a summer at el dorado

Posted on November 14th, 2016 at 6:02 pm by

A guest blog post by our first eldo prize winner, aka EP1, Zach Grewe.

When I moved to Kansas City in June this year, I was a little unsure of what my summer would be like. I knew a few people that lived there and I’d heard it was an interesting city. But to be honest, I was skeptical that it was going to be an exciting place to spend my time, and I assumed it was going to be just like any other “big” midwestern city. I was, however, excited to begin work. I knew a little about el dorado, and everyone that I spoke to had only good things to say about them; intelligent, award-winning designs, and, on top of that, they had a fabrication shop that I was going to have an opportunity to spend some time in. Even if Kansas city was going to turn out to be as dull as I assumed it would, at least I would have some refuge in the work I was doing.

As it turns out, living and working here took me by surprise. Not once this summer did I find myself bored or wishing I had something to do. And, more importantly, the work I did at el dorado surpassed my expectations.

EP 1_model making

2016_Detail Prize_Camp Prairie Schooner_project datasheet_sm_outlined

I worked on a variety of projects at a range of scales. I helped with housing projects, a competition entry, and an addition to museum’s campus. I also assisted with award submissions which gave me the opportunity to not only become very familiar with el dorado’s work in a very short period of time, but more importantly, it gave me the chance to discuss the projects with those in the office who had actually worked on them. It became clear to me that each of these projects were successful due to el dorado’s deep investment in the work they do.

west elevation-pace diagrams

I also worked on Grand Boulevard Bridge Redux, a collaborative project with local artist Jim Woodfill, which was my most consistent project over the summer. This was a fast moving project for the Department of Transportation, which meant that I got to see multiple project phases over the course of the summer. Toward the end of my summer, I was also able to spend some time in the shop and learned a lot about steel fabrication and welding techniques, a first for me.


Without a doubt, work was great. Equally as great was exploring Kansas City in my free time. Museums, sporting events, concerts, great restaurants, and the river market are some of the places I frequented after work and on the weekends. My friends and I also took a few opportunities to bike ride on some of the trail systems in Kansas City’s surrounding areas. Looking back, it was a summer well spent. Quality work in an exciting city. Now in my fifth and final year of architecture school, I feel much better about moving from academia to the professional world.