A Summer to Remember: 2020 Mithun Interns

Date Posted: 08.18.2020

By Jenni McQuay

We value the contributions, energy and ideas that summer interns bring to Mithun. While this year has certainly been unusual, the COVID-19 virus didn’t stop our commitment to creating an engaging internship experience for future designers. During their time with us, students gain a first-hand perspective of the field while working as part of our interdisciplinary design teams on projects spanning housing, education, cultural, civic and workplace typologies. Our 2020 cohort tapped digital tools like Zoom, Miro and Teams to stay connected throughout the day, with regular 9:00 am check-ins, one-on-one coffee chats to get to know more of the team, and deep dive discussions about integrated design led by the diverse disciplines at Mithun.

We are very pleased to introduce the five students working with us: Caine Knuckles and Navya Sharad in California, and Hannah Shabb, Kim Lusk and Lake Lewis in Washington. With the summer soon coming to a close, we asked them about their inspirations and favorite Mithun experiences. Here’s what they had to say.

CAINE KNUCKLES

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Academic Pursuit: Bachelor of Architecture at California College of the Arts, expected May 2022

Favorite Hobby: Drawing

Caine has always been fascinated by art and design. Growing up, he admired graffiti’s fun and expressive style. Construction was always intriguing to him but he didn’t truly understand why until he began to focus on art more. “I then realized it was the design of the building that caught my attention. Since then I look at architecture as art and art as architecture.”

While at Mithun, Caine is most excited about learning and engaging in conversation with fellow coworkers to gain new perspectives. “After seeing presentations and engaging in meetings I’ve quickly begun to see the diverse and innovative design. My contribution has been me simply participating and asking questions, this has helped me tremendously as a student.”

Caine’s dream project would be a community center with a public park. “I love designing public spaces and I admire landscape architecture. I’m big on community through design and expression.” Reflecting on changes happening across the country, he shared that the highlight of his summer has been “seeing his community coming together to stand for what’s right.”

HANNAH SHABB

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

Academic Pursuit: Masters in Civil and Environmental Engineering (Sustainable Design and Construction) at Stanford University, expected June 2021

Favorite Hobby: Water polo, hiking and photography

Hannah grew up in Seattle hiking with her family and always loved nature and the outdoors. In college, while completing her Bachelor of Science in Earth Systems, she discovered a passion for the intersection between built and natural environments, specifically, biophilic design. Since then, she has been keen to find ways to create spaces that improve both human and environmental health.

This summer Hannah is contributing her passion and expertise toward updates to the buildcarbonneutral.org carbon calculator, which was first created by Mithun in 2007 and continues to serve as a national benchmark and resource for evaluating the embodied carbon of various materials to inform project decisions. She is also working on a case study to investigate how biophlic design affects wellness, which will pave the way for more data-driven and health-focused design choices in the future.

Hannah has really enjoyed working with interior design partner Elizabeth MacPherson, with whom she shares a passion for biophilia. On a personal note, Hannah enjoyed a backpacking trip with her friends through Washington’s beautiful mountains. Looking forward, she is hopeful for a future in design that continues to explore unique perspectives to reach exciting, new solutions to the world’s most complicated problems.

Kim Lusk

Hometown: Bainbridge Island, Washington

Academic Pursuits: Master of Architecture at the University of Washington, expected Spring 2022

Favorite Hobby: Making things with my hands: embroidery, sewing, ceramics

Kim has been interested in space since she started dancing as a little girl. She spent several decades shifting space through dance and is now excited to continue the exploration through architecture. Another lifelong influence is Kim’s father, a contractor-turned-architect who has been pointing out the subtleties of architecture to her for decades. “I love how architects see the world.”

This summer, Kim has enjoyed learning about “different disciplines that are constantly being woven together at Mithun. It feels like there is an active openness to exploration and new ideas.” Within Mithun’s integrated design practice—spanning architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, urban design and planning—this means that conversations and lessons learned range from cross-laminated timber (CLT) structures to pollinator pathways. “I love how a project can inspire ideas about pollinators, and vice versa.”

Kim’s dream project is working on affordable arts spaces: “Art is the heart of our city and I am eager to support art and artists in any way possible. Space is such a valuable resource for artists of all disciplines and ages, so it is a dream to make art space more accessible.”

Kim’s highlight of summer outside the office has been spending the weekends exploring coves and harbors on her kayak. (Photo credit: Ryan Hume)

LAKE LEWIS

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

Academic Pursuit: Bachelor of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), expected 2023

Favorite Hobby: Photography

Memorable Place: Dharamsala. “I saw the most gorgeous landscapes and sunsets of my life, and found the entire trip to be a very centering experience.”

Lake is a Seattle native and thought he would major in musical theater / acting until a pre-college program at CMU inspired him to pursue architecture instead. He realized he really enjoyed design and could see himself majoring in it in the future. He’s now finishing his third summer as an intern with our Seattle office.

Lake is excited to rejoin the coLAB (Mithun’s project visualization and innovation sandbox), and continue honing his model-making skills this summer. He also finds the R+D work that is being done to be incredibly interesting. Seeing how it applies in a professional context to improve the process of space-making and design for positive change has made the idea of doing research feel more tangible and possible.

His dream project would be a master plan for affordable and market-rate living spaces in a major city. Lake is passionate about community engagement and urban design, and would like to be involved particularly with how people navigate these spaces, as well as finding the best ways to create homes that are conducive to healthy living and growth.

Lake enjoys photography and in his free time you’ll find him doing portrait shoots with friends or for a fashion collective highlighting college trends on Instagram.

NAVYA SHARAD

Hometown: Bangalore, India

Academic Pursuit: Bachelor of Architecture at California College of the Arts, expected May 2021

Favorite Hobby: Muay Thai (also known as Thai boxing)

Navya became familiar with density from growing up in Bangalore, which influenced her interest in urban and community design.

Since being at Mithun, Navya has enjoyed “the focus on community, both within the workplace and on projects. I got some insight into antiracist landscape work at a meeting and was excited to listen in on that conversation. R+D chats have also covered a variety of interesting projects including designing for net zero and a pollination project.” Her most exciting internship moment so far has been going on a site visit and getting to spend some time working with a Mithun R+D team.

There have been several highlights of Navya’s summer including making connections at the workplace (albeit mostly from home) and having a friend’s dog stay with her for a few months. She also recently learned that her studio project from last semester will be featured in the AIA Los Angeles’ 2×8 student exhibition.

Navya’s dream project would be to design a library. “Reading content is being consumed in increasingly different formats and I think that poses an interesting question of what facilities libraries should have as we begin to move away from print material. As a public space, it also combines my interests in urban context and access.“ Navya’s experience at Mithun has also increased her curiosity about integrated landscape and architecture, and design for health.

The next phase
We are excited to follow Caine, Hannah, Kim, Lake and Navya as they continue their studies and progress in their careers. Perhaps some will even return to Mithun to practice in the future like nine members of our current team, ranging from early career architects to seasoned partners, who first joined the firm as student interns, too.