My Semester in Spain for my Architecture Degree with Catholic Univ. of America

Friday, April 07, 2006

Thurs Apr 6th

Well I had spanish and studio yesterday, but there is not much to say about either of them. I worked on my model and drawings.

For sketching class today, we went to the area of Barca that is being rehabilitated. It's kind of like waht is happening in DC, old buildings are getting redone, but they try to keep the old facades as much as possible. Many people here in Barca don't think they are doing enough to preserve the old buildings, and remember the past, what the city was built on, etc. There was an article in the news paper that one old building was set on fire b/c they wanted to tear it down, to build new and the residents wanted to keep it as much as possible. But they found out it was arson, and now there is a big public outcry against the gov't and the developers, b/c the residents think one of the two had something to do with the fire. Our Prof. says there is something in the newspaper everyday about this area of the city they are trying to rehab. The area is called "22@", b/c the zoning for such areas is '22A" and to make it more up to date they changed it to market it better.
But upon seeing the area it seems like they are trying to do some good for the city. Some of the buildings going up will look really cool, and they are also using young people for a lot of the labor in some projects for the city in the area. They are also making a lot of park space and new housing for a lot of people. It jsut some growing pains the people have to deal with.
The first pic is how the area used to look, second is one of the newest buildings to the area, and it's not really liked by the poeple here, although it's not supposed to fit in with the existing buildings too much, it was not one that was supposed to try to fit in. Third is how the new building looks from the inside. Fourth is a building done by youth workers, and is trying to blend into the old fabric of the area. They also kept the smoke stack for a nistalgic touch.

Tues Apr 4th

We had our theory class today, and it was the usual, lecture on a subjest related to Spain and Architecture. This one was on architecture in Catalunia, where it was and where it is going. It was pretty cool b/c it got into today type of issues, and today type of buildings, which was nice for a change. I then went to studio and talked to Ingrid and Prof. M. Vidal and pitched them my concept and project. They both liked it a lot and Prof. Vidal even gave me a good idea for my open space in between my buildings. It willhelp reinforce my concept and give my open space some order. I then worked on the autocad file in my computer, so I could get a little ahead on the floor plans for my housing units, b/c I know that's the next thing coming to do.

Mon Apr 3

My friend Rob left this morning, and it was nice to have a familiar face around for a while. We ahd a good time and I got to see some of Barcelona I had not seen yet as well.

Spanish was Ok I guess, it just seems like I don't even want to go, but the good news is ETSAB is off for Easter break next week so we don't have spanish class for two weeks. Our 2nd 10-day trip starts on Wed. coming so we will be out of town for a while again. After Spanish I went to studio to work on my project. It has been going prety well, and I want to talk to all my crits to get their opinion on my concept and my design.
This coming week is going to be a lot of production type of work, so not too exciting to write or read about.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Weekend Sat/Sun Apr 1 & 2

Sat. Rob and I went to the beach, it was a little cold and overcast, so we didn't stay long, but it was nice to be able to go there b/c it was warm out. Usually in DC it would be really cold still. On Sunday Rob and I went to Monserrat today. It is an old monastery in the mountains here in the province of Catalunia that was started on 1026 I think. I thought is was just going to be a church and monastery, but there was a whole lot of stuff there. There is a place where the virgin Mary appeared, and about a dozen holy sites around the mountain. Some of the sites take about an hour to hike to but we had to be at the train by 6pm to get the last one back to Barcelona. So we didn't get to see everything. The monastery is about 1200 meters above sea level, so you can either get there by Funicular (train) or cable car. Ron and I chose cable car, see picture. We walked around there and had lunch which was included in our ticket, and came home pretty beat. Rob is leaving tomarrow, so we chilled out at home and ate dinner, then bed. All these pics are from Monserrat except the one of me at the beach. The views from Monserrat were spectacular. You can see the cable car we rode up (pic 5). Also the monastery from the highest point of the mountain (pic 1)

Fri Mar 31st

Went to the Botanic gardens today for studio, and it was pretty cool. We had visited the architects office that designed it and it was cool to see it in real life. We also went to the Miro museum, Miro was a famous artist in Barcelona, but not so known outside of Spain. He had some cool paintings, but another museum, sheeesh.
I went to studio and talked with Ingrid about my project (#3) and she said it was fine the way I was going, and that we need to have a progress pin-up on tuesday coming.
Rob went to the Picasso museum while I was at class today, and then after we went to Monjuic castle on the mountain to the south of the city. It's really not far, but it 's high enough to see the whole city from up there. Rob wanted to get some shoes so we went shopping. These are 1) me against the backdrop of the city, 2) Rob at the castle gun enplacement from WWII and 3) a shot of the city form the castle.

Wed Mar 29th

Had Spanish today, usual stuff. Blah Blah. While I was at class Rob went to Casa Battllio, and La Padrera, both by Gaudi. He said he learned a lot more than he thought he would, and he liked them both. I skipped studio today, and showed Rob around the old city of Barca today. We went to the Plaza de Juame I, Plaza and Church del PI, and the Barcelona Cathedral with the ruins of the Roman aqueduct and the old city walls down by the Medaterranean Sea. He liked that a lot. We also walked down Las Ramblas. Rob, Kevin and I went to dinner near the modern at museum tonight.
This is a picture off my balcony, Rob thought it was a cool view, and would show waht my neighborhood is like.

