Essay by Finn LeSieur

Finn LeSieur won the $1,000 Schirmer Scholarship in 2023.

From the time I was 10 years old and first accompanied my interior designer mother on a visit to the construction site of a client’s new home, I have been fascinated with architecture. On that visit, what at first seemed like a boring parcel and a newly laid foundation, suddenly took on new meaning when my mother unrolled the home’s blueprints and showed me how the lines drawn by the architect were the key to understanding the curved walls, dramatic entryways, and soaring ceilings that would soon be emerging as work on the house progressed. Mesmerized, I begged my mother to return again and again to that construction site, and I observed with awe how the architect’s vision was transformed from ink on a page to something physical and real. A spark was lit, and soon I was filling a sketchbook with my own rudimentary architectural designs. As my mom moved on to other projects, I continued to tag along and, as the years went by, my fascination only grew. By the time I started high school, I had pored over hundreds of blueprints, filled dozens of sketchbooks with design ideas, and spent hours studying the works of architects like Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, and Zaha Hadid. The deeper I dove, the more I understood architecture’s unique potential to transform communities and leave a lasting influence on society. Fueled by this recognition, during my junior year of high school I applied for a summer internship at one of California’s leading international firms, MVE Architects. Impressed by my resume and design portfolio, MVE made me the youngest intern in the history of their firm. While at MVE, I learned computer drafting techniques, developed important presentation skills, and enhanced my understanding of how a thriving architecture firm can combine financial viability with positive community impact. My time at MVE solidified my passion and made it clear that architecture was the career I wanted to pursue. In the fall of 2023, I will be attending Princeton University, where I plan to major in architecture and begin my formal academic study of architectural theory, advanced building technologies, and three-dimensional structural modeling. Additionally, Princeton’s liberal arts-based curriculum will allow me to take classes outside my major to deepen my understanding of the economic, environmental, and technological issues shaping our world and better prepare me for an architectural career that makes a meaningful global impact. During my summers, I plan to continue interning at prestigious architecture firms, fortifying my academic training with the hands-on professional training necessary to attain my architect’s license. Upon graduation, with my license secured, I aspire to secure a position at a top international architecture firm, where I can immerse myself in the kind of globally impactful projects that have fueled my dreams. While my ultimate goal is to start my own firm and personally spearhead projects around the world, I will never forget the moment when my mother unrolled that first blueprint for me. The spark she lit that day is now a fire burning hot and bright, fueling my work ethic and ambition. I cannot wait to see which corners of the globe that fire will lead me to and discover what kind of impact my passion for architecture can have on the world.


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