by Ashley Howard, UM junior and Meadowlark extern The University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning provides an externship program in which students have the opportunity to visit architectural firms from across the country during the week of Spring Break. Since I have a great personal interest in sustainable residential design, I was ecstatic to learn that I was assigned to visit with my first choice, Meadowlark Builders. Over the course of the week, I gained valuable insight regarding the many aspects of the architectural profession. I was actively engaged in the experience and assisted with both the administrative side of the business as well as taking measurements in the field. I was also given the opportunity to observe many meetings, where I was exposed to both the internal culture of the company and its external relationships with clients. It was through attending these meetings that I was able to see that the architect’s most valuable tool is communication. By using a collaborative process in all aspects of the business, the Meadowlark team is able to produce the solutions necessary to meeting its clients’ needs. Establishing strong, friendly relationships with its clients also enables Meadowlark to realize its clients’ dreams, working with them from the initial design to the finished product. Since every project is different, each comes with its own set of challenges; however, communication is the key to learning along the way and delivering the best outcome. The Meadowlark team takes great care in the work that it does. Due to the close connection they maintain with clients, the team does not just build homes, it creates an experience for others to enjoy, and communication is what allows this all to happen. In turn, everyone involved is gratified by the work, which is produced together. Because of this, I am even more excited for my future in design, where I, too, can have such an enormous, positive impact on many people’s lives. Thanks to the Meadowlark team for a great experience!