstrating their energy, enthusiasm, curiosity, and humble confidence. They are clearly poised for future leadership as designers and architects, which is wonderful news for the future of the profession.”
– Steve Emer, MMA President
What led you to the design and architecture field?
Marshall: I have always been a very creative person, and the idea of being able to rationalize my creative thoughts through the design process drew me into the field of architecture. In my experiences of going through the process of iterating design ideas, I’ve found excitement in the uniquely architectural aspect of holding yourself accountable to a set of tangible parameters that can produce an unexpected and uniquely collaborative outcome.
Isaac: The combination of a vast number of fields and knowledge all wrapped into one profession is what led me to the field of architecture. There seems to be an endless number of paths to explore.
Bethany: I have been interested in art since I was young and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t creating something. I knew I was called to do something in the design field when I got to high school and became serious about my work. Architecture was the perfect field in which I could bring all of my interests together (art, graphic design, history, science/math etc.) while making an impact on my community.
Kennedy: The idea and feeling of creating something that is not only tangible, but to have it impact the daily lives of the people who interact with it, is what led me to the field.
Jewel: Growing up, I was always interested in art and design, which later led to a creative skillset. When I was deciding what career path to take, I knew it had to be in the design field because I wanted to spend my life doing something I loved.
Who has been your biggest influence to date?
Marshall: Architecturally, my biggest influence has been the work of Morphosis. I am deeply inspired by the integration of formal innovation with inventive construction methods to create uniquely crafted spaces.
Isaac: Indirectly, as I was growing up, it was my dad, Clay Phillips. And now he still is a large influence but more directly as I go through school. Furthermore, I’ve had some influential professors like Kent Spreckelmeyer, Andrew Moddrell, and soon I’ll have a studio with Kapila Silva at KU.
Bethany: One of my professors has impacted the way I look at the field of architecture. I have had the privilege of being in a number of his lectures, as well as his studio classes, and have been inspired by his understanding of the field, both past and present. He has encouraged me to use my love of reading and knowledge in my projects, and I now find myself making connections and using what I have learned to influence my work and my architectural worldview.
Kennedy: I would say my biggest influence is not a person as much as it is nature and the world around us–it impacts everyone and everything. The way the natural world functions and presents itself inspires me, which is why I integrate nature into most, if not all, of the projects I have worked on in school.
Jewel: While there are many great artists and designers in the world, the biggest influences has been my grandmother who was the first creative person I knew. I learned a lot from her and she helped guide me in finding my style.
What have you most enjoyed in the field of architecture and design?
Marshall: Throughout my time studying architecture, I’ve always enjoyed the constant learning and research that takes place in the field. I’m excited by the prospect of being able to do a deep study on a specific topic related to a project and carrying that knowledge forward to subsequent projects.
Isaac: I’ve especially enjoyed the theory and history tied to architecture (my favorite architect I’ve learned about is Gaudi!) as well as learning new programs that aren’t a hassle.
Bethany: In my previous professional experience, I had the opportunity to meet with a few clients. I enjoyed watching the ideas they had develop and form into something architectural, functional and beautiful.
Kennedy: I’ve enjoyed the ability to change people’s perspectives by creating depth and feeling in a space, and designing with deep understanding and intentionality.
Jewel: I like learning new things and now as an interior design student, I have learned so much about new ways of designing. The best part for me is seeing things come together. After working on projects for weeks, the last week when everything clicks into place gives me great joy.
What is your dream project?
Marshall: My dream project would be uniquely crafted and considered multi-family housing. I am truly inspired by the efficiency both spatially and materially required for these spaces, and I am enthusiastic about the challenge of making these reproducible domestic spaces feel special.
Isaac: For me it is always changing. Recently I was thinking of a botanical garden. I’ve been interested in doing museums, high rise buildings, homes, and just about everything in between.
Bethany: I would love to build my own home someday. I love the old architecture of St. Louis row houses and would like to restore one.
Kennedy: My dream project would be a completely plant-based and eco-friendly cafe/restaurant. Ideally, this business would be completely self-sufficient within their products and their building function, net-zero in a sense, and have a very small environmental impact. Seeing the push for a business to have a low or zero carbon footprint and being more sustainable is appealing to me. I think it would be quite an interesting project to work on.
Jewel: I have always wanted to give back to the community and it would be great to design a living space for the homeless and people with limited means. Ideally, the project would not require them to worry about paying rent or expenses, as that could be handled through donors/sponsors and other financial contributions.
What was your favorite part of interning with MMA?
Isaac: Learning about the profession was my favorite part of interning for MMA. Everything from how construction documents are handled to the workflows of a professional office. I got to put in work on several different projects in different ways which helped show me many processes of work and how to do things.
Marshall: My favorite part was getting to learn about the tools of the industry and sharpen my skills. I had the opportunity to work on several projects where the team had me doing modeling and documentation for projects, which made me feel like a valuable part of the process and gave me helpful experience that I can use going forward with my career.
Bethany: I LOVED all the people at MMA, every single person there is invested in not only their jobs but each other as well. I felt so welcomed and supported by everyone.
Kennedy: My favorite part was the community and opportunities for exploration. Everyone was welcoming, caring, and encouraging and I was included on projects that helped push me to explore more.
Jewel: My favorite part was the variety of tasks and projects I was involved in. I was able to work on very different things that taught me different skills. I experienced a lot of new things, including travelling to a new state, site visits, and multiple opportunities to learn from different people doing different things in the industry.
What is something you learned during the internship that was unexpected?
Isaac: I got to learn valuable new programs that I hadn’t known existed like cove.tool and other SketchUp tricks that have helped me advance my modeling skills.
Marshall: It was unexpected how much I felt like I truly was part of the Mackey Mitchell team. I was so pleasantly surprised with how much responsibility and trust the firm placed in me. Whether it was going to and presenting at client facing meetings, participating in office events, or assisting in the design process, I truly felt like I was a part of the Mackey Mitchell family.
Bethany: The amount of collaboration was unexpected. In school, we are given a project that is all our own and we have control of every decision. My experience at MMA was quite different. Collaboration was constant and very helpful. It was a new way for me to work and definitely an experience I learned from and will take with me to future jobs.
Kennedy: Something I learned that I wasn’t expecting was to gain confidence within my ideas and designs. By having opportunities to learn new things with guidance along the way and after the fact, I was able to create and share my ideas in places that I hadn’t been presented with previously, which helped me develop a new sense of confidence.
Jewel: The most unexpected thing I gained from this internship was becoming more confident. I was pushed to contact and meet reps in the process of expanding the interiors library. Meeting and talking to new people pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me more comfortable in my own skin, talking and meeting new people.