Inside USD

Katinka Bosch: Architect of Change

Friday, October 4, 2013

The University of San Diego is a designated Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. As a steward of this initiative, the USD Changemaker Hub awarded nine current USD students with up to $2,000 each in the Summer Changemaker Fellowship program, which was partially funded by School of Business Administration Board of Advisors member Chris Crane. Each student has worked on a project they’re passionate about that makes positive change. This is the final Inside USD article in the series about the 2013 Summer Changemaker Fellows.

Katinka Bosch, a junior architecture major at USD, has launched a project to employ her craft in a different way. Instead of trying to design the massive suspension bridges or grandiose temples that we all think of when we think of her field, she wants to transform architecture from the impressive external to the intimate internal, from the once-in-a-lifetime to the everyday.

“I find that people are affected so much by architecture every day, but don’t realize it,” Bosch explained. “For instance, you feel that you must be quiet in a library because of the way it is designed, and the lawns on campus feel untouchable and intimidating because of the way they were architecturally planned.”

It’s this human, psychological aspect of architecture that Katrina spent her summer studying, her goal being to use her knowledge to reshape one of the most traffic-heavy locations on the USD campus — the third-floor offices of the Student Life Pavilion.

“In the classroom, it is hard to discover what about architecture really causes these feelings in a space,” she said. “But through the (Summer Changemaker) fellows program, I knew I could find a way to work off of campus and start figuring out the secrets of architecture.”

Bosch, who prepared for the project through extensive preparation with her faculty mentor, Assistant Professor of Architecture Daniel Lopez-Perez, observed three different spaces in Southern California — the Gensler office in Los Angeles, the Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego, and an EvoNexus workplace in downtown San Diego.

For five weeks, she watched their workflow, gauging the mood and productivity of the employees. One of the difficulties she faced early on was taking the observational experience of watching an office place and turning that visual into hard numbers she could work with. She decided upon recording the occupancy rates of various spaces at each site, tracking them throughout the day, and noting the potential causes — lunch, meetings, etc. — of any dips or peaks. She then combined and compared those numbers to hone in on the information she needed.

“I was specifically focusing on the relationship between people and their collaboration as a result of the architecture around them,” Bosch said. “I wanted to see how the architecture of a workplace affects how people operate and act … Then I could see what sorts of things could be done to improve the third floor of the SLP to bring students together.”

Workplaces across the country are undergoing changes as top companies are finding that workplace production increases workplace satisfaction. While reshaping a space is normally a luxury left to the companies with the resources to do so, Bosch managed her work with the help from a few key mentors.

“I was lucky to be given the opportunity to work with Tom Heffernan and Ben Reginer of Gensler,” she said. “Both of them took time out of their work schedules to mentor me and give me suggestions in regards to my project.”

Additionally, she received ample help and guidance on campus. Besides Lopez-Perez, she appreciates Patricia Marquez and Juan Carlos Rivas, the director and assistant director of USD’s Changemaker Hub, respectively, for putting her in contact with Gensler — the third-largest architecture company in the world — and being consistent, invaluable assets to her project. As she completes her data in preparation for an October presentation of her proposal, she keeps in mind the help she received, the hard work she put in, and the lasting impression she plans to make.

“I hope to impact the campus in a way that brings students together and forms a sense of community here at USD,” said Bosch. “After what I have learned this summer, architecture is a great place to start.”

— Moses Utomi ’11

Read about other Summer Changemaker Fellows: Ailsa Tirado, Brian Wisdom/Aaron McCarthy, Leo Brown-Young, Danielle CantwellKyle MillerGabby Sghia-Hughes and Ellie Phillips.

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