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a recap of intern week 2023

Catherine Saunders

Ushering in the summer season, TBG’s Austin office opened its doors to interns from all offices. Hailing from eight different universities, interns arrived to participate in Intern Week. The beloved annual event is a four-day charrette that introduces interns to our design process, helps strengthen collaboration skills and revolves around a key project with a client presentation. This year’s project was the 19-acre, multifamily St. John’s project located in the Coronado Hills neighborhood of Austin. A departure from other intern experiences, we immerse our interns in a real-world project with a real client and real deadlines.

Interns spent their week designing for the expansion of an existing park on the site, keeping in mind the history of St. John’s as well as previous community engagement and program elements such as an intergenerational splash pad, multi-use pavilion, community garden and stormwater filtration and detention.

Let’s meet the interns!

Class of 2023

Ella Gielstra — Texas Tech University
Katy Coats — Texas Tech University
Lantz Engstrom — Texas A&M University
Sidney Camery — Purdue University (wrapping up her yearlong internship!)

Alexa Nallen — University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Beth Sipzner — University of Texas at Arlington
Juan Lozano — Purdue University (yearlong)
Lexi Kuehnel — Texas A&M University
Luis Campos — Purdue University (yearlong)
Taylor Tryggestad — Texas A&M University

Jacob Marek — Texas A&M University
Julia Penick — University of Texas
Kathryn Willard — Michigan State University
Ruby Vaughn — University of Georgia

San Antonio
Kathleen Marlett — Texas A&M University

All of our interns participated in the four-day charrette hosted by the Austin office. Much like our design process, we believe in the power of bringing people together to create alignment and bolster excitement – and bringing our interns together in this way builds camaraderie and support that transcends their week together but also their internship time at TBG.

It was a busy four days! Here is what their schedule looked like.

Day One / Tuesday, May 30th
Interns made their way to TBG Austin Tuesday morning where they were greeted with lunch and introductions. They jumped right into project kick-off with clients and TBG Principal Justin Lindabury, Senior Associate Carson Chapman and designer Taylor Davis. The group was familiarized with the project and its history before heading out to see the site. Further researching the neighborhood context, the group toured nearby TBG project, Highland ATX, and closed the day with a welcome dinner at Lazarus Brewing Company to celebrate the interns and their busy week ahead! Looking back on this introductory day, Taylor Tryggestad from the Dallas office says, “Overall, kickoff day was inspiring. We were all excited for what the rest of the week had in store.”

Day Two / Wednesday, May 31st
Principal and Director of Design, Nicole Warns, began day two with a lecture on inventory and analysis. Her second lecture on programming and functional use diagrams (FUD) was sandwiched in between work sessions. Nicole spoke on the hand drawing process and steps to create a successful FUD, which interns were able to implement right away. A gifted teacher, Nicole helped the group communicate their ideas more efficiently.

Day Three / Thursday, June 1st
The last full day kicked off with leaders Taylor and Carson framing out the day, so interns knew how best to prioritize their time. Principal Russell Larsen gave a lecture on visioning and early concepts. Intern Taylor Tryggestad says, “If TBG were Hell’s Kitchen, Russell Larsen would be Gordon Ramsey — in the best way possible. He is a genius and getting to hear him speak was fantastic. It really put us in our place in a sense that we were pushed to be intentional with our way of thinking. It got us out of the box, and really set us up for intuitive thinking when it came down to designing our project for the week.” It was a late night for the students, who after a work session and pin-up, had to rough out their deliverables.

Day Four / Friday, June 2nd
With only a few hours before final presentations, the last day of Intern Week began with a pin-up and internal review. Designers from the Austin studio joined to offer guidance. Groups made their last round of edits and perfected their presentations before presenting to the client, project partners and entire Austin office. Alexa Nallan, shared, “Everyone in the office was engaged during presentations, and getting advice from professionals is the most valuable input you can get. Seeing the other groups present always helps you get a better idea of where you stand, what you may be missing or want to change, and what you like.”

The group said their goodbyes after a congratulatory lunch and headed back to their respective cities! We look forward to having our interns for the remainder of the summer. Students offer extremely valuable points of view and TBG is passionate about investing in the next generation of landscape architects.

You can read about last year’s Intern Week here. You can also check out recaps from 2021 and 2020 here and here.