Berlin, i love you.

We came to Berlin with a mission:  To discover cool again.

Florence was getting old.  The slowly disintegrating renaissance relics were weighing ever more heavily on our eyes and the stuffy streets full of fashionably stuffy people and asian tourists were increasingly becoming a joke and a pity.

The simple solution became clear.  A little r & r somewhere, fittingly, the opposite of what we had become so accustomed to and tired of, would do us all a big favor.  Yes, Berlin had a lot to offer a member of the contemporary world, deprived of that life source that only a big-time city can provide.  First, there was the Berlinale, an international film festival in the glamorous spotlight of movie stars, critics, and film lovers the world over.  The likes of Scorsese, Banksy, Franco, and Russian snow queens (just to name a few of our favorites) meandered about the film goers.  A long break in the Hyatt Hotel Cafe was bound to land us a citing of some high profile celebrity, we were told, but our agenda had other plans.

Like the Berlin architecture.  Pulverized to a pulp in many places by the second world war, the city experienced a rebirth, and I'd be damned to say they might be the lucky ones.  Project after project we passed proclaimed a new hope and a dream, reigning clearly as the Cathedral bells, for a new life and a new Germany.  I gladly joined in song.  But it wasn't just an architecture of guilt, no, something else drove these lyrics.  Something more profound, more sustainable.

A ride on the underground train proved most enlightening.  The Berliners are lovers of life, art, culture, and music, and yet by the look of 'em you would never know.  They act like genuine human beings, not the over-tamed yuppies and bourgeoisie one would expect to find in a cultural scene so alive I almost think I could throw a stick in the crowd and expect to hit a painter or a cellist.

Maybe it stems from Germany's pioneering past, with greats such as Walter Gropius and Mies Van der Rohe heading the subversive Bauhaus movement.  Revolutionary thinkers who paved the way for all of us nobodies to think what we think now.  Walking the displays of the Bauhaus Museum I felt for the first time in my life that I wanted to go back there to the decade of the 30s, just to soak up the atmosphere of the school and learn from the students as well as the faculty.  At the same time, it makes me feel like a good for nothing shmuck who hasn't a creative thought in his body.  How could their ideology be so relevant today? 

No, there's something about Berlin.  And with any luck I'll be back there soon, to discover more of it's secrets, it's unsolved puzzles, and find out for myself what really makes the city tick.  Why, really, are the people so friendly and a daily stroll there so dignified and comfortable?  Why can't I be there now?  Well, I'm what they call a idealist...and idealists never get their way.  They always have to gaze ahead at their vision never quite disappearing over the horizon.  But one day, when I run fast enough you bet I'll catch up.  Maybe it's Berlin and maybe another city I have yet to investigate.  But one thing is for sure...

I'm gonna get there.

Sigh, again.

Yesterday, I smelled the smell of spring.

Today, I ruined a drawing in my sketchbook because of stupid bleeding prismacolors.  It isn't the first time I've been so absent minded.

I guess you have to take the good with the bad.

Questioning the precedent.

I'm not sure that I believe in the concept of precedent studies, regardless, I was asked by my studio professor(s) to compile a study of previous architectural projects to present in class tomorrow.  Around five or so buildings would suffice.

So, here are images of my precedents.  None of them buildings.  Some more architectural than others.


There is a common theme of immersive, interactive environments.  The last image of the reactable is a bit redundant, but more specifically emphasizes how technology can be approached in the new mediatheque.  I think the beneficial aspect of precedents fills my head with inspiration, something I would do naturally, now it's just recorded on paper.  But studying other libraries prior to the design of our own library steps dangerously close to the copy and paste territory of ideas, as well as making me question the whole purpose of the design studio.  It should be a think lab, not a taste filter.

Here are links to the projects above >>>

Blind light
Experiencing the void
The Reactable

I'm gonna be famous.

Today I was interviewed by a reporter for Luna Negra, a student-produced magazine for writing and poetry.  This semester's theme is "The art around us".  The journalist was interviewing architecture majors for a story on how they view design and how it relates to the theme.  Not sure if this is allowed, but here is the unedited interview because I liked some points that were brought up.  Strangely, this is the third time in the past week I've had similar conversations.

