Recap: An Amazing Summer at el dorado

Posted on September 29th, 2017 at 8:34 am by

Guest blog post by Eldo Prize winner #2 (EP2), Emily Lange, a fifth-year student at the University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design.


When I heard that I won the Eldo Prize last spring, it was a no-brainer that I would be moving from Knoxville to Kansas City for the summer. I had never been to KC but had heard great things. My ceramics instructor told me I wouldn’t want to come back. So, while I was happy to return to Knoxville for my final year of architecture studies at the University of Tennessee, Kansas City and el dorado did not let me down.

Working at el dorado was my first professional architectural experience. Most interns start out by doing monotonous tasks, and while I had expected that this might be the case for me, I was pleasantly surprised when I was thrown right into the design process. As a firm that pursues architecture at different scales and typologies, el dorado offered me a rich experience working on a variety of projects and design phases. From model making to schematic design to finish specifications, I gained a comprehensive understanding of what it’s like to work at a fast pace within a critical design practice. The entire studio put effort into making this a successful learning experience for me by allowing me the freedom to explore design solutions as a respected team member while also aligning tasks and research opportunities to my interests.
During three quick months at el dorado I worked on an awning design for 300,000 square foot 3-D printing facility in Minneapolis; a macro-scaled Food Hall in Mission, Kansas; a finish schedule for a new housing development in Mission, Kansas; an adaptive re-use for a rail bridge in Kansas City, Kansas spanning the Kansas River; a 50 acre riverfront redevelopment in North Minneapolis and an addition to a landmark house in Lake Quivira, Kansas.


3-D printed awning trellis for a 3-D printing manufacturing facility in Minneapolis

everything building_diptych

Model studies for a light industrial food hall in Mission, Kansas

Kaw River diptych

Iterative design studies for an adaptive re-use of the Kaw River rail bridge over the Kansas River in Kansas City, Kansas

Beatty diptych

Model studies for a renovation and addition to an Albert Yanda landmark house in Lake Quivira, Kansas

The people I met at el dorado are some of the best I have ever known. Everyone brings a unique personality to the office, and this is ever-present in their design work. While diverse perspectives are sometimes difficult to distill into a collective vision, el dorado achieves this while having fun! Ideas are never disregarded; rather, they are built upon and morph into something more. Great design at el dorado emerges from an office culture rooted in deep respect for one another.

everything building model building session_edited

Outside of the studio, my coworkers became my best friends. I rode bikes with them almost every day after work, which was also how I got to know the city. They made sure I ate well, taking me to their favorite spots in the city, most notably Mark’s house on the Westside or to The Peanut for “Wing Wednesday.” We cooked out and explored the local dives.

EP2 outro diptych3

Never imagining I’d live in Kansas City was just one of many things that made this opportunity so special. I got to know a city that I would not have known otherwise, with amazing people in unforgettable ways. I hope to be back in Kansas City soon.