I began at TriMet as an administrative assistant to the Director of the Airport MAX Light Rail Project. Upon completion of this project, I was offered an assistantship in the Public Art Department under the supervision of Mary Priester, TriMet Public Art Manager. It is in this position that I began working closely with the staff architects and engineers which inspired me to turn a job into a career. Here, I developed an appetite for design, fabrication, and construction. As a result, my former boss and mentor encouraged me to attend SCI Arc’s summer program, Making + Meaning (for which TriMet provided me the tuition).
In June of 2007, I accepted a summer position as a designer at Studio Mumbai in Mumbai, India. Four days after my arrival, I was sent to Northeastern India to supervise the completion of a five building mountain top resort. The buildings were constructed using local, dry stack stone masonry methods. As the project manager, I was forced to make do with the local resources. I hired local porters, stone masons, and carpenters to complete this eco-tourist resort. Constant collaboration and creativity ensured the project maintained its strict schedule.
Throughout my graduate studies and after, I have made it a point to create using my hands. This included maintaining my work study position in the SCI Arc shop as well as acquiring various freelance opportunities. Most often, these projects included working with various varieties of wood and metal. Some of my collaborations have included work with notable artists such as James Turrell and Hirokazu Kosaka. Additionally, I recently completed a 22 foot elliptical table that will be the centerpiece for the upcoming season of Top Chef, Seattle.
In my first position upon completion of my graduate studies, I worked as a designer for The Jerde Partnership. I spent nearly six months in the model shop under the supervision of Ayako Mizushiro. It is here that I became more familiar with the a design process pertaining to master planning under the supervision of various senior architects. It was in this position that I was able to see a range of methods and thinking surrounding an architectural design process at Jerde. I was excited to move “upstairs” and further my career as a designer working alongside some of the very special groups found throughout the office. However, as we all know, the global economy suffered, our office fell on some difficult times, and I was asked to adapt to a position which involved contributing to both the design department as well as provide design and fabrication assistance to the Facilities Department within JJ Seabreeze. It is in this position that we determined ways in which we could improve the overall income of the office by remodeling particular aspects of the building in order to attract high end commercial renters as the company battled to adapt to the changing economic climate.
In addition to my work at the Jerde Partnership, I partnered with a colleague from graduate school, Robert LaPorta, to develop a scheme to improve the overall quality of Santa Monica’s Growing Place preschool and pre-kindergarten play area and gathering space. We developed a series of low cost interventions to be installed in multiple phases. We were charged with developing the concept and finding ways to implement as many of the elements as possible, despite a somewhat limited budget. We recently completed the interior courtyard fence using donated 3form panels and custom fabricated steel railings as well as an interactive kinetic screening device.
Immediately after being laid off from The Jerde Partnership, I worked for Jon and Janice Jerde at their homes in Brentwood and at The Stone House in Mandeville Canyon performing various carpentry and fabrication jobs. In addition, I have added a beautiful baby girl to the mix of our family. I was fortunate to be able to be home during her first year as a result of my employment situation, as there were some serious complications with our pregnancy and birth. All has been resolved now and I wouldn’t trade my time with Varona for anything.
Since my return to Los Angeles, I have been working at SCI Arc as a CNC/3d Print/Shop technician and instructor. In this capacity, I am constantly helping guide students with their design and fabrication issues from the very small scale to large, full scale installations. We are in charge of 2 4 ft. x 8 ft. CNC tables, 2 laser cutters, a laser Plasma cutter, a Vacuum Former, 3 ZCorp starch 3d printers, and 2 ABS 3d printers. Additionally, we maintain a full service wood shop and metal shop.
In addition to my work at SCI Arc, I have teamed up with three colleagues from graduate school to create various graphic design packages including some branding and marketing for a developer in Los Feliz. We have collaborated on a design process to transform a warehouse for the BeCore Promotions company that is responsible for events such as the X-Games. We have collaborated on a trade show both for a high tech company, Oblong, and helped master plan new office space for their expanding company.
I am constantly trying to improve my fabrication and machining techniques to push the boundaries from both a design and fabrication point of view. I find that the automation process is never fully automatic, but still requires a skilled hand and a competent technician in order to achieve highly valued results.
