Behind the Building: Clueless profile on Architecture student Erik Larson

Erik Larson working on his project in Lawrence Hall late one night.

Erik Larson working on his project in Lawrence Hall late one night.

Inside the maze of Lawrence Hall, the home of the architecture school at the University of Oregon, aspiring architect Erik Larson sits in a stool, at his desk, simply ready to create building.

The Eugene native is a sophomore and in his second year in the 14th best architecture program nationally.

Although he’s still learning, Larson has the ability to draw and graphically design floor plans, as well as build three-dimensional models of his visions for buildings.

In fact, for Larson’s midterm, he had to combine all three elements for his project.

“The first three things is that we have the project explained to us, then we are given the requirements for each room, and lastly we have to come with a design idea,” Larson said.

But, after the assignment is explained, the fun part really starts for Larson because he is able to have complete creative freedom and construct a vision for his building.

For this particular assignment, Larson had to present his idea of a new culinary institute that would be in Portland. The culinary institute had areas for classrooms and kitchens. The institute also has study lounges, offices, and even a restaurant. These were all elements Larson needed to think about when designing for his project.

“First thing we do is a bunch of drawings,” said Larson We start in plan formation, which is floor plans, where everything is drawn out.”

In order to draw the floor plans, Larson has a drafting board, cutting mat, rulers, t- squares and scales, which are all vital in making sure the sizes are accurate and realistic.

Once drawings are complete, professors or graduate students critique the work. From there, Larson then must look at the building in terms of sections, which is looking at the side view, and seeing how the rooms relate to one another from floor to floor.

After everything is drawn out precisely, Larson must move to the computer and graphically lay out his designs. He uses an intensive computer program called Revit.

“Revit is really cool,” said Larson. “It allows you to create a digital model, it’s like playing the Sims.”

With Revit, once anything is implemented in the design, it can be viewed in a section or aerial view.

“With this program I can truly get a feeling of how the building will look on the work site.”

Lastly, Larson must make a three-dimensional view to get a better understanding of what his building will truly resemble. With a vital tool, known as a laser cutter, Larson is able to take his dimensions from his design on the Revit program and have them mechanically cut for him to use in his model, which is made out of cardboard-like material.

“It’s super helpful to use the laser cuter, but it’s often hard to get time with it since it is in such high demand by so many students,” Larson said.

Although this is only his second year, Larson’s work as an architecture student resembles his intelligence as well as passion for architecture.

However, he sometimes finds there are also negative sides to his studies. Larson has class three times a week for four hours a day. Outside of class he spends countless hours in the studio, as well as holding a job and taking other classes for general requirements.

There is also a surprising element of danger in the studio. Right next to Larson’s desk is a trashcan for biomedical waste. This is needed because students will often cut themselves while building models.

“I had a friend last week have to go to the hospital and get stitches,” Larson said.

There is literally countless blood, sweat, and tears in the studio, all for the hope of landing a dream job in the architecture field. All the work Larson produces he will be able to put in a portfolio as he applies for internships and jobs.

Although Larson has retained immense knowledge about the architecture field through his studies, he humbly admits that he is just getting started.

“If this was the real world, I still have a lot to learn.”

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