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Jonathan Stein, MArch/MCM ’93


Partner, Skidmore Ownings and Merrill

When I graduated in 1993, it was in the middle of the Recession. Students that had graduated from the previous year were still hanging out at the school because there were no jobs. I moved to NYC where architecture firms were not hiring. I sent out more than 250 resumes and went on 10 job interviews before I was offered my first job. Due to the inconsistency of work, I worked for five different firms the next five years. I then landed at SOM were I have been ever since. If you truly love architecture and the profession, be persistent and patient. The future has tremendous opportunities for you!

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Lindsay Thompson, BA ’83 (Architecture)

Baltimore, Maryland

Director, Operations, JLL

Graduation in the time of COVID19—what a mixed bag of emotions you must have!

It's a test of resiliency for both institutions and individuals, but I know you all are prepared.

Your work at the WashU School of Architecture has demonstrated your ability to deal with the vague, unknown, and even the unknowable, in many creative and thoughtful ways.

You are ready for the world, and it needs you now more than ever!

Congratulations! Go forth, do good work, and wash your hands.

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Maja Tokic, MArch ’11

Baltimore, Maryland

Although the situation we're in now is unprecedented, soon you'll be out in the workforce. Value yourself. Wages haven't gone up in over a decade so don't accept initial low offers which will put you in a financial struggle for years. Advocate for yourself and the profession—never work for free. Don't deify the old guard; know that the future lies in you and your ideas.

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Benedict Tranel, BA ’97 (Architecture)

San Francisco, California

Principal, Gensler

To the Class of 2020

you are embarking into a world that has been changed
class of 2020
will have the same resonance as 9/11
and like 9/11
when I was a recently graduated architect
with dreams of creating something in the world
I learned that the power of the creative act
endures longer than the destructive act
there are those of us who seek to create
you are one
and we will endure

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Nash Waters, MArch ’14

New York, New York

Weiss/Manfredi Architecture Landscape Urbanism

Dear Class of 2020,

I'm sure this has been a challenging time for you, your family, friends, and colleagues. It has really been a difficult time for all of us, as we constantly adjust to this new, surreal reality. However, we are, like you all, still busy at work, drawing from our home desks and kitchen tables. We are continuing to collaborate, but at a distance.

These are far from ordinary times. The rapid spread of this virus has thrown everyday life into a fragile and delicate balance. But this won't last forever.

We look forward to the day when we can, once again, throw open the doors of our studios and welcome people back inside.  In the meantime, stay safe, keep connected, and take care of one another. Be kind. Be generous. And, above all, be a good citizen.

Best wishes,
Nash Waters

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Dan Weissman, BA ’05 (Architecture)

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Senior Associate & DIrector of Lam Labs, Lam Partners

Hi! Congratulations! Mazel Tov! How this will impact your next steps is anyone's guess. When life gives you lemons... well, you know the rest. If I can impart one piece of wisdom, it is this: "Yes, and." Ripped from the playbook of improv, it means to take any opportunity and build on it. Never pass on something intriguing even if it's unexpected and may change previous assumptions. As a designer, this could be applied at the smallest scale of a detailing exercise, or taking a job or project that doesn't meet your previous expectations of what you'd be doing with your life. See above "lemons" for further information on that one! Always put a north arrow on your drawings. Light what you want to see. Support your community. Do good work.

Tom Welsh, BA ’80 (Architecture)

Tom Welsh, BA ’80 (Architecture)

Raleigh, North Carolina

President, Revware Inc.

Much of my time at WashU seems like a distant dream, but memories of studying architecture in Givens Hall remain sharp and invigorating. You are at a transitional time, in a course of study, with an association of friends and peers who are shaping your life more profoundly than any experience to come—or so that is how it was for me, viewing from 40 years out. And I cherish the memories. Facing the challenge confronting you today, I pray that you can say the same in the years to come. And I believe you will. I wish you the best for finishing your studies, for starting your careers, for building your families, for enjoying the adult lives unfolding before you.

Michael Willis, BA ’73 (Architecture), MArch/MSW ’76

Michael Willis, BA ’73 (Architecture), MArch/MSW ’76


Embracing the Change, Expressing Gratitude

I want to send a message of support to the graduate students who have embraced this extraordinary moment of disruption and uncertainty.

We held our first Zoom studio, with all 12 students, plus my co-teacher, looking at each project as if we were standing by their desks, and using our styluses to draw over their shared screens as if we were in the room together. I am quite proud of how the students have taken this extraordinary circumstance in their strides and are pushing through with their work with grace, energy, creativity, integrity, and a spark of humor.  No one asked for this crisis, and yet our students have been the best model of why they wanted to come to Washington University in the first place: Because they want to be architects, they want to build, they want to understand the world through that lens, and they want to make a difference to that world.  I can see it happening right before me, and I say, "Yes, they will, yes."

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Abby Wong, BA ’19 (Architecture)

Congratulations, Class of 2020! To my ArchiThots, I've had the honor of taking studio with many of you, and each semester, I have been mesmerized by the joy, the talent, and the love each of you have to share with this world. The world shines brighter and looks better (quite literally) because of you.

Congratulations, my friends. You all deserve so much celebration. I miss and cherish each of you. Go celebrate and get some sleep!