Guest Blog: How Parni Found her Feet at Dyer-Grimes Architecture

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This week’s post comes from Parniyan Salari, a student of Architecture at the University of East London who recently finished her first year with a prize-winning portfolio. As she prepares for her second, she reflects on the three months she spent here at Dyer-Grimes Architecture.

I started my internship at Dyer-Grimes Architecture with an interest in architecture and left with a love for it.

It was 2013 and my first year of university was fast approaching. Before being consumed by my studies, I wanted to experience a working practice first hand, both to inform my education and – with a long, hard road ahead of me – make sure that being an architect was truly for me.

I applied to DGA because I’ve always believed it’s better to be the best at one thing than mediocre at many. I saw this same belief in their focus on residential projects; it showed vision, a clear direction and confident expertise and I hoped would rub off on me.

Luckily, John and his team gave me a warm welcome into their office and for the next three months I got to see the true life of architects.

My first goal was showing that I could work hard and make myself valuable however possible. I started with basic administrative work while I observed the workings of the office. Unsurprisingly, everyone was very busy as they worked hard, met clients and dealt with deadline pressure.

What did surprise me was how willing the team was to help me. Even when I had ten or more questions (which I often did), they were always happy to share their advice and knowledge.

Over time I proved myself and was trusted with more responsibilities and gained deeper insight into their process. I spoke with clients, pored over plans and visited sites where I could see architecture in action. Then in whatever precious time they could spare I received training in InDesign, SketchUp and how to interpret CAD plans – all before even starting university.

Though my education was just beginning, I could see theirs never ended. Most lunch breaks people would have their noses in books and magazines about architecture, keeping up with the scene and searching for inspiration.

For all the hard work and pressure the passion at DGA was clear to see. Seeing the team in action only made me want to push myself further, to study seriously so I could hopefully reach their level.

I left the internship more sure than I had ever been of my path. I started university with a generous head start, equipped with skills and confidence that may have otherwise taken months to develop. Instead of just theorising and reading books, I had seen the real world and wanted more than ever to be a part of it.

I urge all my friends studying architecture and anyone else with an interest to build a strong portfolio and apply to an internship like mine. In just three months I gained life changing experience and insight that can’t possibly be gained through other means.

My first year ended with me at the top of my class along with a Year 1 Portfolio Prize Award. As for the future, I hope with hard work and passion I can continue my success and earn my place as a professional architect.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone at Dyer-Grimes Architecture,


Parni contributed to her year’s Willow Bird Hide project, which won the Sustainable Stand Award at Ecobuild 2014, the world’s biggest even for sustainable design, construction and the build environment. Read about it here at the UEL website.