Earlier this year, Montana State University architecture student Ethan Brown joined the Hennebery Eddy | Comma-Q Studio in Bozeman as a summer intern. Ethan continued his internship through the fall as he completed his Masters of Architecture degree. In addition to earning his degree in December, Ethan was awarded with the Tau Sigma Delta Bronze Medal, the Dan Man award, and a first-place studio project. We’re pleased to share that Ethan will join the Bozeman team full time in 2022 as design staff. Here, Ethan shares his summer internship experience.
As a graduate student at Montana State University, my design aspirations have evolved throughout my time in school. When I began looking for a summer internship, my first goal was to find a firm that aligns with my own personal design philosophy. Comma-Q Studio has a reputation around town of designing beautiful, context-responsive buildings. Whether you are walking around downtown or through the Cannery District, the work done by Comma-Q has positively impacted the community of Bozeman. I had also been familiar with Hennebery Eddy as I had used Fire Station 76 and the Hillsboro Shute Park Library as precedents in undergrad. When I heard that the two firms had merged, Hennebery Eddy | Comma-Q Studio offered the resources and knowledge of a large firm while operating out of an intimate Bozeman studio. I was thrilled to start my intern position and learn how the firm designs with the core principles of community and sustainability.
As a student, I want to understand how the world of academia differs from the professional field. Although there are differences, the design process is universal in its application and is demonstrated daily at Hennebery Eddy. In school, the design process is typically individually focused, but in an office, complex design challenges are solved with teamwork. Through iterative creation, coordination with consultants, and problem-solving with the owner, a project evolves from an idea into an intellectual piece of work that surpasses what a single person could achieve on their own. Moreover, my coworkers exhibit such diligent, detail-oriented thinking and decision-making, which creates a compelling working environment. I’ve seen firsthand how an office benefits from a collaborative atmosphere to actualize an idea.
The major difference between academia and the professional field is working with a real budget instead of a hypothetical prompt. Although challenging, this aspect of the professional field adds an extra level of problem-solving to the project. Nevertheless, all the constraints that make design difficult ultimately make the solutions more rewarding. The Comma-Q Studio has been a great environment to apply the conceptual applications that I have learned in school and utilize them in a more pragmatic way.
Over the summer, I have been lucky enough to work on a number of different projects. My first week, I was sent out to Yellowstone National Park with a design team to take field measurements of 17 different buildings at Fort Yellowstone. After the site visit, the team and I put together an existing conditions package to use for a conditions assessment report. This was my first time working on a preservation project, and it was immensely informative. Next, I worked on schematic design for a university library renovation. During this time, I attended my first OAC meeting, collaborated with consultants, and helped design various layouts. Additionally, I have been able to work on a few other projects across Montana where I have helped to create feasibility studies and renderings for marketing purposes.
I have witnessed, through observing my coworkers communicate with clients, how the value of community drives design. My impression of the studio’s goal is to design in a way that pleases the client while simultaneously uplifting Bozeman as a whole. Projects such as the Community Food Co-op and the Cannery District are successful because they enliven the town aesthetically and functionally; but more importantly, they respect the community’s context, which preserves the identity of Bozeman. The constant desire to support the community through design is a value that I will carry throughout my career. Working in this studio, I have felt like a valued member of the design team as well as another voice for the community. It has become clear to me that for the Comma-Q Studio, the accomplishments boil down to watching Bozeman thrive.