Tues Mar 28th

We had no theory class today, it just was not on the schedule, so I got to sleep late, yeah. My friend Rob from Arlington is coming to visit for a week, he gets in at 2:30.
So I waited for Rob for 2 hrs. at the airport bus stop in Plaza Catalunia, came back to studio, and he was delayed. He will now be here at 5pm. So I went back to Pl. Catalunia, and waited for a while and then saw Rob standing across the street. We went back to my apt. and dropped off his stuff and then got some dinner. We also stopped by my pub here in Barca and watched the Arsenal vs. Juventis game and had a few beers. Came home and went to bed. rob was tired and I was too. He wants to see a lot while he is here, and he likes to get an early start.
This is Rob at on of the Gaudi houses-Casa Battllio

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mon Mar 27th

So I get up for spanish this morning and I get there, and Europe changes to day-light savings a week earlier than the US so I was an hour late for class today. I usually get this information from the news, but since I can only understand about 30-50% of the news, I did not know.
But the class went fine, and we have sketching again today b/c Euginia has to go back to Berlin again. We also had another office visit to MBM, they are the firm that gave us space for our classroom. We met one of the partners, but I forget his name. They used to be a high profile firm, doing major work and cutting edge work, but for the past couple of years, they have not been as prominent. They still do really good work, and have a lot of it, they just have not been as edgy I guess. They do a lot of urban planning too, so it might be that also as the reason.
Tomorrow my friend Rob comes to visit, so that will be fun. I'm sure I will have some pics from the week later.

Weekend Mar 25th & 26th

Well today I tried to play soccer with some of the people here, and most were already doing something, or were too hung over so I went to the beach again, it was another nice day.
We went to the guys house again, for pregame and then went out to olympic villiage again but we didn't leave until 2am. I guess I forgot to mention, when people in Barcelona go out they start at 2am and go out until 5 or 6am when the metro opens up in the morning.
Sunday I did homework mostly and laundry. I know, not very exciting but that's what I did. I also worked on my studio project 3, trying to figure out how to make a block of mixed-use buildings interesting. I also did my spanish homework.
Sorry no new pictures, if I can get some from our night out I will post them later.

Fri Mar 24th

Well today since we had no sketching class, I went back to Olympic Village to finish the assignment for this week. We had to present out project 2 on Tuesday so when we went on Monday, we can right back to finish up our project 2 stuff for our presentation the next day. Plus it was a beautiful day here, the temp was 21C, about 71F, so it was nice to be out.
By the way, the weather here has been getting better by the week. It is usually nice during the day, but drops about 10-15 degrees at night, so you still need a coat sometimes.
Tonight the others guys house is having a Tapas night for dinner, everyone is to bring a different tapa for everyone to share, and then we play drinking games. It was a lot of fun, I learned a couple of new drinking games, like horse race and torretts.
Here are some pictures from a while ago, but we went to a Barcelona game and I forgot my camera, so I had Mari take some pictures for me and I just got them from her.

Wed Mar 23rd

No sketching class today, our prof. won a competition in Berlin and she will be there, so sketching was Monday. Here are some pics of our sketching assignment for Olympic Village. It is a nice place, a lot less dense than the regular city. Euginia says it's expensive to live there, and most are Yuppies.
Studio went well, I researched some mixed use buildings, and started working on my proposal for our next project.
Pictures--1) is a building that is over the roadway, there are three of them that are like gateways to the beach.
2) Is a building that is shaped like a football if you look at it from above, but you can tell from the picture too
3) Is the beach at the end of olympic village, Barcelona did not always have beaches, so it was a big thing when the olympics came here and they added and spruced up the beaches. My prof. tells me that during the summer weekends, and sometimes during the week, you cannot find a speck of sand to sit on it's so crowded.
4) Is at the beginning of the villiage the FISH designed by Frank Gehry. It was one of the first things totally designed with the computer.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Wed Mar 22nd

Well Project 2 is over, and we now move to project 3. For CUA it will be to take a block from our project 2 proposal, and develope the buildings for mixed use. Commercial on the first and possibly second floor, and residences on the upper floors. For our ETSAB counterparts, they will take an open space area from project 2 and develope it more into a plaza or park area.
The weather here in Barcelona is getting nicer by the day. We have had temps in the high 60's and low 70's the past couple of days. We get an occaisional rain shower, but not for long peroids of time. We are hoping to get out to the beach and play some soccer Friday.
I've been thinking about time here in Spain, and it's getting short. My friend Rob is coming on Tuesday this week, and a week after that we are going on out 2nd ten-day trip to northern Spain, Bilbao, San Sabastian, and if Ingrid can manage it, to Paris for 3 days. We are all hoping she makes it happen. I have never been to Paris, so it will be nice to go. But we only have about one month left and it will go fast. Then home to graduate, and back to the working world hopefully.