Since it was on Skype chat, I just copied and pasted.


Ok, so tell me about how you chose to be in architecture? Or what is it you're planning to do with your major?
i chose architecture because i didn't choose it.  i think it chose me.  i remember being interested in design at a very young age, and sometime in middle school found out about architecture as an industry through a mentor of mine at my church.  he was graduating from osu at the time with his m.arch in architecture.
but i've always had a bizaare connection to "space" a general term.

That's what George said! He had a connection to space. So what do you specialize in with architecture...George said he's a futurist...a new term to me
george?  the fourth year?  cool!


haha, futurist is a great term.  one i would like to describe myself, but now i feel unoriginal. haha.
BUT it brings up a great point for me.  i'm very interested in science fiction, and have been since birth...basically.  i believe architecture IS science fiction in many ways.  for instance, any design is a prediction of the future, it's a fact impossible to get away from.  therefore, i believe science fiction, to be highly relevant in the way i design and approach architecture.
if that makes any sense...
but specialize...
i wouldn't say i specialize in any particular thing.  nor do i want to.  i like to keep an open mind about what architecture (or design) is and what it can be.  this could mean anything from a building to a spoon to a magazine.

interesting....So what are you doing in Italy? Is it related to architecture?

And are you enjoying your space there? 
kent state's college of architecture and environmental design (caed) has their own program here built into the curriculum.  it's a great thing for us architecture majors, because trying to do study abroad on our own would be impossible to fit in without getting behind.
the space different from the us.  much smaller, and colder.

So what have you learned there?
well...i'm taking a lot of classes about the renasaince.  this makes sense because florence is the birthplace of that movement.  many of my classes deal with the forces that shaped that movement with the real-life evidence to back up what we learn in class.  unfortunately, being a "futurist" i'm finding i can only be so inspired from this.  i don't know if it's wrong of me, but it's how i feel.
and of course there are the life lessons that go along with being in a new country...

of course :) 
How are you at italian?
really bad.  i didn't know a single word when i got here.  luckily, i'm taking a language class now so it's getting better.

Awww! Well you are learning!

So what inspires you about architecture? What draws you to it?

You mention being interested in since a young age...why have you stayed with it?
i think it's the possibility that i can see the world around me and make it better.  but it's one of those things that i can't explain why i'm like that specifically.

That's a beautiful answer. No one I has talked to has said that. Well put.
well, thank you.

Ur welcome!
This year's Luna Negra theme is the art around us. How do you think architecture relates to the art around us? What role does it serve as an art form do you think?
well, i think it's pretty obvious that architecture is all around us.  we live our lives in it and through it.  and i like to relate life as an art in and of itself.  so the two go very much hand in hand.  "beautiful" architecture allows one to live a beautiful life.  and it's everywhere.

Agreed. So you mentioned that you see it as a way that you can make the world better. Specifically, in what way? How do you envision it's possible? Maybe an example?
i think a lot of it is re-thinking the way architecture plays it role in this world.  a lot of things are taken as they are because that's the way they've always been.  so i think if we can re-considered the precedent, then maybe another way is better.  or more exciting.  or more economic.  or more efficient.  the list goes on.

Wow. It goes back to what you were saying about a spoon or magazine. You see, architecture isn't just in terms of a building, which I tend to think of it.

It can be an I-pad or a spoon to help someone with a missing thumb eat better.
I have to get out of my box
yes! you do!  haha.
i mean, architecture is such a generic term when you really think about it.  a building in a way is contradictionally (?) such a specific thing.

Is there something you want to build/design that hasn't been done yet? What's out there you think needs to be accomplished?
i don't know if i've ever thought about a specific typology that i would like to design.  maybe self-sustaining homes on the lunar surface.
it really could go anywhere.

