Early career stories: Jacob, Part 1 Architectural Assistant

Jacob Shaw joined LHC as a Part 1 Architectural Assistant based in our Plymouth studio from Sept 2020 to Sept 2021. We were keen to get his view on working at the practice so we can continue to improve, and because we hope it might be useful for any student to read who is about to start applying for their Part 1 year.  

Thinking back on my Part 1 architectural experience this year, I have been fortunate enough to experience the professional environment under constant change.  Working at LHC Design has been valuable in resourcing knowledge from a range of professions interrelating with architecture; landscape architects, interior and graphic designers.  I have had the opportunity to be actively involved with amazing and creative professionals on projects at different scales that vary across the RIBA work stages.

When I first joined the team after completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Plymouth, I was very intrigued about transitioning into the office environment during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Entering the office for the first time I was approached by a mostly empty office, despite meeting everyone over a warm-welcoming teams meeting. However, despite the lack of initial in-person interaction, I gradually met everyone in the practice and quickly found my feet, learning software, practice etiquette and the intricacies of running projects.

Over time the practice introduced Agile Working and the transition of people returning to the office arrived towards the end of my year experience. Witnessing the adaptability of LHC Design made me hopeful for life after the pandemic and revealed how the profession will operate differently.

As a Part 1, I initially felt nervous about engaging with conversations in the studio, which oddly became harder when transferring to the work-from-office operation. I never experienced the studio pre-pandemic, so I had no point of reference on what to expect in the professional environment. Not being around members of the team did prove difficult as I was not having flowing conversations between work, which I did go onto experience. As I spent more time with the team my relationships grew and I felt part of the team, even if it was for the last couple months of my experience.

I was pleasantly surprised with how dedicated LHC Design was to ensuring members of the team could stay connected and involved in the numerous projects. I was exposed to and entrusted with several stages of the design process on various projects, ranging from curating initial project briefs and design research to technical drawing and collating information to handover projects. Surprisingly an element I designed for a project has been built during my time in the practice, which is only small, but is a first on my architectural journey.

Overall, my Part 1 work experience taught me resilience within the industry, as well as various approaches to working. One of my key achievements has been my ability to put forward elements into professional conversations that have gone onto producing a BREEAM document, innovative floor plans to maximise benefits of a residential scheme and the construction of a balustrade planter for an office conversion.

I will forever be grateful to everyone at LHC Design for guiding me on this part of my journey and taking the time to provide their creative insight, and continued support as I go on to study for my Part 2 at the University of Plymouth.