An Unexpected Adventure

June 20, 2009
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So I woke up this morning and hustled my way down to the airport to catch my flight, only to be delayed due to “mechanical problems,” but to my surprise I wasn’t alone. One of my classmates was unexpectedly on the same flight. We waited for about 5 hours before they finally got the plane in working order and then off we were to Amsterdam. Problem was that both of us had missed our connections by then, but the airline was nice and gave us accommodations for the night, which left us with a few hours to explore the city.

Downtown Amsterdam is only about 15 minutes by train from the airport, so it was pretty convenient. Keep in mind that the only thing I really knew about Amsterdam was that it had really cool row houses and canals running through the city. As we walked around window shopping took on a whole new meaning. I realize the whole city’s not like the redlight district, much like there’s more to Las Vegas than the strip, but it was a whole different world compared to what I was used to. A fun afternoon at any rate.


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Retracing My Steps: Part 4 – Parc Guell

June 19, 2009
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Decided to spend my last afternoon in Barcelona at Parc Guell. It really ended up being a nice afternoon. I spent a little more time soaking in Gaudi and met up with a nice lady who sold me some jewelry that I think my wife will like a lot (fingers crossed!). My walk took me back to a couple of days ago when we talked about Frank Ghery. Some of Gaudi’s work doesn’t really speak to me stylistically, but the fact that he was able to make it happen is just incredible. A lesson I hope to learn as I make my way as an architect.

The class met up at Santa Caterina for one last meal together. It was pretty good. Having eaten so much pork since I’ve been here I decided to go with a vegetarian dish, which was delish, but then a friend gave me a bite of her suckling pig and I about died. It was the best bite of pig ever! If I ever get back there I’m getting it. We all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Viva la Barcelona!

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San Sebastian

June 18, 2009
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We rounded up our two day trip with some fun in San Sebastian. Unlike Bilbao, I though San Sebastian was a really interesting city. It was very subtle though, and I like that. Subtlety is a way of rewarding those that pay attention. Obviously not the best day for taking pictures, but a great experience none the less.

We visited the Kursal Centre by Rafael Moneo. It’s a really sweet music hall right on the coast. The inside was great, but if you skip down toward the end of the post and you’ll see a picture of it lit up at night which really added a new dimension to it. The windows also really frame the coast in an interesting way.

Our next and final stop was two installations of Eduardo Chillida’s sculptures. They are all quite interesting. They pose questions of spacial continuity and order that I think architects ought to do more. For me it was more about implied space, and that intriques me quite a bit. His drawings are pretty amazing too if you look them up. After that we went down to the historic district and had some of the most amazing food I’ve ever had. Not fancy places like Les Cols, but it was great and there was an atmosphere unlike any other place I’ve been. Really too bad it was such a short trip, but I’m sure I’ll be coming back sometime.

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June 17, 2009
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Today is the first day of a two day excursion to the north coast of Spain. We spent most of the day in Bilbao, and what I mean by that is that we spent most of the day in the Guggenheim. I don’t mean any disrespect to the city itself, but there’s nothing about it that sets itself apart from any other Spanish town we’ve been through other than the huge sculpture in the middle of it. Having said that I don’t think the Guggenheim would have the same effect if it wasn’t interacting with this quaint little city.

Most of my thoughts today revolved around Gehry himself. It seems to me he’s a guilty pleasure for most architects. They poke fun in public, but behind closed doors they are in awe. Not necessarily because they think his buildings are so amazing, but because they wish they could get clients to spend exorbitant amounts of money to feed their creative whims. That’s the one thing I think you take away from a guy like that, the idea we’re not as constrained as we think we are. I think he also reminds us that architecture doesn’t have to be so serious all the time. So for what it’s worth, enjoy!

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June 16, 2009
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We took the train to Olot early this morning. The first thing on the agenda was to see the office FOA (Foreign Office Architects). One of the principals showed us around the office and had a great conversation with us in their conference room. They do a lot of great work and it was nice to see first hand the environment where all of that gets produced.

