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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Alumni

UH alumna revisits College of Architecture


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The expansive entrance hall of the College of Architecture was abuzz with anticipation because of a lecture from a UH alumna who now co-owns an architecture firm — in France.

Laurence Krupa, who graduated UH in 1992, and her husband came to Houston to make a presentation displaying their architectural work in France on Monday.

Her story with the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture goes back a long time. Originally, from Belgium, she arrived to the U.S. at the age of 10 and originally planned to enroll at Texas A&M University. However, after stopping by UH, she met the dean of architecture and applied to be a Cougar instead.

During her time at UH, she participated in a student exchange program and got to study in Paris. There, she met her husband, Stéphane Giet.

Together they formed Giet Architecture, based in Giet’s hometown of Bordeaux, France. They started their own firm after deciding that they didn’t want to work for somebody else and had the resources for the startup.

During the lecture at the College of Architecture’s theater, Krupa and Giet presented several of their completed projects and explained the thoughts that went into the planning.

Giet Architecture has primarily focused on municipal contracts, such as renovating parks and hospitals, building laboratory spaces and military facilities.

The majority of Giet Architecture’s work has to do with places of education with specialization in day care centers. Other projects include expanding or renovating college buildings.

Krupa mentioned Renzo Piano as her main inspiration. Piano is an Italian architect famous in Houston for designing the Menil Collection museum building.

“All of (Piano’s) projects are completely different,” Krupa said. “Each problem requires a different solution.”

Giet and Krupa’s designs emphasize the use of open spaces and integration of natural lighting. A common feature for kids’ facilities is providing space for artistic expression.

The Giet Architecture website states that “a project must always enhance a site, a landscape, but should never enforce architecture out of context.” The duo apply that principle to match their designs with the existing surroundings.

“You go and look at the place, take photographs and go: ‘This should look like it’s been there forever,’” Krupa said.

The firm participated in many architectural contests all across France, and its designs won several of them.

After having success for over a decade, Krupa returned to U.S. to share her experience with current architecture students. This lecture is first in the series Krupa and Giet are planning to do in several architecture colleges across U.S, but Krupa was excited to return to her alma mater and reconnect with friends from her college days.

“It’s like a big party,” Krupa said. “Like a big reunion.”

She also commended the professors for embracing the students’ creativity and the University for providing the exchange program opportunities, which she credited for her successful career.

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