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Coop Profile: Lama Bitar

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Name: Lama Bitar
Class Year: 2014
Hometown: Acton, MA

1.) Where are you working and what type of firm is it?

I recently completed my second co-op at Fennick McCredie Architecture in Boston, MA. Fennick McCredie is a small firm of twenty people specializing in transportation architecture. Their current work includes the Salem Intermodal Station in Salem, MA; the Bangor Airport Renovation in Bangor, ME; and four new Green Line stations in Somerville, MA that constitute part of the Green Line extension project. Their built work includes the Jet Blue Terminal C renovations at Logan Airport, master planning of Logan’s 49-acre transportation center, and the design of their new rental car facility (ConRAC).

2.) Where is the firm located and what is it like to be working in that location?

FMA SUMMER OUTING-126
(l-r) Eric Pereira, Blake Coren, Deborah Fennick (Principal), David Potter and Lama Bitar, all NU student employees

The firm is located in downtown Boston, in the city’s Financial District and is just a short ride away from one of their biggest clients, Massachusetts Port Authority. Proximity to clients is important to any architecture firm, and being in the center of the city’s urban fabric allows the city’s mix of historic and contemporary architecture to be an integral part of the day-to-day experience. It was also great to be located near other co-op employers, and meet up with fellow classmates to talk about our varying experiences.

3.) How did you experience in the studio prepare for your co-op experience?

Studio teaches you to be diligent in your work, efficient with your time, and clear in your presentation and representation. These traits are important in an office setting, where you are operating on a schedule and need to have drawings completed in time for client meetings. Clarity in the representation and presentation of ideas is especially important in communicating ideas to clients, who are not architects and often do not understand architectural conventions. In the way a studio project can evolve in response to critiques received by a professor or outside critic, a project in an office will change in response to new needs requested by a client.

4.) What has been your favorite project that you have participated in on co-op?

At Fennick McCredie, I had the benefit of working on one project – interior renovations to Massport’s Logan Office Center – from its initial schematic design through to its final bidset submission. As my interest lies in sustainable design and construction, one of my goals during co-op was to understand the comprehensive steps necessary to push a design through to completion. Tasks first included measuring and documenting the existing conditions for our scope of work. Then we implemented and adjusted our ideas to meet our client’s changing needs.

I was fortunate to be able to attend many client meetings, and to complete the project in Revit – a software tool I was previously unfamiliar with that has increasing importance in the architecture industry. By the end of the project, I felt I gained a thorough understanding of building components, design strategies, client interaction, interdisciplinary work, and the scope of work associated with construction documents. It’s exciting to think that my work during co-op will, when built, be utilized by hundreds of people on a daily basis. I also participated in the ReGen Boston competition while on co-op, along with a team of seven co-workers. The experience allowed me to form connections with my co-workers beyond the  work day, and allowed me to be a member of a larger design team and to contribute equally to the ideas and representation of our project. We tied for third!

 

5.) How do you think your co-op experience will influence you back in the studio?

Unlike a studio project where your work remains an idea, co-op provides the opportunity for your work to be realized. It’s a reminder of architecture’s cultural and environmental importance, and its responsibility to be responsive and potentially remediative of its environment.