City and Regional Planning

Posted September 16, 2014

Summer Internship in Beijing!

Suzanne Mahoney, dual degree MCP and LARP, wrote the following as part of her Career Services Summer Funding Grant:

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to intern with the internationally acclaimed landscape architecture firm, Turenscape, in Beijing China. Turenscape meaning Dirt (Tu) + Man (Ren) was founded in 1997 by Dr. Kongjian Yu, who received his Ph.D. in Design from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Dr. Yu is a legend in the Chinese professional design world and I really enjoyed learning from him and his team working in such a fast pace environment.

I was eager to apply to Turenscape’s intern program after seeing the office first hand during a class trip to Beijing in March 2014. My City Planning design studio led by Professor Stefan Al traveled to Beijing to exchange ideas on Affordable Housing with city planning officials and design professionals of China. I was thrilled to be invited back for the entire summer.

While with Turenscape, I was included in two international design competitions and a large residential development design in Beijing. A majority of my time was spent working with a small team developing a framework plan for Sokolniki Park in Moscow, Russia. This design competition included only ten design teams selected from around the world to propose a cohesive scheme for the large urban park. As an intern, my job was to generate as many ideas and concepts for the park so senior designers could react and respond, ultimately making the final design decisions. This was a great opportunity for me to have fun and explore new ideas, while getting useful feedback from experienced designers including Dr. Yu.

This experience was challenging though to say the least. Between communication barriers, culture shock, bad air quality, and the longest most crowded bus rides of my life, I certainly missed life in America, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my time exploring China. During my summer I was able to visit Tianjin, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou. Each city revealed a new perspective on life in China.

A favorite experience was a day trip to The Great Wall of China. On my previous trip to China my classmates and I visited one section of the Great Wall called Bādálǐng. This section is completely renovated and packed full of tourists most days. While there, I was even approached to take pictures with some of the Chinese locals. My second experience on the Great Wall was far different. This time around, my colleagues and I visited the “Wild Wall”, a section called Jiànkòu, which is completely untouched. We climbed for hours up and down very dangerous rocky terrain. We had no idea how dangerous our adventure would be. Luckily we made it back to the city safely with some minor scraps, sore muscles, and amazing pictures of some of China’s beautiful landscape.

Reflecting on my summer in Beijing, China, I realize what an amazing time I had meeting people, exploring new places, eating great food, and advancing my career as a designer. I am so grateful for the Career Services grant I received, without which I would never have been able to travel half way around the world.