Southern California Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles, CA, Shop / CNC / 3d Printing Fabrication Specialist
CNC / 3D Print Technician / Woodshop and Metal Shop Instructor and Shop Technician. with their design and fabrication issues from the very small scale to large, full scale installations. We are in charge of 2 4 ft. x 8 ft. CNC tables, 2 laser cutters, a laser Plasma cutter, a Vacuum Former, 3 ZCorp starch 3d printers, and 3 Uprint, ABS 3d printers. Additionally, we maintain a full service wood shop and metal shop.
The Jerde Partnership, Venice, CA, US, Designer
Under supervision of Ayako Mizushiro, I facilitated construction of various models using various technologies including laser cutter, 3d printer, and other machine tools in the Model Shop. Each project required the knowledge and manipulation of original drawings in order for them to be translated into a built form for study and presentation. It was in this capacity that I was exposed to the various projects within the Jerde Partnership and given the opportunity to work with a variety of senior designers. The model shop was not just a production facility; it was also a place of fast pace design changes where all individuals taking part were encouraged to provide input. In addition to model building, I worked with various designers to develop and illustrate drawings throughout the conceptual and schematic phases of the design process. I created layouts and final drawings for large format presentation boards and booklets. Much energy was spent perfecting both architectural drawings as well as the graphic quality of these booklets.
Studio Mumbai, Mumbai, IN, Designer
I coordinated the design and construction of an eco-tourism mountain retreat in Leiti, India. This included site supervision during the final phase of construction. Each of the five buildings were designed using local, dry stack stone masonry building techniques. Once arriving on site, I hired local stone masons and laborers to facilitate the final phase of construction. This required extensive sketching and drawing of details at a moment’s notice in order to communicate specific details. I developed a schedule and punch list of action items required to complete the project on time. Upon completion of the mountain retreat, I returned to the offices in Mumbai to manage the construction documents and field supervision of a 2,500 square foot vacation home in rural India as well as a large research and laboratory facility in Pune, India.
TriMet Public Art, Portland, OR, US, Construction Coordinator
I coordinated, implemented, and managed myriad small projects. This included providing technical support for the development of art projects for the Interstate MAX Light Rail. I collected and helped develop visual and written materials for the Art Program and provided limited administrative support for the combined Public Art Program. In so doing, I served as a liaison between public artists, construction teams, and contractors. Other tasks included researching, creating budgets, and drafting descriptions of scopes of work. I also coordinated structural and technical reviews of art proposals with TriMet technical staff, wrote report summaries, and monitored required follow-ups. In addition, I developed and maintained construction and installation schedules of art elements and facilitated monthly art matrix meetings with the civil contractor, resident engineer, project architect, and public art staff. Along with oversight of the installations of artwork (including coordination of pre- construction meetings with artists and contractors), I was required to document the fabrication and installation for each art project. The latter required that I develop and maintain permanent record files for each art project because I managed visual and written materials for the art program (including cataloging, duplicating, and distributing artists’ submittals). This included the creation and maintenance of a photo archive as well as responding to requests for images. Finally, I coordinated display materials including identifying opportunities for portable displays and exhibitions.
Yale University, New Haven, CT, US, Research Assistant
As a research assistant and grant writer for the Connecticut Women’s Health Project (CWHP), I helped conduct a collaborative, community-based research program among women and families with and at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In partnership with community health centers, hospital clinics, public health departments, and other community colleagues, our mission was to serve women and their families through research that informed health care and health policy. Projects included: (1) a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a behavioral intervention to reduce HIV/STD risk for young women in a group prenatal care setting; (2) the translation of RCT to eight Community Health Centers in Connecticut; (3) a prospective longitudinal study of pregnant and non-pregnant adolescent women and their risks for HIV, STDs, and repeat pregnancy; and (4) the development and evaluation of a new form of postpartum primary care for mothers and babies delivered in a group format.
Carleton College, Northfield, MN, US, BArch, Major-Religion, Minor-Archaeology
Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Los Angeles, CA, US, MArch, MArch I