Tues Mar 21st

Well our jury is here, and all seems well. We had a couple of guests added to our jury; one was this man from ETSAB, he teaches urban design, very related to our project, another was a lady we met on a visit to the Forum site, I think she works for Hetzog and Demuron, and finally the Dean of the ETSAB school of Arch. came to sit in. We also had the regular three, Mikal Vidal, Euginia Vidal and Ingrid Montoya. All the jurors had good things to say about all the projects. They liked some more than others, of course, but for the most part, all the projects did well. There were 15 of us from CUA, and 5 from ETSAB so it was an extremely long night. We finally ended about midnight, and just went home for some much needed sleep. If you want to see the jury photos go to the link http:\\

Monday, March 20, 2006

Mon Mar 20th

Ok so for the past few days, including the weekend, I have been building my model and doing drawings related to said model. I finished the model Sunday night and finished the drawings Monday, so here it is.....I know it doesn't look like much, but it took a long time to cut out the surrounding city blocks, and then glue it all together, and make it look like the map. Then I had to cut out waht we were proposing to do on our site (everything white).

So also today we had sketching class. Our professor, she won a compitition in Berlin so she has to go there on thursday, so this weeks class got moved to today. We went by Olympic village, and saw a bunch of housing. It was really weird though, it's like a city unto itself. It's much less dense than everywhere else, and it's a pretty expensive place to live. Very well kept, but it has a totally different feel than the rest of Barcelona. Some of the buildings were pretty neat, and others looked like apartments in the US. It was also much more quiet b/c there were not a lot of people out and about, like where I live. People are always out in my neighborhood. I'll post some pics the Olympic village next time.

Our presentation is at 4:30 tomarrow, so I hope everything goes well.

Thurs Mar 16th

Well there has been a change in our schedule, so thursdays are sketching class in the morning. We went to a city block, and we had to sketch one exterior facade and one interior facade. Then we had to watercolor one. Can I tell you I have not watercolored since I don't know when, but it was kinda cool just the same. The picture will be included (see above)
Studio was fine also, we have been working on our proposal for the redevelopment of a part of the city, and we have to update the grid system they have here. So pretty much we have a presentation of our proposal on tuesday Mar. 21, so I have been working with Marc trying to combine our ideas, and get a model done. It actually went really well, we came up with a good solution, I think. Pics of the model will come soon too.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tues and Wed Mar 14 and 15th

Not much to tell, I've been working on my model and drawings for my project.

It is really interesting to watch Spanish TV. Since I'm learning the language, I try to follow along with the news, but it gets hard when your vocabulary is limited. Mostly I watch the equivalent of MTV here and occasionally get english videos to listen to and watch. But they also have these soap operas, they are the worst actors I have ever seen. They make it so dramatic, you could tell the plot by the context of the actio, and not even need to hear dialogue. So since Spanish TV is so riveting, I have been downloading more LOST and Battlestar Galactica. My roommate has agreed to pay for half of them, I've got him hooked now too, so we can see regular TV for a nice change.


Mon Mar 13th

Well it's Spanish class again, and we got our tests back. I did OK I guess, I passed, and some people failed, I heard, so I'm in good shape. My prof. said she will take into account our class participation in the final, so that will make me so a lot better in the final, I hope. Anyway, we are learning how to tell time, and the parts of the body, also how to live a healthy life. I feel like I'm 6 again, in elementary school.
We also had another firm visit, our fourth I believe. We went to the north of the city center, to a landscape architect, but they also do buildings, and urban planning. It was a really cool office. The building itself was cool. We saw a project they had done in San Sabastian in northern Spain. They have a really cool way of laying out this park. They made a figure of the coastline of the atlantic ocean from the US to Europe and from Greenland to South Africa. So they too this line they made and morphed it and put it into the area of the project and took all the vegatation along the atlantic coastline and made it into this park area for the city. It was a little more, but it would be hard to describe, suffice it to say, it was cool.
Our Project 2 is in full swing. I've been building a model for the past couple of days, and have been working with my partner Marc, to combine our ideas, and I think we have come up with a really good idea. So now it's just pumping it out, finish the model and draw some drawings, and next Tuesday we present it to our professors. They also have invited some other architects to sit in, so it will be a long night.
That's all for now

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sat Mar 11th

Well it's the weekend, and that means futbol. I got up and tooled around the apt. for a while and then went to studio. I had to get copies of this plan of our site for project 2 and 3, but the place was closed. So I worked on other stuff and got a lot doen actually, placing buildings and working out sight-lines for our concept. So I tried to get copies again, and still closed. So I started to cut out pieces for my model we have to start, and got that done and finally the copy store was open, aso I got copies, and went home for lunch, and then futbol time. It wasn't a great game, but it was futbol. Tom and I had a couple of beers, and then we will be back for the real madrid/villareal game at 10pm.
Tomorrow will be more studio time, making my model mostly, and then Liverpool/Arsenal play at 4pm, so mor futbol. This will be a good game.