MFx16: Meet Laura Kurtz

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Laura Kurtz
Bachelor of Architecture
Louisiana State University, 2017

What motivated you to study architecture?
Unlike many students I have come across in architecture school, I didn’t grow up knowing I wanted to be an architect. I think a lot of young people struggle when they graduate high school with deciding “what they want to be when they grow up.” Choosing a career path and finding what truly interests you can be a lifelong journey. When I started college I wasn’t an architecture major. I was always motivated to keep searching for what interested me; I was never sure what I wanted to do. I think it’s important to constantly check-in with yourself and be aware of how you think and what interests you. I have always been a designer at heart and when I decided to change my major to architecture I was taking a big risk. I knew very little about the subject. I didn’t have a family member or friend that was familiar with the field. Basically, I was going into the curriculum blind, with only a hunch that this would be a good fit for me. To make a long story short, taking a risk and trying something new was the best decision I could have made. Architecture, to me at least, is the perfect blend of reward and challenge. Seeing an idea become a reality, regardless of the struggle, is what motivates me.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was born in Maryland and moved to Louisiana when I was a few months old. My parents grew up in the northeast; my dad from the Boston area and my mom from New Jersey. Growing up in the south but having a family from the northeast is not particularly common. Although I grew up miles away from my extended family, it allowed my parents and my brother and I to be very close. That’s really important to me.

What do you like doing aside from architecture?
I don’t know if this is a cliché or not, but over the past year I have really enjoyed practicing yoga. As much as I would like to claim I’m a “chill” person, I’m prone to anxiety and stress. Being able to decompress and exercise simultaneously is what keeps me practicing.

Analog or digital?
Analog photography. Since the question is a little open-ended, and I recently took a photography class, I immediately thought photography. I don’t consider myself an experienced or professional photographer by any means. I took the class on a whim. We had the choice to photograph with any device. I used one camera the entire semester- a Minolta SR-T 101. The first time I developed film was a complete disaster. I developed, and ruined, five rolls of film. I could have easily just switched to a digital camera and made my life a whole lot easier. I guess I just wanted to prove I could do it, or make my life harder, I’m not sure which one. After that I slowly improved. By the end of the semester I had 30 photographs that were worthy to be matted and framed, each taking roughly and hour or two to enlarge and print in the dark room. What surprised me the most about analog photography is the skill and patience required to get a single print. It’s not just point and shoot. Seeing an image come to life after a series of development processes, for lack of better words, is cool.

Where do you plan to travel to next?
Japan. I would like to go and stay in just a few cities for a significant period of time. I rather stay in one area than try to go everywhere for just a day. I’ve always been drawn to the culture, the architecture, the food, the list goes on and on…

Is there something particular that fuels your creativity?
I’m not sure if there’s one thing in particular that helps fuel my creativity. I can’t just pop some earbuds in and instantly know the answer. What helps me the most is knowing when to get up and walk away. Getting space from a project and letting ideas “marinate” works best for me.

What's your design process like?
My design process has changed quite a bit throughout school. For the first two years, I spent most of my time drafting by hand and building models. Once we were introduced to modeling and drafting software, there was a drop in the quality of the work. Yes, it was nice to have printed drawings and perspectives, but it’s easy to get lost in the digital world. I believe there is a time and a place for both. I start most of my projects sketching. I’m an extremely visual person and am always more successful in my design phase if I build physical models. Most of the time they are trash models that I constantly tear up and rebuild. Once I need to increase the level of detail, I’ll continue work in the computer.