“I’m always thinking about how architecture affects people’s experiences in the city.”

Maggie Kleinman, got her start in architecture years before joining the two-year M.Arch program.


The New Jersey native was accidentally placed in an architecture class her freshman year of high school (“It was kind of like the class they just put people in,” she says) and hasn’t looked back. Her accidental placement turned into a four-year stint in the class filled with hard work and a fruitful relationship with her teacher.



Kleinman says her interest in the subject aligned with her creative childhood. She pushed her interest in art and architecture to College Park for the University of Maryland’s undergraduate baccalaureate program in architecture. After graduating in 2015, Kleinman applied to graduate school with the intention of deferring her admission to travel for a year. While interviewing for internships for the summer after graduation, she was offered a full-time job rather than a summer internship at Gensler Jr. & Associates, Inc. in downtown Washington, D.C. She decided to accept the offer instead of traveling and worked at Gensler for a year.


The newly minted college graduate tackled projects in areas ranging from master planning to aviation and got to work with smaller and larger teams. She says taking a year off to work instead of going straight back to school helped her “understand more of the real world of architecture.”



“The faculty perspective here at USC is very different,” Kleinman says, and she views that as one of the program’s strong points, opening her mind to what architecture is.

Just like many other students here at USC, Kleinman has expanded her interest in her field outside of everyday coursework. This includes building peer relationships during the long hours spent in studio and expanding her membership in GASA, a student-elected student organization that aims to represent the graduate student body in the school of architecture. As Kleinman is always trying to find more ways to get involved, she tasks future architecture students to do the same.


Now in her final semester, Kleinman has developed an interest in urbanism. “I’m always thinking about how architecture affects people’s experiences in the city.” Hailing from the East Coast, she “never felt really comfortable in NYC. It's so fast and there are so many people,” she says. But coming to LA made her realize that the hustle and bustle of the city aren’t all that bad. 

“Get involved, meet people, go do things. You’re in LA. There’s lots of architecture around you and there are tons of mentors and resources.” Kleinman found her mentor through the USC Architectural Guild Mentoring Program, which familiarizes architecture students with the practice of architecture through mentoring with local professionals.