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Architecture Student's Involvement led to BIG Opportunity

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Architecture student, Patrick Witthaus, had the opportunity last Wednesday to host lecture series guest speaker, Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Partner at Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG Architects). 

Patrick is a fourth year student in the 5-Year MARCH program. He is from St. Louis and fell in love with the University of Kansas because of its energy and excitement. So far in his college career, Patrick has served as an architecture ambassador, president of the KU AIAS chapter, student advisory board member and participated in the Germany-Austria study abroad program.  These experiences have helped Patrick to network, learn from professionals in the industry and build valuable relationships.

This past summer Patrick interned in Seattle at Degen and Degen, an architecture firm specializing in hospitality. "I think my educational experience at KU really helped me to land a job out of the blue in Seattle," Patrick said. "The robotics course offered here added a unique element to my portfolio. I believe it was the cutting-edge, futuristic projects from that class that allowed me to get that internship."

Patrick's study abroad experience really helped develop his architecture portfolio. The six-week program in the heart of Europe gave him the opportunity to study the German language and develop professional skills at the University of Stuttgart. "Visiting Stuttgard gave me the opportunity to bring back some new ideas," Patrick shared. One of those ideas was the department's first student work publication. "I talked with the Chair and said, 'Look! Stuttgart has this and it's awesome. We should do this!' and she said, 'Go for it!'" he relayed. Following that conversation, Patrick and five other students started work on a 130-page book of student work that he hopes will be a tradition that is continued this year. 

Another experience that has defined Patrick's career in the Architecture Department was his role as AIAS President. "As President and member of AIAS, I have really been able to understand the profession as a whole," he said. Membership provided opportunities to travel and network as well as additional professional training.

Patrick's active involvement in the Architecture Department resulted in the Department Chair, Paola Sanguinetti, asking him to host Kai-Uwe last week. Patrick picked Kai up from the airport, brought him to campus where Keith Van de Riet's 608 Studio were waiting to present their work for feedback. After Bergmann's lecture, Patrick showed off the Department by taking Kai on a tour of Marvin Hall, East Hills and stopped by Studio 804's worksite, before driving Kai to Kansas City for an engagement with AIA Kansas City.

The experiences, roles and opportunities Witthuas has enjoyed have helped him grow as a young professional and opened doors that can benefit him in his career after college. Last year, Pierre Engel, the structural engineer for London's Olympic Tower, visited the Department and Patrick was asked to host him as well. "I got to visit with Pierre about his work in Paris and I really learned a lot. Pierre also told me that met the Queen of England - so basically, I'm only two degrees of separation from her now!" Patrick said with a smile.