Architecture and Preservation Majors Take on Real World Projects 

Cummings School of Architecture students presented their summer projects in the inaugural internship showcase on Sept. 15. 

By Grace Boland
Ten students gathered together smiling after their architecture internship presentations.
From left to right, top row: Benjamin Bariso, Zack Laplant, Meghan Smith, Katelyn Jennings, Ariana Chandarpal, Charles McGowan, and Cole Russell. From left to right, bottom row: Jillian Leary, Sarah Meronek, and Ivy Hammett-Aron.

BRISTOL R.I. – From experimental designing to strategic consulting, three graduate and seven undergraduate students presented the projects they had developed during summer internships to their employers and other industry professionals at the Cummings School of Architecture’s inaugural Architecture Internship Showcase on Sept. 15.

The showcase provided a platform for emerging architects and preservation professionals to highlight their innovative work and the valuable skills they acquired during their summer internships. With a spotlight on three of the projects, hear about how students dove into the industry as they tackled real-world assignments.

Designing local high schools

Three RWU interns with Charles Boos, the principal founder of the firm Kaestle Boos Associates.
From left to right: Ariana Chandarpal, Cole Russell, and Jillian Leary with Charles Boos, the principal founder of the firm Kaestle Boos Associates.

Sophomore Jillian Leary, senior Cole Russell, and junior Ariana Chandarpal interned with Kaestle Boos Associates, Inc., a multi-disciplined architecture firm focused on municipal facility design. During the spring semester, Kate Jessup, a Project Architect and Educational Planner at Kaestle Boos, volunteered at the Cummings School of Architecture’s annual portfolio workshop, where she met the students and offered them the opportunity to intern for Kaestle Boos and gain hands-on experience in designing, consulting, and presenting this past summer. 

Based out of Kaestle Boos’ office in Foxboro, Mass., Leary, alongside her supervisor, helped design the new dental and electrical workshops for Diman Vocational Regional Technical High School in Fall River, Mass. – an experience that she said helped grow her professional skills.

“I gained confidence in being able to talk in front of people. Having to present to practicing architects made me a better public speaker,” said Leary, an Architecture major from Dartmouth, Mass.  

Russell and Chandarpal, who interned with the Hartford, Conn., office, both had the opportunity to work on a new addition that will be added to Norwalk High School in Norwalk, Conn. Chandarpal went through the written plans to find improvements and ensured that ADA compliances are met throughout, while Russell helped design some of the interior parts of the project, including locker layouts and locker accessibility designs.   ­­­

 “This wasn’t a sector that I was interested in at first,” said Russell, an Architecture major with minors in Art and Architectural History from Brooklyn, Conn. “I thought I wanted to do residential work. This experience really helped me broaden my scope of work and understand all the different areas that architects are involved in.”  

 For Chandarpal, this hands-on experience helped her realize her goal of doing impactful work. “Going into this schooling sector and making schools that will teach generations of kids is the kind of work I want to pursue,” said the Architecture major with a core concentration in Drawing and Print Making, from Meriden, Conn. 

At the conclusion of the showcase, Charles W. Boos, the founding principal of the firm, presented the three students with a bonus check for their hard work. 

Researching 175 years of The Hope Club building

Senior Charles McGowan presenting his internship project.
Senior Charles McGowan presented his internship project at the Architecture Internship Showcase.

Charles McGowan, a senior majoring in Preservation Studies and minoring in both History and Architectural History, interned with The Hope Club in Providence, the oldest social club in Rhode Island. McGowan, of North Kingstown, R.I., said he discovered this internship through a professor who recommended him for the job.  

 The goal of his project was to research the history of the Hope Club building and visit historical societies in Rhode Island to see what he could find about the original documents for the specifications of the building. McGowan said he found the original handwritten documents, translated them into electronic form, and created AutoCAD drawings of the club through its various stages of progression over the last 175 years. He then presented his findings to the board members of The Hope Club. 

"I needed to create a project that would be understood by the members of the club: easily accessible, easy to read, easy to understand. I learned how to communicate ideas to a target audience wider than just industry experts,” he said. 

McGowan said The Hope Club members asked if he would return to do more research that would eventually help get the club added to the National Register of Historic Places. He responded that he would be thrilled to continue to do research while pursuing his M.S. in Preservation Practices at RWU next year.  

“I was originally thinking of going somewhere else for grad school, but this project really set my mind to here because I realized that there are so many opportunities in the Rhode Island area,” McGowan said. “Roger Williams is strategically based for me. The Architecture school is very respected around Rhode Island.”