Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Friday, April 29, 2011

Every End is a New Beginning

Le Corbusier says, "A building is like a soap bubble... The outside is a result of the inside". During our final project, we studied facades and their interaction with the user. Most of the time, when we design the exterior is a result of the interior spaces. You design a plan and place walls, doors, and windows without fully understanding the exterior. This project forced us to forget the program, forget the interior spaces and take a classical facade and transform it. You have to ask yourself, what would the result of the spaces be if the facade was the first on the list in the design process? How would the interior spaces form around that?

In order to understand how to create our own facade, we had to analyze a classical one. This classical facade would be the foundation for our contemporary drawing. By understanding a classical facade and the reasoning behind the arches, looking at rhythms and patterns, and materials it becomes easier to grasp an understanding of some elements that a contemporary facade should contain.

They say that it is nearly impossible to teach contemporary architecture because we are in it. It is ever changing and constantly evolving. It is one thing that I find so fascinating about architecture. It is never the same. By using precedents from the past and new technologies of the future architecture is evolving right before our eyes. My studies in Rome helped to open my eyes to this evolution.

I guess it is like they say, all good things must come to an end. It feels like just a few weeks ago that we were getting off the airplane and wheeling our oversized bags of luggage over the cobblestones to get to our apartment. But nope... 4 months later and we are packing those oversized bags (probably even more oversized with all of my Italian "stuff" that needs to come home). It is a really strange feeling. I am really excited to come home but I am really going to miss Rome. From the caffe and cappuccini to the group bus trips with Eric and Marina. I feel like we have been in our own little world over here. Removed from all the chaos hecticness of being at school and even in the States. It was the perfect "break" from the monotony of classes and studio back at school. I have to say I will never forget this experience. It will live with me forever and I am looking forward to sharing this experience with future study abroaders and my family and friends when I get home.

I am sad to say but I think this will be my final blog post from Roma Italia. Thank you to everyone for all your support this semester. And a special thank you to our professors Eric Jenkins and Marina Kavelirek for all you have done for us this semester. It has been a life changing experience.

Take a look at this video created by two of the students in the program Kelly Corcoran and Katie Miller with the help of all of our pictures. 

Quick trip down memory lane...

First picture taken in Roma.
Our double helix staircase in the apartments.

Looking out upon the city atop the Wedding Cake Monument.

Accidental trip to Orvieto!

A.S. Roma Game!

Trevi Fountain.

History Class on Tiber Island.

Beautiful sunset near the Vatican

Roman Forum.

Inside the Duomo in Florence.

Rome "Mom" and "Dad"


Planned trip to Assisi

The whole gang.

Call to Prayer in Istanbul. We sketched, they prayed.

Spring Break in Deutschland (Germany)

"Small" beer in a Beer Garten in Germany.

Decided I'm getting my future Mercedes from here.

Family comes to Rome.

I will miss this the most.

Giolitti! The best Gelato in Roma.

Our Apartments...


Capri and Casa Malaparte

EUR Construction site tour.

Just hanging around at Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli.

Smile :)

Eric (EJ) and Marina.

How many Architects does it take to read a map???

Arrivederci Roma.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Way beyond Myself

How does one enter a space? What path does that person take to get to a desired destination? What is that desired arrival? Entry, Path, and Arrival. Three terms which are studied in architecture almost without even being studied. 

|Sketching on the steps of Casa Malaparte|


This past week, we took our third and final study trip to Southern Italy. Within the week we toured Naples, Capri, Pompeii, Stabia, and Sorrento. Each city was unique in its own. From the crazy taxi ride where we almost collided with a few cars and some people walking across the street to the lemoncello and meloncello sold all over the city of Sorrento. It was a unbelievable trip. Southern Italy had a different feeling than Rome and from our trip North. It is hard to explain but you could tell as you walked the streets that you were in a different part of the country. A view of the Mediterranean Sea might have had a lot to do with it. The views from almost everywhere were remarkable.

The highlight of the trip for me was the second day. On the second day, we took a ferry from Napoli to Capri. Capri is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. Right on the water, it is situated within the mountains. To get to the center of town you must take a Funiculare. This is a tram which takes you up the mountain. The center of town, filled with vibrant white shops, small little piazza's and beautifully paved sidewalks, was where we started the mile long hike out to Casa Malaparte.

Casa Malaparte, casa meaning house of Malaparte in italian, is a private residence of Curzio Malaparte. Malaparte was a writer who at one point was very popular with the Italian Facists in the late 1800's to early 1900's. He was popular until he wrote against the facists and was then imprisoned for his writing. After he was released from prison, he set out to look for a piece of land that could separate him from the people and ultimately from the government. He set his eye on Punta Massullo. A windy cliff on the isle of Lipari. The spot that he chose was absolutely forbidden but because of his history, and his claim that the location was difficult to get to and could not be seen from the main city center, he wins and the government allows him to build on the Punta. Malaparte hired architect Adalberto Libera to do the plans for the house. Once the main plans were drawn up, he fired Libera and took those plans and altered them himself. Keep in mind, Malaparte was a writer not an architect. The house was designed exactly how Malaparte wanted it to be designed with a strong connection between nature and the architecture.

