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Surgene Troost

Tell us about where you work, what you do, and what you’re working on right now.
I am an architect and associate at Populous in our Americas Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. We are a predominantly sports and entertainment multidisciplinary design firm, and my work focuses primarily on elite athlete training facilities at the collegiate and professional levels. I am currently finishing up the final design and documentation for the Carolina Panthers Training Facility and Headquarters located in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Tell us about your favorite or most important project.
Being that I do a lot of work and research around elite athlete training, I would have to say my current project working with the Carolina Panthers is one of my favorites. When it opens it will be one of the most innovative sports training facilities in the world. As a younger architect, having the opportunity to work on such an incredible project has been an amazing learning experience.

Must-have desk snack?
Not sure about a snack, but being from New Orleans, I always have to have my hot sauce nearby.

How do you think architecture and design can or should influence the world?
At Populous our core philosophy is that we design the places where people love to be together. I think this concept applies to all architecture and design. Whether it is a small family gathering at home or 60,000 people coming together to support their favorite team, architecture is the vessel that facilitates and supports those relationships and experiences. And the best architecture goes beyond just housing those experiences and adds to and enhances them.

What do you do when you’re not on the clock?
I am a big fan of travel and music. I love any opportunity to see somewhere new or experience a new culture. And I am always looking for a chance to go see some live music.

What was your most memorable course or project you completed as a student?
I was lucky enough to be able to study abroad in Helsinki, and that was an amazing experience. We were taught by the local firm ALA, who does some fantastic work, and our project that semester was a sports hall. At the time I did not know I would end up in sports architecture, but perhaps that was a bit of foreshadowing. Between the studio environment, Alto University’s world-class woodshop, and getting to travel and experience Finnish architecture firsthand, I could not have asked for a better experience.

What did you learn as an architecture student that you’d be most lost without?
I think the best thing architecture school teaches you is how to be nimble and how to learn. Whether it is picking up new software or learning a new building type, as architects we have to be able to quickly adapt to the changing dynamics and still be able to deliver a quality service to our clients.

Favorite Sam Fox School/WashU memory that you can share with the general public.
I would have to say it was all the great places I was able to travel with my studio classmates. Whether it was seeing some of the beautiful Finnish chapels in Helsinki, or traveling to Marfa and spending a week in a small adobe with 12 classmates, or flying to Florence and catching the midnight train to Rome and seeing the Colosseum at 3 am, these were all experiences I will never forget and that helped shape the person and designer I am today.

What advice would you give to our students?
Never stop learning. Every new class, new internship, or new project is an opportunity to learn something new. You never know when something you learned will open new opportunities, especially in the design profession. I cannot tell you how many times a seemingly random experience has resulted in a professional opportunity that I would not have gotten otherwise. I am constantly looking for projects or workshops that will give me the chance to expand my knowledge.

What is your favorite thing about St. Louis?
My favorite thing would have to be all the festivals and events that occur. Whether it was St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras down in Soulard or Cinco de Mayo on Cherokee Street, we always had a great time and enjoyed good food and drinks. If you have not been to these events, make sure to do so before you leave.

Alumni work

Exterior facade of the Carolina Panthers Training Facility and Headquarters. The irregularly shaped building has a gray roofline that branches off to two triangular sections. Lots of windows are featured on the facade of the multi-story building, which is surrounded by trees and walkways, as well as football practice fields to the left.

Early evening photo of the exterior facade of the Carolina Panthers Training Facility and Headquarters in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Early evening photo of the exterior facade of the New England Revolution Training Facility in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The multi-level building includes skinny, multi-level vertical windows on the left side and a larger bank of windows near the entrance. A small parking lot is in front of the building, surrounded by green grass and young trees.

Interior view of the UTSA Roadrunner Athletic Center of Excellence, featuring numerous rows of locker stalls in white with skinny overhead lights and the school logo on the ceiling.