Andrew Petersen is a LEED Green Associate. He is currently a Masters of Architecture student at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, where he also received his undergraduate Bachelors of Science of Architecture with Summa Cum Laude.
Archslate: Tell us a little bit about your background and what made you choose Architecture
Andrew: I was exposed to architecture at a very young age. My father is a practicing Architect in New Jersey where he is the principal of his own residential firm. Growing up I was always around it and intrigued by it, both the design and business aspects of it as well as the social responsibility that the job entails. I was very fortunate to have been able to grow up and spend so much time at my father’s office and in the field with him at job sites. It was through those experiences that I developed my passion for architecture and the desire to become an Architect myself.
Archslate: What are some of your biggest achievements?
- 1st Place 2020 Student Award of Honor from the CT Green Building Council
1st prize awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council, Connecticut Chapter, for achieving highly sustainable design in an academic project. Awarded to a Skyscraper I designed in Downtown Hartford, CT for a senior level studio course
- 2nd Place 2019 Student Award of Merit from the CT Green Building Council
2nd prize awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council, Connecticut Chapter, for achieving highly sustainable design in an academic project. Awarded to an Archeological Research Lab I designed in Pompeii, Naples for a junior level studio.
- 1st Place 2020 Bus Stop Design Competition for the University of Hartford
1st prize awarded by the University of Hartford for designing a new bus stop located on the campus of the college.
- 2019 Outstanding Achievement in Architecture Studies from the Florence International Studies Institute
Awarded by the Florence International Studies Institute for demonstrating exemplary performance in your design studio class. This was during the Spring 2019 semester where I studied abroad in Florence, Italy at Florence ISI.
Archslate: What types of projects do you see yourself working on?
Andrew: Mostly real projects: residential and commercial, I do not have a particular preference. I enjoy the challenges that come along with different project types and constantly learning new things about each one. BCJ Architects is a firm that I would say engages in the type of projects that I want to work on.
Archslate: How do you describe your design style as an architect?
Andrew: I am a very pragmatic designer. That's not to say that I do not enjoy unpractical design because I believe that it can provide us with important questions and ideas that we can then make into something practical, but my approach to design is most certainly a realistic approach. When I work on projects it is my belief that function beats form, but then it is my job to make sure that the function has a meaningful and important form along with it.
Archslate: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Andrew: I see myself as a Licensed Architect, with a LEED BD+C. I hope to be working at a firm that I am happy with and that I can continue to further my architectural expertise in.
Archslate: Which is your most favorite project in your portfolio and why?
Andrew: At the University of Hartford we tend to work on projects with a site that we can visit, so typically most projects I have worked on are located in Connecticut. However, my Spring 2019 semester I had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy where I got to work on some very interesting projects. In particular, I worked on an Archeological Research Lab for the Ruins of Pompeii in Naples, Italy. Everything about this project I enjoyed, from touring the site to the design process and post-production.
Archslate: When searching for internships or jobs, what are you looking for?
Andrew: I am looking for jobs that actively engage in sustainability and thoughtful architectural design. I want to work at a place that cares about the profession just as much as I do, not just a job where they view being an Architect as merely an occupation for money. I also look for quality of work, I hope to not only work at a firm that cares about their work, but produces above average work. I am a very competitive person and I like to use that to my advantage, that is when I produce my best work. Being at a firm that can constantly keep me in that state of mind is what I am searching for.
Archslate: What are some of the hurdles that you’ve always faced for securing the right job for you?
Andrew: I feel that a lot of well known professional firms look for a particular portfolio type for students just graduating with their masters, a very artistic and conceptual styled one. Mine is a more practical type and I worry that it might not catch the eye of some professionals. Being considered an intern after I graduate with a Masters of Architecture and having years of experience in the professional realm, as an intern. I know what an intern position entails, most of us have been interns before, and I know that I am a lot more qualified to be just an intern out of graduate school. I am not looking for an internship, I am looking for a real job with more responsibility.
Despite the overwhelming evidence with climate change, there are still many firms that do not consider sustainable design or do not do enough to consider it. It is important to me that I work at a job that cares about the environment. It's one thing to turn it down for cost/job related issues but it's another thing to not care about, architects should care about it. The University of Hartford, the school which I attend, is a lesser known college for architecture and does not have a big name reputation for architecture. I worry that some professionals may look at that as a negative and not even consider looking at some of my work or any work that comes from the school.
Archslate:Which firms do you admire the most that make it to your list of ‘Dream job’
Andrew: There are many firms that I would say I admire/inspire me the most: BCJ Architects, Pickard Chilton, 3XN Architects, and my fathers firm Tom Petersen Architect, LLC. All of these firms are very passionate about the profession and it certainly reflects in all of their work.
Out of the 4, working for BCJ Architects is what I consider a “Dream Job.”
The work that comes out of that office is absolutely magnificent in my opinion. Their designs are always carefully planned out and always well informed. All of their buildings sit perfectly on their sites as if they belong there. And they go above and beyond with environmental considerations. I often use their work in my precedents and even wrote a paper about their Frick Environmental Center (which is my favorite building) for a sustainability course.