Emma Koch

"When distributing CVs, go to the office to hand them in. This is a great way to get an instant feel of the practices"

CompanyLevitt BernsteinLocationManchesterSizeLargeCourse BA Architecture and LandscapePositionPart 1 Architectural Assistant

About Levitt Bernstein

Levitt Bernstein is a large multidisciplinary practice of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture. The practice is split into studios, all of which have a theme in terms of type of work. I am working at the Manchester office where the majority of work undertaken is in the education sector. However, we have a variety of project types including residential, specialist housing for the elderly and regeneration work. The workplace environment for both offices are open plan and welcoming, with a friendly and calm yet hard working atmosphere.

What are the best things about working in this type of practice?

Benefits of working for a large practice include the diversity in project type and scales, support from IT including revit training, efficiency with support from admin and project assistants as well as the huge volume of resources available on our server. Located in the satellite office, I feel I also gain further benefits usually found in smaller practices, as there are only 13 people. I have been able to get to know everyone well and their individual approaches to architecture, which also means I have been able to help nearly everyone and gain experience in a variety of projects.

What type and stage of projects have you been working on and what are your main roles and responsibilities?

I joined the Manchester office soon after it had quickly expanded, therefore the majority of projects in the office are at early work stages. I have assisted with early stage work including competition entries, preparation for interviews, Design and Access statements and planning reports. As an architectural assitant, my other key tasks include admin roles, model making and offering project assistance where possible. I have also recently been working on an Urban Design regeneration masterplan project which has also given me the great opportunity to be involved with public consultations.

What knowledge, skills or values developed at the SSoA have you brought into practice?

The social approach to Architecture taught at the SSoA is very relevant to the ‘people and design’ approach of Levitt Bernstein. My university studio design projects prepared me very well for assisting with Design and Access statements which also explore the initial project ideas, site analysis, design progression, exploration of ideas and clarity in presentation.

Is practice what you expected? Describe any surprises or challenges that you’ve encountered.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when working in practice compared to architecture at university, although I knew it was going to be very different. Initially I found it challenging to adapt to being the one to ask questions again, as I felt out of depth with programs at times. However, I soon realised that was the quickest and best way to learn! Practice met my expectation of increased reliance on CAD software with reduced hand drawing. Nevertheless, it’s comforting to see plenty of hand drawing happening, especially at early stages of the projects.

What knowledge, skills or values have you acquired or developed during your time in practice?

I developed endless knowledge about the reality of an architecture practice, especially in terms of the timescale, funding, organisation and running of a project. I also understand the collaborative approach to design with external professionals. I think over my time in practice so far I have grown in confidence and efficiency.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Variability in a day’s / week’s work – as a Part 1, it is great to be able to hop in and out of a range of projects and task. I feel fortunate to work with a great team and given the chance to help improve people’s livelihoods through design.

Where do you see yourself in future?

After completing my Masters, I hope to continue to work for a practice with a similar, people-focused approach to architecture that I have enjoyed at SSoA and Levitt Bernstein. I plan to explore humanitarian architecture projects in my future education and career.

What top tips would you offer architecture students who are about to begin a Year in Practice placement?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you see something that looks interesting and you want to get involved!