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Architecture graduate hopes to build a future in New York

After receiving four job offers, Katya Garcia, a Foote Fellow, will begin work for the Robert A.M. Stern Architects firm in New York City.
Katya Garcia

Graduate Katya Garcia has taken a position with an architectural firm in New York City.

The University of Miami campus was not strange terrain for Katya Garcia. As a youngster, she spent many hours visiting her mom, Adina Sanchez- Garcia, who teaches English composition at the University, and enjoying various Homecoming events.

Garcia developed her love for architecture by way of art. As a child, she would cherish all the art supplies her father purchased for her and her sister. She would happily spend time drawing figures and animals.

“In high school, I chose to study architecture. I really enjoyed it and decided that is what I wanted to do,” said the 22-year-old.

But it wasn’t until she met some University recruiters at her high school, Design and Architecture Senior High School (DASH), that she realized the many offerings of the School of Architecture.

Her years at the University have been busy ones. Garcia became a student ambassador for the School of Architecture and provided tours for prospective students and mentored incoming students. She was also a teaching assistant for an introductory design class.

She graduates this week with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and minors in business management and art.

The daughter of Cuban American parents, Garcia felt it was important to explore her cultural heritage a bit more. She became an active member of the student organization Federacion de Estudiantes Cubanos (FEC) and participated in all the events highlighting the group’s cuisine and music.

She also became involved in the Homecoming Executive Committee as marketing chair and helped to promote all the events surrounding the yearly celebration and football game that brings hundreds of alumni back to campus.

“It was so exciting to stand at the Fate Bridge and watch the homecoming fireworks with all those that worked hard to make it happen,” she said.

In class and as a Foote Fellow, she excelled at her work.

She cites her first-semester design studio professor, Ricardo Lopez, as having taught her many of the skills she would need to be a good designer and architect.

“I thought coming from an architecture high school I would be way ahead of everyone,” she said. “But I learned so much thanks to him and found a style that I like, which is more traditional structures.”

Lopez remembers her in that first design studio as someone quiet and hardworking.

“Katya came with a unique background in that she already had a foundation from DASH, the local design and architecture high school in the Design District,” he said. “She already had a certain confidence in the design process that allowed her to flourish and test ideas right from the start,” he continued.

“She has a wonderful combination of architectural rigor in composition and order, which is reflected through her drafting skills, and also an artistic expressiveness, an openness that I think is rooted in her time at DASH and her continued work in painting,” he added. 

Lopez offered her an internship opportunity at his firm Florez Lopez Architects, where she worked with him beginning in her third year. “It gave me the knowledge of what it was like to work at a firm,” she said.

She learned how to refine her drawings by adding more details to different parts of a structure—such as refining the window moldings and refashioning a roof from a simple gable structure to a more complicated hip roof.

She would also build models and received one-on-one instruction on her work.

“I like the creativity of architecture but also the practical side which involves math,” she said. Her hard work has paid off; she received four job offers and decided to work for Robert A.M. Stern Architects, a firm in New York City.

“I am very excited to work at an architecture firm,” she said. “My dream is being able to see something I designed being built and knowing that I can sign off as a licensed architect.”