© Shutterstock.com / Carlos Amarillo

Find the Story, and a Project Comes Alive

Blogger: Mike Rodriguez, Design Principal | Minneapolis, MN, USA
January 11, 2017

Mike Rodriguez, AIA, NCARB, EDAC, LEED AP, design principal | vice president in the Minneapolis architecture studio, just wrapped up his first semester as an adjunct professor at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis. Anyone who knows Mike won’t be surprised to hear that the course material — and his passion for teaching it — made a lasting impact on his students.

“We take seminars and electives once every semester, and no semester has been this fun, challenging, or needed,” says student Roman Vladimirovich. “Rarely do we get professors who are this enthusiastic. Mike has a passion for this subject, and he relayed the information so we could easily understand it.”

The curriculum for the architecture seminar course was based on storytelling: Finding stories behind projects in order to win work. Every building has a story. If you make a connection, people can relate to it. If you’re passionate about it, they’ll remember you for it.

Here is what students Roman and Tyler Bares had to say about the course, their teacher, and their future careers in the architecture field:

Q: What was your favorite thing about this course?

Roman: “The professor. Mike was great.”

Tyler: “Mike would bring in different people from the office, and we would have a dialogue following our presentations. It was a huge learning experience to talk one-on-one with people who know. It was such a privilege to have them come in. It was really beneficial.”

Q: What did you learn?

Roman: “The project that sticks out to me is a rowing facility since I didn’t know much about rowing at the time. A rowing facility is a garage in which the boats are kept. I wanted to design a utopian building that would be inviting for the rowers when they come back in from rowing during the winter.  I focused on how much pain is involved with the sport. They’re in tight clothes, freezing, and in pain, so they’re seeking warmth, security, and safety. That was the story behind the project.”

Tyler: “One of the biggest things was learning how to be confident when you’re presenting. I also learned how to develop a story to communicate ideas. When you can relate to something you understand it better, so we would talk about different projects.”

Q: Did this course give you a glimpse into what the real world of architecture is like? How?

Roman: “Mike had a good vision when he set the course up because every architect needs to know how to tell a story. Mike really made our whole class think of every single project differently.”

Tyler: “During each class, Mike shared what he was working on so we got to see real content and how it was developing in real time. It was an eye-opener, and it was great to be taught by someone who was working on projects at that very moment. It was the best example of what we’ll be doing in our careers.”

So what’s next for Mike and Dunwoody students? His second course will focus on how to communicate design through freehand drawing.

Photo credit: © Shutterstock.com / Carlos Amarillo 

Reader Comments (1)

Way to go, Mike! You are one of HDR's finest! Thanks for representing yourself and HDR so well. Keep up the inspiring work!

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