Inside Hoerr Schaudt: Daniel Widis
2016 holds many new adventures for Hoerr Schaudt. We are excited to open a window into the studio and share our ideas and design culture with the world, including a new blog series called “Inside Hoerr Schaudt,” highlighting the outstanding talent at our firm.
Each year, Hoerr Schaudt hosts a student from the Harvard Graduate School of Design who joins us for an externship – or “mini-internship” – for the month of January to gain hands-on firm experience. As his externship comes to a close, this year’s extern, Daniel Widis, has agreed to give you a behind-the-scenes look at his experience at Hoerr Schaudt:
W H Y H O E R R S C H A U D T ?
After spending my past two summers interning at a single firm, I did not have enormous exposure to the different types of professional practice. While talking to classmates or exchanging emails with current employees is helpful to understand the general feel of a firm, the only way to gain a truly honest sense of the workplace and design culture is to spend a few weeks working at an office.
My first exposure to Hoerr Schaudt came when I visited the Nathan Phillips Square roof garden in Toronto. From my time in school, I knew the firm had a reputation for robust, beautiful planting and garden design. The scope of Hoerr Schaudt’s work, primarily residential and small to mid-sized commercial work, as well as their commitment to high-quality built work was particularly attractive. On a much more practical level, my fiancée is from Chicago and has been itching to return. Having the opportunity to live in Chicago and work at one of the city’s premier landscape architect firms for a few weeks was a perfect opportunity.
G R E A T E S T T A K E A W A Y
Coming from a studio environment where schematic design is the most important – if not the only – design phase that matters in a given semester, it takes some time to realize that schematic is just one part of what can be a multi-year process.
During my time at Hoerr Schaudt, I worked on redline edits for a design development set, researched ways to rejuvenate overgrown lilacs, and calculated plant quantities for a planting schedule. The breadth of work – and the variety of tasks associated with each phase of a project’s life – is something that school does not adequately prepare you for. A project does not end with a set of beautiful renderings and a schematic pitch; getting the project built requires a completely different set of skills.
E X P E C T A T I O N S VS. R E A L I T Y
Chicago was certainly as cold as I thought it would be! Something that surprised me after spending a few weeks at Hoerr Schaudt was the rigor and iteration that goes into their planting design and massing studies. Every staff member I spoke with was incredibly knowledgeable about planting form, shape, and seasonal color, and the ways that specific planting could be successfully applied to achieve certain programmatic or design intentions. Throughout the office, the design process is extremely iterative, with planting design not beholden to predetermined grading, circulation, and programmatic decisions.