Riley MacPhee | Environmental Analysis

From: Seattle, WA; currently live in NYC

Pomona Days: Class of 2011 | Environmental Analysis

Current Employment: Designer at SHoP Architects

Past Employment // Education:

  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Carpentry from Seattle Central Community College (2013)
  • Master of Architecture (M.Arch) from Columbia University (2016)


I got into architecture and design through an interest in environmental studies, which narrowly beat out first theater, then creative writing, and then philosophy as my major at Pomona. In grad school at Columbia the three-year program is made up of about half those us of with liberal arts degrees and otherwise varied backgrounds, and half people with four-year undergraduate architecture degrees. It makes for an absolutely overwhelming first year where you have to play catchup learning new programs, history, contemporary architecture, and of course, some amount of design sense. Ultimately though, we all graduate with the same credentials, and the people with 7-years of architectural study behind them can start to look a little one-dimensional. 

I very much believe that broad interests make you better at whatever you wind up pursuing, so take the time at Pomona to explore some things that seem interesting, and don't feel like you have to settle on a track. 

Let me know if you're interested in architecture and design, or really anything having to do with the building trades. There's no one path, so I'm not sure if I have "advice", but I'd be happy to share some of my perspective, review portfolio work, or whatever else might be helpful!