Thomas Nguyen

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”

-John Dewey  

Born and raised in Wichita, KS, I grew up tinkering with anything I can get my hands. I took everything apart. I wanted to know how everything works. I would eventually reassemble whatever it was I took apart, back together; however, a few times I wasn’t be able to put it back together correctly. In those situation I just told people that it was broken to begin with…

Growing up, I always thought I will become an engineer, but it wasn’t until high school that I realized what being an engineer entails. This revelation made me reconsider the profession I wanted to be in. After taking a few drafting courses at my high school, I became very interested in what architects do. Following high school graduation, I enrolled in the University of Kansas’ Master of Architecture program. During my time in the program, I was fortunate enough to experience a semester at DIS in Copenhagen, Denmark and participate in two design build programs, one of which was Studio 804. These experiences have influenced my designs and changed the way I communicate my ideas, designs and drawings.

As a designer and builder, I believe John Dewey’s philosophy to be very true in that “learning by doing” is a natural human behavior. I believe this method of teaching is a better way people retain information they are taught compared to the traditional method of reading books and listening to lectures. My time in Studio 804 gave me the opportunity to experience the construction side of architecture and how a building comes together using the construction documents set we had put together. We were taught as architecture students how to draw details but we were never taught that in the field, buildings are not built exactly to the construction documents. Field changes will always be made, but as architecture students we assume the building are built exactly the way we draw them. This balance of designing and construction is valuable to an architect, not only will they be able to better communicate their ideas and designs, but design better knowing how a building comes together in reality.