Life + Arts Profile

A day in the life of an architecture student

Maria, the primary focus of the story, sits atop a ledge in front of the entrance to the College of Architecture and Design

Maria Noguera sits in front of the UH College of Architecture and Design I Courtesy of Architecture and Design School

For Hines College of Architecture and Design student Maria Noguera, day-to-day life is nothing short of hectic. 

As a third-year architecture student, working part-time, while juggling a full course load and serving as fraternity president, Noguera takes full advantage of the resources available through Hines College. 

“The College of Architecture and Design is unique on campus in that we are one of the few schools that offers a five-year program, which then allows you to apply for your architecture license rather than having to get a master’s,” Noguera said. 

She works for the Community Design Resource Center, an initiative started by Susan Rogers, a professor within the school. The initiative works on community and city development efforts, including a recent advisory project on the expansion of the Interstate 45 Highway with Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner. 

“We have also published books in the past including our latest publication called Floods which was centered around some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Houston after Harvey,” Noguera said. “Lately, we have also done some reporting on disparities in COVID testing and vaccine distribution in the city, and we developed a COVID-19 resource pack last year.”

After a day at work, Noguera takes to the studio, which she is required to do before she graduates. 

“Studios are the main bread and butter of our schedules,” Noguera said. “In-studio you could be focusing on anything like researching communities, developing floor plan and section drawings, learning how to 3D model the designs, or doing final production graphics to properly represent your ideas.”

On average, she spends about 15 hours in the studio for class. But, out of class, she estimates spending 40 hours a week minimum working on her studio projects. “For most, it is easier to keep up with the studio when you have friends going through the struggles with you,” Noguera said. 

Aside from her part-time job and coursework, Noguera is also president of the Clesithenes Chapter of Alpha Rho Chi on campus, a professional fraternity for architecture and the allied arts that focuses on professional development and interpersonal growth.

Noguera has been doing her best to keep the fraternity alive and engaging during the pandemic.

“We love doing both social and philanthropy events like our 24 gaming stream on Twitch last fall where we raised $800 for Texas Children’s Hospital to help with their COVID-19 costs,” Noguera said.

Members of the fraternity also started a podcast called, “Sorry I’m In Studiowhich gives insight into the perspective and lives of design students at UH. 

“On any given night we might meet to brainstorm ideas about episodes, different graphics for Instagram ads, or write a copy,” Noguera said. 

Noguera’s schedule seems hectic to most, but she genuinely enjoys keeping up with the fast-paced life she has. 

“While most people might look at my schedule and think I’m a madwoman for being a full-time student. (I also) work part-time, run a highly active student organization and work on creative projects like woodworking and furniture refurbishing, I genuinely love it,” Noguera said. “Design school has allowed me to not only develop my own feel for design but also apply it to reality.”

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