Blending Design and Construction

By Barbara Gutierrez

Blending Design and Construction

By Barbara Gutierrez
Graduating from the School of Architecture, Englander Owen Berry wants to strengthen the connection between design and construction.

Owen Berry likes to work with his hands. Born in Doncaster, England, and raised on Florida’s west coast, this University of Miami student has not wasted any time achieving his goal of blending his love of building with that of designing.

He graduates with a 3.8 G.P.A., a Bachelor of Architecture degree from UM’s School of Architecture (SoA), and already has a job at L.M. Consultants in Atlanta as an architectural associate.

Berry’s two brothers back in England are engineers and his father rebuilds 1930s antique motorcycles. “So we have had hands-on culture in my family for many years,” he said.

Drawn to both architecture and building construction, he was attracted to the small classes within SoA, where he could build relationships with the professors. Berry knew that he wanted to be a consultant who could bridge the gap between architecture and engineering.

“There is a little disconnect between the architectural design and the construction environment,” he said. “I wanted to learn as much as I can about both fields.”

So he took classes in both fields, but also honed his skills with a Furniture Design Class that taught him how to manage his expectations and his time. His internships also helped him to develop an expertise in how to oversee entire projects. While at Brillhart Architecture in Miami, Berry worked with different kinds of technologies, creating publication drawings, models, and furniture prototypes.

For three and a half years, he also managed the SoA’s Digital Fabrication Lab, where his administrative duties included scheduling student workers, monitoring projects and ordering materials, among others. He also streamlined the process of submitting student projects by putting everything online.   

That kind of ingenuity and hard work impressed many of his professors.

“Owen is one of those rare students who quickly assesses a task or topics, digests and prepares the action steps necessary, and then goes two steps beyond,” said Wyn Bradley, lecturer and director of special programs at SoA. “All the while, he helps to raise the entire class, not just his own project. His presence and leadership at the University, at the School of Architecture and in the student body will be missed.”

In his last semester, Berry designed an independent course to complete his “micro-thesis” by building an ergonomic chair customized for one individual. Using 3D technology and scanners, he is fashioning the chair from maple plywood for SoA lecturer Germane Barnes.

"Owen is a wonderful student and I have been fortunate enough to teach him in visualization and studio courses where he displayed a strong desire to improve and excel,” said Barnes. “His service to the School of Architecture has been invaluable.”

While at UM, Berry has been academically active but has enjoyed his time off tremendously. A member of Student Government and a brother of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, he was tapped in 2015 into Iron Arrow, regarded as UM’s highest honor, and served as chief of the society for the past year.

Berry will receive the SoA Faculty Award for Student Service.