That's a good idea...your're right
Another arch student said something really interesting to me.... she said arch is all around us, we can't escape it. it can't be ignored like a photograph or a flower. What do you think of that?
i think she's right.  a lot of people will say that architecture isn't important, all we really need is shelter, anything beyond is pretentious or frivulous.  architecture is one of the rare art forms that jumps boundaries when you consider the everyday person.  most art is kept in museums or galleries, but architecture is beyond that.  i mean, you need architecture even to house art so....i don't know.  i think that says something though.

Yeah..very cool.
Arch majors have such an interesting perspective in the world.
I feel like I'm underappreciating my shack apartment or something
haha.  i mean think about how your apartment controls and dictates how you live and what you do when you are there.  it's kinda mind-blowing when you really consider it.

True! So are you getting your bachelor of science in arch? What's next for you after Italy? Any big plans for the summer?
yes.  i am getting my b.s. arch degree.  after italy, i wanted to stay in europe and intern, but reality is really biting me in the butt right now.  i think i have to come home and save up some money for next academic year.  a let down..

I hope it works out for you. If you can do it take advantage while you can.
thanks!  i really hope so.

So, I think I've asked you everything I've wanted. Is there anything you want to add? Maybe we didn't touch on something you think is important?
hmmmm.....i don't know.  i just think it's important for people to understand the implications of architecture.  how it can transform this world, and how we all have to deal with the decisions made by a very few people (as in realized building projects).  architecture is a field relevant for everyone.

Atlantis exists.

My first impression of Florence:  make-believe city where everything revolves around the past.  Essentially, stuck in a rut.  First impressions of Venice:  make-believe city due to the belief that places like this don't really exist.  I mean, floating cities, waterbuses, grand canals, numerous pedestrian bridges.  If Atlantis exists, this is it.  It hasn't been lost to the sea, yet.

I don't even know if Venice can be called a city.  It is its own typology.

We went to Venice because they were celebrating the Carnival of Venice (essentially Mardi-Gras), world-famous for it's tradition of elaborate costumes and masks.   We saw some things relating to the festival, but almost every single organized event we planned to attend, we were late for.  So, I missed out on a lot.  The opening ceremony, a parade on the canals of Lido, another performance, and another parade in Piazza San Marco.  I'm sure they were nice.

Still, coming to Venice I wasn't sure what to expect.  I remember as a child thinking that the city was probably the nicest place in Europe and it was the only place on this continent I wanted to go.  I liked it because of the canals.  But that childlike wonderment is still relevant for me today.  (Just think if you replaced the streets of any other city with rivers.  It's really an incredible alternative.)  The city has a reputation of being horribly overrun with the point that Italians don't even live there anymore.  I don't know if that's true, but I found it odd that on an island that hasn't had the ability to expand for hundreds of years, just off the main pedestrian thoroughfares existed almost total isolation from the (worse than, seriously) sardine-like piazzas of the carnival events.  The city is mostly comprised of small alleys and courtyards where no one ventured.  (Even this is different than Florence.  The roads less taken here are still pretty crowded comparatively.)

I don't feel like writing....and there is a lot to say.  Damn.

The other important thing about Venice was the mix of modern and traditional architecture.  Oh it was beautiful.  Just this fact alone gave me the impression that Venice was a city less high-strung and more aware of the contemporary world.  The Calatrava bridge is a perfect example.  (physically anyway....the political aspect of the bridge isn't so enlightening.)  As well, I'll take a boat rather than a subway to get around a city anyday.  This form of transportation is exponentially more dignified than going underground and popping up in random places like moles.

We didn't go to any museums, or check out any tourist spots, which was also nice.  Just a beautiful weekend in Venice.  But I can't wait to go back in April with the school.

The floating city exists.



Chocolate festival in Florence this past weekend.  The best thing to happen in the city yet.  Hands down.

Mom, this is for you.  But, unless you come in March, you'll have to wait until May to find out its identity. 

It was a chocolate lover's paradise.  A tent in Santa Croce went up and was soon filled with booths from all over Italy representing different cioccolaterias.  Here's the website for the event, in Italian.  Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me to snap a few images.  All you need to know is it was amazing, you should be jealous, and I was quite content that night.  

Firenze, another fiera del cioccolato soon?