Originally from the Soviet Union, spent her formative years in the San Francisco Bay area. As an undergraduate, she attended the University of California, Davis where she earned a double major in International Relations, Peoples & Nationalities, and Spanish. During college, she spent a year in Granada, Spain, where she lived in a 600 year-old building with views of the Alhambra. It was during this period that she became interested in urban planning and design. After briefly interning in the planning department of an engineering firm, and working for several years for a boutique real estate developer in San Francisco, Tamara had an “epiphany” of sorts that led her to take a summer intensive in architecture at the University of California, Berkeley—an experience she calls life changing.
In fall 2010, she applied for graduate architecture programs, hoping to come to New York. Once accepted at Parsons, Tamara learned about its . “I was completely excited about this opportunity, and immediately understood that lighting is integral and essential to architecture. The opportunity to study architecture through the lens of lighting design is a clear path for designing inspired built environments.”
Currently, Tamara is in her third year (6th semester) of the Dual Degree Master of Architecture and MFA Lighting Design program. Let’s follow her around for a day to get a glimpse into the daily life of a design student:
8:30 AM: Wake Up
Normally I get up anywhere between 7 and 8 in the morning, depending on whether or not I have a morning class and how little I have slept. I do not have a lot of time at home this morning, so I have a cup of tea and check a few emails before heading out the door.
9:20 AM: Arrive at School
Arriving at studio in the morning is always a nice feeling. There’s the group of people that’s always there early and everything seems relatively calm. Even with about 130 graduate design students sharing this one open space, it can feel like one small family.
This semester I am taking an architectural photography course with the photographer Michael Moran. Today Michael took us out to Union Square to show us how to use shift lenses. In a previous assignment, we built our own pinhole camera and developed our own photographs. Our next task will be to photograph a real building using a 17 or 24 mm shift lens, capturing different facets of a piece of architecture.
10:50 AM: It’s not unusual for me not to get a chance to eat something until now. I walk across the street to our corner deli for a bagel and cream cheese. I check my email at my desk to find out what our schedule for studio will be.
11:05 AM: Passive House Design Studio—Building Models
After , we are now partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Philadelphia to design a series of row houses in West Philadelphia that will incorporate Passive House principles—today’s highest energy standards. Four teams of four students are each designing a distinct scheme so that Habitat will have viable options for building on their site. Our challenge is threefold: designing to Passive House standards; designing affordable homes with low construction costs; and for very narrow lots (we are designing homes as narrow as 14 feet wide).
My group is third on the presentation list today, so we have a little time beforehand to make progress on our models. We squeeze in enough time to get another laser-cut file done. Ultimately, the ¼” = 1’0” house model and the ⅛” = 1’0” massing model will be used for a presentation in Philadelphia where we will be showing our progress to both community members and the team from Habitat. In this situation, clear and detailed models will help reinforce our ideas and create a dialogue with all parties involved. The clearer our work, the more helpful the criticism we will receive.
14:10 PM: Passive House Design Studio—Presentation Prep
For today’s pinup presentation, we have prepared presentation boards, physical models and a digital slide presentation. I meet with my teammate Tore to go over the sequence and content of our slides.
15:00 PM: Passive House Design Studio–Presentation
Our team is investigating a four-house option with side yards between the homes. In this project, literally every inch counts. As a lighting design (as well as an architecture) student, I hope to add value through the integration of daylighting and electric lighting design, which up to this point Habitat has not had the resources to include in their projects. In addition to our professor Laura Briggs (BriggsKnowles Studio) and our TA Gal Gabriel, who worked on the DC Habitat project as a student, today Tim Mcdonald (Onion Flats) is coming from Philadelphia and David Lewis (LTL Architects), our interim Dean, is joining us for our review. The goal for today’s review is to show our progress thus far—how our team developed four individual house schemes and ultimately united to create one final design.
16:15 PM: Passive House Design Studio—Post-Presentation Meeting
After all the valuable feedback during the review, our team meets to discuss our response and plan a course of action. We need to juggle the demands of affordable passive house design with spatial and qualitative design aspirations.
17:00 PM: Passive House Design Studio—Planning for Mid-Semester Review
After every group has a review, we meet as a studio to discuss and plan for the mid-semester review in Philadelphia. There are logistics to work out (i.e., how to get printed boards and physical model prepared for transport). In addition, we need to agree collectively on how to discuss the project with community members (language, content, etc.).
17:40 PM: Passive House Design Studio—Planning for Mid-Semester Review
We gather again as a team to go over the building plans, and agree on the necessary changes based on today’s review. With these changes complete, we can move on to production work (final drawings, layouts, renderings, etc.).
18:00 PM: Passive House Design Studio—Model Making
My teammate Megan and I get back to working on the models. I focus on some of the detail work—building every piece of furniture for the house. When working with such small details, tweezers are required!
19:30 PM: Dinner Break
Tonight we do something a bit unusual, and take a dinner break outside of studio. Powered with delicious burgers and milkshakes, we can return to studio reenergized. Normally we just grab food to go and eat at our desks, so this was a nice break to relax with my teammates.
20:45 PM: Final Preparations
We return to studio and I continue working on the house model. First making laser cut files and then assembling, these models take a great deal of time and care. By the end of the night, I am almost done! Tomorrow I will need to add the final touches.
23:45 PM: Home Again
After being in studio for 14 hours, it is time to go home. When I return home, I do some TA related work and answer emails. I like to keep the light levels low at night, helping me to prepare for bed.
00:30 AM: And to Bed…
And finally, to unwind before bedtime I do a bit of crocheting. Now I need to get to sleep…