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Northeastern University

Design dreams come true in Shanghai

February 10, 2011

Northeastern University senior Kyle Jonasen dreams of designing custom-built homes and showrooms.

His co-op job with Zero Lab Office, an architectural studio and design lab in Shanghai, China, helped prepared him for this future and inspired his career outlook: After he graduates in May, Jonasen plans to earn a master’s degree in architecture from Northeastern, find a job at an architecture firm in China or Korea, and then start a small studio with a team of young colleagues.

"Working at Zero Lab definitely clarified how I want to approach my education and my future," said Jonasen, an architecture major who grew up in Milwaukee. "The experience has been so much more valuable than anything I could possibly learn in a classroom and has taught me the power of practicing in your actual profession."

From August through December, he developed 3-D computer models and drew design diagrams for museums, furniture factories and schools. He and his team also pitched their ideas to city officials, developers and building owners. Each of their proposals was accepted, he said.

"Part of what we learn at Northeastern is how to create a very strong central idea for our designs as well as a very clear presentation," said Jonasen. "I think all of the clients in Shanghai understood our team’s idea a lot better than the other designs."

Jonasen, who described his experience in Northeastern’s architecture program as "very intense," noted his "competitive nature to always want to do the best work and have the best project." He’s proud to learn from teachers who practice their craft on a daily basis.

"Instead of learning from full-time studio instructors, we’re getting many different perspectives and theories from a heavy rotation of practicing architects throughout the city," he said.

Jonasen, who counts Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as one of his favorite architects for his simple, yet scrupulously detailed designs, completed his first co-op with Rim Architects, in Honolulu.

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