Bill Putman '00
I live and work in Washington, DC. I've been here for the most part since graduating W&L in 2000. I received my Masters in Architecture from Catholic University in 2007 and have been working at small, primarily residential oriented, architecture firms since. I'm currently at Dynerman Architects.
Anthropology/sociology and architecture really aren't that far off from each other. In fact, the former should inform the later. It took a year or two of grad school to realize that architecture is really about creating spaces that allow for people to interact with each other. That's when it became really interesting to me - imagining how people will use a space and providing the freedom of use for a space, rather than dictating when and how they should use it. My master's thesis differed from many of my classmates, in that it wasn't about finding a building typology and designing it. Instead, I took an ethnographic approach that explored the idea of marginalized people in society and how they are able to float between the different worlds they live in. This was made into a project by following and recording street musicians (buskers) in the New York City subway system and designing an architectural system that would enhance their performances without changing how they interacted with their audience.
It's not easy to transfer that same thinking into the work I do now. I work on 2-3 projects at a time, usually with one person or a couple as the client. It's an intimate relationship. I get to know the clients fairly well over the course of a project. It's hard not to think that architecture is an elitist profession that caters to only a few. I've been interested in how that changes, how Architecture can be available to anyone.