Q&A With Architecture Student Kimberly Huff
Where are you from and why did you decide to attend OU?
I am from Edmond, Oklahoma; OU seemed like a natural progression for me, because it allowed me to learn on my own, but still be in a familiar environment. I also grew up going to Sooner football games with my dad and sister, both of whom are OU alumni.
What led you to pursue a degree in architecture?
In high school, I took an art history class where I learned about the progression of art and architecture over time. From that class, I was inspired by art and architecture and how they are abstractions of the cultures, people, times, and places in which they are created. I chose to study architecture because I want to harness that same power of abstraction to create thoughtful experiences within built spaces.
What kinds of opportunities have you received through your program?
The Cristopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture study abroad program in Rome was a wonderful opportunity. Three other students and I lived in the city center for an entire semester. We traveled to some of the most influential buildings in architectural history—buildings which most people only get to read about, like Pompeii and the Roman Forum. It was amazing to become part of Roman culture and create friendships with people along the way. My experience in Rome was priceless.
What sets OU’s program apart from other schools?
Thefourth-year internship semester is a really unique opportunity at the college. This program allows students to work full time while gaining experience that counts toward licensure. Dipping my toes into the profession, while still a student, I got to see the real-world implications of my design work. It also offered a nice break in between normal school semesters and allowed me to reflect on what I want out of the profession once I graduate.
Can you tell us what it means to attend the American School of Architecture?
The American School of Architecture, founded by Bruce Goff, was radical in its time; it was a school of thought that promoted an individual’s creativity, resourcefulness, and experimentation. The American School emphasized contextuality and architectural dialogue with the environment. Several of the design studio classes that I have taken at OU highlight how these ideas are present in the curriculum to this day.
Most of the projects I have been assigned are in the Oklahoma City and Norman areas, which allows us to go out and learn from the site and the people who influence it. In studio this year, we spent an entire month researching the site and talking with stakeholders in order to create a dialogue between its history and social context. Each student got the freedom to experiment and explore which type of building would be most appropriate for the site; this trust in us to develop the program is not common at every school.
The spirit of individual exploration, experimentation and creating has remained at OU since the American School, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
What aspects of the curriculum or from your experience in the program do you believe are going to be the most valuable in your career?
I think that the exploratory spirit and iterative processes of designing encouraged at Gibbs College, which allow us to search for novel solutions to pressing issues, will be most valuable. It requires that we constantly rethink a given problem, generate different solutions rapidly, and be able to represent the idea clearly to an outside audience. As a professional, these problem-solving and communication skill sets are invaluable.
Do you have any plans or goals for after graduation?
I plan on getting licensed after I graduate! Overall, I am excited to get to work on projects that get built in the real world!