Architect and former College of DuPage student Michael Pecirno is fascinated by the complexity that goes into planning, designing and building.
“When people think of architecture as a profession, their first inclination is either big skyscrapers or small homes, which are quite opposites,” he said. “Yet my interest in architecture was always more related to the complexity of urban systems – how each piece of architecture built contributes to a greater system in which we live.”
Pecirno is now working on those urban systems in London at Foster + Partners, one of the largest and most prestigious architectural firms in the world. He also was recently selected to participate in the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, North America’s largest international survey of contemporary architecture that will launch in October 2015.
In his position at Foster + Partners as a design strategist, Pecirno combines skills in architecture, urban design and economics.
“My work involves designing for both small systems, such as the layout of an office building, and greater environments, such as exploring urban trends, markets and future ambitions,” he said.
It’s the culmination of a decade of schooling and work. However, when he graduated from high school, Pecirno didn’t want to commit to tuition and time at a four-year school when he wasn’t sure of what career to pursue.
He already was familiar with College of DuPage. As a youngster, he enjoyed several summer courses through the Youth Education program.
“It seemed natural to return, given the value and prior good experience,” he said. “COD afforded me an excellent opportunity to explore architecture and other disciplines within a flexible and supportive environment. What I found was that COD had a well-organized Architecture program with incredibly passionate professors.”
After finishing his associate’s degree in Pre-Architecture, Pecirno transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago and earned his Bachelor of Science in Architecture. He then worked for several firms in both the U.S. and Canada before heading across the Atlantic to London, where he received a scholarship to the Royal College of Art to earn his Masters of Arts degree.
“After completing my two-year master’s degree, I really just wanted to work for a bit,” he said. “Two years without working doesn’t seem like much, but architecture is a fast moving and rapidly evolving discourse.”
In addition to his job, Pecirno is excited about being selected to participate in the Chicago Architecture Biennial. He is looking forward to working with the more than 100 architects, artists and designers who were selected for this event.
Pecirno eventually would like to run his own practice that focuses on urban strategy. But right now he’s looking forward to the experience he will gain with Foster + Partners.
And he’s grateful for getting his start in architecture at College of DuPage.
“COD and its Architecture program are an incredible resource for exploring different careers and paths of study,” he said. “In particular, the Architecture program is staffed by wonderful teachers. New students shouldn’t be afraid to explore different courses to find out what they really enjoy doing.
“And my advice to new students is to not be intimidated by perceived discipline boundaries. While architecture can be explored entirely through architecture courses, what makes it really interesting is when other fields and areas of interest and disciplines inspire and drive the evolution of buildings and spaces.”
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