We then went to have one of the best meals I’ve ever had at Les Cols. The restaurant is a rehabbed historic building designed by FOA and it was pretty amazing. The restaurant made special accommodations for us as a student group and gave us a discounted rate of 20 euros a person.

The restaurant is also a hotel of sorts with really expensive outdoor rooms, but again quite impressive. Nothing like you would expect in the states.

We spent the last part of the day wandering through a remote part of town that had some stunning landscapes. We ended up enjoying it a little too long and some of us missed the bus ride home, mainly due to an incompetent taxi service, but the few that got left behind caught a train just a short while after us, so it worked out.

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Last Day In Studio

June 15, 2009
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Today was a last chance to get together and go over what we’ve been doing. I’ll admit it went a little long for my taste, but it was really interesting to see what everyone had been hiding away in their sketchbooks. Even though it was a great night, it was kind of sad in a way; made me realize that we were that much closer to leaving. I can’t complain, its been a pretty amazing trip.

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Retracing My Steps: Part 3 – Sert and Water Magic

June 14, 2009
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Another day trying to find something new in someplace I´d already been. It´s pretty easy actually. Like a good movie, a good piece of architecture gets richer with multiple viewings. I went inside Sert´s museum and onto the roof. The light windows were shut unfortunately, but the space on the roof, as well as the view of the city were remarkable. It was a nice day to find some shade on the roof and sketch.

The only other event on the agenda for today was to catch my last water show at Placa de Espana. I´ve seen it twice before, but I enjoyed it too much to pass up one last chance. It was magical, enjoy.

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Retracing My Steps: Part 2 – Gaudi and 1 New Adventure

June 13, 2009
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Got to Sagrada Familia early this morning to hike up the spires, which was pretty amazing. I can´t wait to come back when it´s finished, but even as it is, it gives you great views of the city and the ocean, as well as of the building itself.

An additional treat of the day was to forge our way up the metro to what we thought was a demolished archery range built for the olympics. Part of the complex isn´t there anymore, but the competition field is still there and has been turned into a soccer (futbol, whatever) field. It was designed by Miralles. The interesting thing to me was to see so many things that came forth in his later work, other than the fact that the thing is just amazing. Enjoy.

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Retracing My Steps: Part 1 – Mies and Miralles

June 12, 2009
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This is the first of a few days to go back and dig a little deeper and soak in some of the amazing things we´ve done and seen. First stop was the Barcelona Pavillion, and I found some interesting ways to photograph the building that I hadn´t thought of before. Added an extra layer of intrigue for me.

Then a few of us went to Santa Caterina to attempt to get a better view of the roof. We met some nice architects that let us onto their terrace above the west side of the Market that gave us an amazing view of the roof. We then went and did the same thing from the north to get a straight on view from the roof. We had to terrorize the residents there, and some of them had to get dressed from their sunbaithing, but we eventually got what we wanted. Really amazing.

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Gaudi, Miralles, Everything! A Hitchhikers Guide to Architecture

June 11, 2009
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Hitting the last few major projects in the Barcelona area, we bussed our way out to Colonia Guell to see the final Gaudi project of the trip. The project was actually an industrial town with the church being the crowning piece. Unfortunately the industry suffered and construction on the church stopped, having completed only the crypt, which is what is photographed below. I´m not sure what it would´ve looked like finished, but I´m actually ok with it staying just the way it is.

We then went to Miralles´Igualada Cemetery. It is and will probably stay incomplete, but it´s still an amazing project. Has many classic Miralles elements with a few unexpected geometrical moves that I found very delighting.

We found Miralles´grave, which is adorned by a likeness of one of his 1955 sketches. The tomb is covered with signatures from various people and now from me, I didn´t think anyone would mind.

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I'm a young aspiring architect. This blog is a record of my journey in this great profession.