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.