I think what is so great about architecture is that it is all up to interpretation. Malaparte saw potential in the landscape he chose and he went for it. Others may have been weary of his decision and did not agree but he new what he wanted and went for it. Good architecture is never one sided. There is always a decision to make. Our professor, Eric Jenkins, tells us constantly to not be afraid. He tells us to go outside out comfort zone and not to let fear dictate our decisions. It is very rare that you will get everyone to agree when we design but think about how boring architecture would be without debate and different interpretations. A lot of times, it is the interpretations that make architecture what it is. The thing that interested me the most as we made our way to Casa Malaparte was this idea of entry path and arrival. At what point in the trip each of these terms occurred is up to the individual interpretation. Where did our entry occur? Was it in the city center? Was it at the main gate to the property? It changes depending on the perspective of who you ask. The path however is the most interesting. We knew what our destination was but how to get there was another question. We had to take the right path that would lead us in the right direction. As architects, we do the same thing. In our lives we do the same thing. We know what our intended destination is but the question is how we get there and what we encounter along the way. It is all subjective, open to interpretation. As we travelled along the path, we encountered times of openness where we had clear views of the house and the sea in the distance and other times, we were in between the rocks and the trees which blocked our view of what is ahead of us but we made it. Our arrival was clear and pronounced. As I design, I go through a similar process. I can see the arrival in my head and the idea of the final product yet there is an entry and a path that must happen before the arrival can occur. And even then once the arrival is met, it is still open to interpretation.

The next time you travel or the next time you visit a new place or even the next time you go for a walk, think about how you enter. Think about what path you took, and about what your desired destination is and see if it has an affect on you.

Only 20 more days left in Roma... so hard to believe! I am definitely going to miss it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sneakers and Yellow Hard Hats

Our Field Study class took us on a unique adventure outside the city walls of Rome. The pictures below document the day.

                                           Architect: Richard Meier 

The Jubilee Church is the 50th of the 50 churches that were built by the Archdiocese of Rome in the suburbs of the city. A church that helps to unite the community in which it serves.

The design consists of three sails to symbolize the Holy Trinity. The highest of the three represent the Holy Father's protection over the Christian people.

The white concrete used on the exterior is brought inside with a mixture of light woods to create a truly remarkable space that is transparent from front to back.

Next Stop: Citta dello Sport di Tor Vergata

                                           Architect: Santiago Calatrava

Citta dello Sport is a project that is about a third of the way completed. This picture is looking at one half of the complex. The other side will look identical. One side will be used for swimming while the other for Sport.

We were able to walk on site with the Project Engineer assigned to the job.


Final Destination: The Macro Museum

                                           Architect: Odile Decq

The Macro is Rome's Contemporary Art Museum. The architect chosen for the project is a French architect that only uses the colors black and red. The museum acts as public space for the community while any white walled space requires a museum ticket to be viewed. 

One of the exhibits was a variety of these drawings done in a simple black marker. This one I was especially fond of. 

Each one of those hanging balls is a different spice and when you walked into the room, you could very easily smell it. 

The Macro, is very similar to the Maxii Museum which is Italy's Contemporary Art Museum. Both completed in the same year. This view is from the interior of the older part of the structure.


All three sites in one day. 4 weeks left to the semester, 7 class days, and a trip to Southern Italy. This whole thing is coming to an end way too fast. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Brighter Days

     I was looking back at my sketchbook just the other day to clean up some of the drawings from Istanbul. I came across one that I forgot I even drew. It wasn't a typical sketchbook drawing but I felt that it was important for documentation. On the page, are lines in a variety of shapes, sizes, and directions. As an architecture student, we were taught in a drawing class about how to draw a line. There is a lot more that goes into it than one would think. A line should always have a clear starting point and a clear ending point. And as you draw, your pencil should be slightly wiggling all the way across. The wiggle helps you keep control over your hand and your pencil.
     This idea of drawing a straight line makes me think about our lives and the paths that we take. In our lives, we need a clear starting point that gets us off on the right foot. As we continue down the path that God leads us, its never completely straight. We are constantly wiggling, constantly straying but somehow its still all part of the path. What would happen if we didn't wiggle and we tried to stay as straight and steady as we could? Just like drawing a line we would go off in directions that we don't want to go off in. What always gets me is this path that I think I have planned. So many times as we were walking around the city of Istanbul did our path unexpectedly change. Sometimes for the better and other times for the worse. I always think I have a plan yet that plan is just a plan and thats all it is. The more I try and make it my path, the more frustrating it gets. You cannot limit yourself to your plans because our plans are not ours but God's.
     Take for example, a plan in architecture. It's a drawing that clearly explains the design so that others can take it further and make it "real". But how many times does it take to perfect the plan? Architects go through revision after revision before a plan can be set in stone. And even after, the plan is constantly being edited to accommodate the end result. I know it is always important to have a plan and a direction. It is necessary for my future. I just need to keep in mind that my plan is will be constantly under revision. But in the end, just like a well planned and well executed design it will work out.

Monday, March 14, 2011

La mia Famiglia a Roma

Ok, I'm sorry but I have to brag a bit. God has blessed me with the best family.

This past week, the Laux's and Gram came to Roma and I am so glad that they did. Not just because every meal, every gelato, and every taxi ride was paid for (that was an added benefit) but because it was so good to see them. It was so much fun being the tour guide. Don't think being a tour guide is easy... it is quite hard leading your family around a big city. But I really enjoyed it.

I was able to surprise them at the airport upon their arrival and the reaction I received was priceless. Kelsey looked at me for a few seconds and then realized that it was me. And once she realized, Mom, Dad, and Gram realized as well. They were so surprised. What I thought was interesting about the week was the amount of Italian and the amount of architecture history that I have learned since being in Rome. I'm not sure if it was the circumstances where I knew I needed to step up and help my family get around and get what they needed but somehow my Italian kicked right in. Overall, it was just a great week and one that I know I will remember and I hope my family will remember.

First purchase in Italy, Dad's hat...

Only the best Gelati in Roma for my Family.

Kelsey always had shopping bags in her hands... In Italian we would call her Principessa.

Mom, Kelsey, and Gram throwing coins in the Trevi Fountain for luck!