Get My Job: Spotlight on Architecture
In this Nexus series, Get My Job, we interview alumni and faculty from one of the University’s 200-plus undergraduate and graduate professional programs. The latest installment features bachelor of architecture graduate and faculty member Natasha A. Trice.
Through her professional work and by instructing the next generation of architects, alumna Natasha A. Trice wants to change how people experience architecture through animation.
Now living in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Trice owns and runs her own company, worked for two leading architecture and urban design practices, and teaches a Jefferson course that challenges students to design through moving imagery.
The Class of 2014 graduate shares how the University launched her career, discusses her path, offers advice to students and more.
What was the best part of your time at Jefferson?
I traveled to South Africa for the eNtokozweni Community Study with Chris Harnish, associate professor of architecture, during the summer of my fourth year. While in Joburg, I realized as designers, we have a unique opportunity—and I would argue responsibility—to improve lives through innovative, intentional design. This experience pushed me to earn my master of architecture and urban design from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation to learn the tools needed to do so at a larger scale.
How did Jefferson prepare you for your career?
The University exposed me to various types of challenges by offering diverse classes. These opportunities helped me figure out my natural talents, like hand drawing. For example, I enjoyed my art classes and even worked as a teaching assistant at one point. I was simultaneously learning about the built environment, technically, and how to see and document it, physically. This came to fruition during my study abroad in Rome as I started to hand sketch and began to think differently about documentation and narrative.
What was your path to land in your current position?
In 2015, I began working at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), led by Rem Koolhaas, in its New York, Hong Kong and Rotterdam offices. I served as a key member of the Audrey Irmas Pavilion project in Los Angeles, a built community center that houses cultural, event and religious spaces for Wilshire Boulevard Temple and its surrounding community. Other significant projects include the Sotheby’s Auction House renovation in New York City and Virgil Abloh’s “Figures of Speech Exhibition” at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
I joined MVRDV (named for founders Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries) in Rotterdam as an architect in 2020. Under Winy Maas, I was the lead designer for a winning competition for a confidential mixed-use residential tower in Dubai.
I currently run my own creative design company called The Nomad, which focuses on animation and research of the built and unbuilt environment. I established the collaborative to explore my passion for storytelling through discovering and creating regionalist expressions and examining design impacted by its cultural contexts. Designing in different contexts generates unique questions that promote and require exceptional innovation. I believe this innovation is the keystone of great design.
What do you love most about architecture and your current work?
The mix of project types. We can research a proposal, work on a master plan and do everything in between. You always face new challenges, and you learn how to adapt quickly, which is fun.
Tell us about the course you teach at Jefferson.
Besides architecture, I really enjoy animation if you couldn’t tell. My class, a second-year architectural animation studio at Jefferson, and my company focus on how to explore and experience architecture in nontraditional forms through story and moving imagery. Design can come to life, have meaning and be easily understood—it’s about how you explain its story. I think it’s a disadvantage that we rely so much on 2D representation in a 3D profession. I hope to change that within the profession and our educational techniques.
What advice do you have for current or prospective students?
Learn from your mistakes and always give 150%.