At WRNS, it’s not uncommon for someone to pull a beer off the keg and turn around to witness custom trees being inserted carefully into a model situated precariously upon a workbench commonly mistaken for a kitchen counter. Conversation picks up. Others join. More beers happen. Wine gets pulled off the shelf. And we have a gathering. While we make actual plans sometimes, we’re mostly an informal group. It’s hard to get people to meet, let alone form some kind of committee. In many ways, we still operate like a little shed, only we keep busting out our walls to fit more people.

Russ Sherman, our resident “coach,” a vehement speaker with a Long Island accent, is usually part of the shenanigans. As is Ed Kim, affectionately nicknamed the “velvet hammer” for his quiet thwap! of attention to detail. It was at these kinds of informal gatherings, and through their leadership on a variety of projects, that Russ and Ed recognized the need for a mentorship program at WRNS, something loose and organic that would engage our great people, while still being “of” WRNS. 

Enter WRNS U: while taking less experienced staff under their wings, and encouraging other leaders in the firm to do the same, Russ and Ed started offered learning experiences focused on craft, project delivery and licensure. 

Russ Sherman, leading a recent WRNS U tour of Mission Bay

Over the years, WRNS U has become an umbrella for into different events, meetings, and focus areas, led by various people looking to learn and connect. These include:

Current program organizers: Daniel Johnson, Hattie Stroud and Prairna Gupta.

SkillSHARE was started with the idea of getting staff together on a regular basis to share ideas, innovations and happenings around current projects. It quickly morphed into an after-hours social with discussion centered on technology, studio culture, architectural discourse, and professional practice. Monthly discussions during year 1 included Google Docs, Competition Trends, BlueBeam, Single Play Roof System, Core & Shell vs Tenant Improvement, and Rendering Aesthetics & Technical Implementation (the wheels came off a little at this one).

During 2015, SkillSHARE morphed to a quarterly format. Presentations have included a "works in progress" on our new Integrated Medical Office Building at El Camino Hospital, a discussion of our community based initiatives, and a dialogue with writer David Ross Sheer who shared ideas from his book, The Death of Drawing.

SkillSHARE started with the simple idea of getting the office together on occasion, and quickly turned into an anticipated and culturally stimulating part of our studio.

Computation Group
Current program organizers: Jason Halaby and Brian Washburn

This Informal group shares ideas and creates tools with scripting, coding, parametric modeling, and anything related to computational thinking in architecture. Topics have included Dynamo, Oculus Rift, Grasshopper, Adobe Premier and drones. MT sent this to Jason for review.

Current Program organizers: Wesley Wong and Jon Kershner

This program is intended to educate the WRNS staff through field trips for “observing” various locations and topics of interest. Whether walking tours around the city or visits to Design/Build sub-contractor facilities, we're learning more about current means and methods of construction  and finding new ways to incorporate innovative ideas into our design.

Sketch by architect Jenny Guan

Future Programs
Program organizers: WRNS people

Anyone at WRNS Studio can create a new program for like-minded people to come together and share their experiences, ideas, and knowledge.