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Downtown St. Pete is beautiful, and at an interesting point in its development right now. There have been lots of new museums built there lately- the new Dalí and Chihuly museums, and the addition to the Museum of Fine Arts. The city is famous for its undeveloped waterfront that is sculpted by parks with walking paths and banyan trees. There is a competition going on now to build a new pier that will hopefully continue to integrate the city with its beautiful waterfront, using these already established green spaces. I grew up here and I love coming back to visit. My Mom took the day off work yesterday and we spent the day downtown.

We’re in search of a cappuccino that compares to those made in Italy- none have been found yet. The one at Paciugo is probably the closest comparison. At least we got to go for a walk after wards and look out at the bay.

The new Dalí museum, next to the new Mahaffey Theatre. It’s got a cool staircase and an amoeba-like glass structure puncturing out from a concrete cube.

We then tried to find the proposals for the new pier at the Museum of History, and found out they were moved to the Coliseum. The presentations were moved because the three architects in competition for the new pier design were presenting their proposals to a board of city council members, architects, urban designers, and citizens. Too bad we missed most of it but I still got to see some boards and models. My favorite design is The Lens by Michael Maltzan Architecture, who is working with Wannemacher Jensen Architects- a local firm that I’ve visited before. This design provides many programmed spaces that are culturally and economically important for the city, lots of shade, and excellent integration of the natural environment, existing parks, and surrounding urban fabric. I love this design and I hope it wins. Here you can see a news report on the presentations that includes links for all three proposals.


Yes, I got a pasta maker when I came back from Italy, what else am I gonna do? It’s pretty fun to make anyways…

The past few weeks have been so ridiculously busy that I couldn’t find time to update my blog. Our design final was last Monday and the next thing I knew we were cleaning out studio and weren’t allowed to use it anymore. There are lots of awesome things I did in the last few weeks of my time in Italy I still want to write about, so I’ll make an update of the blur that happened at the end of my trip. Even during the last days of class we were doing cool things with our teachers (an impromptu visit to the off-limits and under-construction second floor of the basilica, organized by Martha), having good times with my fellow students and our Italian friends (dinners in the hills of Vicenza, coffee breaks, winery visits), and of course spending time with il mio fidanzato italiano Aldo, who always knows how to show me the best of Italy.

Jazz club in Marostica

A few weeks ago I went with Aldo to a jazz show in Marostica. The show was by an American group in the tiny town famous for its medival walls and huge chess board in the town square. We had a cool seat from which to watch the show- it was as if we were backstage, looking at the musicians from the side and seeing the audience in front of them.

The anti-climactic but still fun trip to Ronchamp

I was so excited that I had an opportunity to see Ronchamp with Aldo and some of his classmates from the architecture school in Venice. I missed class Tuesday and Wednesday to drive the 8 hours to the church, which is not  accessible by train. We had a great time driving through Switzerland and France, but when we got there at 7 pm the hotel told us that the same morning we left it was published in the local newspaper that the church would be closed the next day. So I didn’t actually get to see the church, except as a strange illuminated form on a distant hill. Although I missed the main attraction of the trip, we did stop in this interesting small French town called Belfort right outside of Ronchamp. It has a medival fort and castle that is impressive and beautiful, you can walk around and on top of the fort and get some nice views of this tiny town.

Thanksgiving in Italy

We had an excellent thanksgiving in Vicenza- everyone brought something delicious. We had turkey (bought at the base, made in Donna’s kitchen), stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce- all the essentials. I made pumpkin pie from scratch with Aldo. We bought a zucca barruca (not sure if I’m spelling that right) from a pumpkin stand instead of using canned pumpkin and it made a big difference- it was the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had.

Stamperia/Stamp shop/Printmaking studio

One day I went to Aldo’s for coffee, and he had to leave quickly to drop his mom off somewhere. I went with him and we ended up at this really cool printmaking studio (at first translated to me as a stamp shop- the Italian word for “print” is “stampa”). His mom takes classes there, so we hung out a little and I got to make my own print. I etched a perspective of the studio.


Rome- Spectacle and Reflection

This was the first title we came up with for our studio project. It probably still needs some work, as does the whole project before it’s portfolio ready. But it turned out to be a really interesting project. These are our introduction boards that explain the concept:

Details of some of our images for the review (missing Derrick’s renderings!):

We each worked on different zones of the site, each one with different program and approach. Our site plan:

Tour of the 2nd floor of the Basilica with Italian architects

It’s too bad the second floor of the basilica is closed because it’s very beautiful. It doesn’t open again until October 2012. I took pictures of it on my film camera, once they’re developed I’ll post them here!

Last night in Italy: Bassano del Grappa with Aldo

This was my second time in Bassano, the city of the famous Nardini distillery and Fuksas’ Le Boule. It was a holiday in Italy and the little town was packed. We went to the famous Nardini bar and had a Bassano style spritz. We walked around the city much more than I did the first time, and it was decorated with Christmas lights and very beautiful. It’s a really cool town on a scenic river with plenty of bars, bookshops, and cafes- it would be a fun place to stay for a vacation.


Next step for this blog…

I hope to go back to Italy someday, the sooner the better. I think I should continue making posts on this blog- about things related to architecture, my education, and my future professional experience as an intern during the year after I graduate. Of course I’ll probably reference Italy often and reminisce on my experiences there, it was a life-changing trip. I had excellent professors, great friends and classmates, and learned so much about creating architecture and many important tools and thought processes you need to be a good designer. I’m so thankful for this experience, how I grew, and the people I met. I hope to continue this trajectory of learning/observing/adapting/experiencing/creating…

My first time developing film from my new camera! I really like how they turned out:

studio and Robert

cute dog


basilica series


bombed out church in the hills of Vicenza


one of the bell towers in Vicenza

A school in Vicenza that has a classical building on one side of the courtyard and a fascist one on the other- I superimposed the two facades

the way from studio

garden and street

Aldo and Alex

Today I went to a winery with my new Italian friend Aldo. Every time we do something that’s normal for him, like go to dinner with friends or a winery or a drive through the hills, I get really amazed and excited and keep telling him thank you for taking me here, when for him it’s just normal grocery shopping or something. I guess life is good for the Vicentini. We got a wine called Novella at a winery close to Vicenza and on the way back stopped in this little town called Covolo that had a really cool old bar, also with good wine. I didn’t have my camera so I used a cell phone, but I think the images are still ok.


The winery


Coolest wine bar ever- it’s got a dome

Il mio amico- bravo Aldo bravo

gardens outside a restaurant across from the bar

Villa Rotunda, part of your view en route to the winery



When I was home sick yesterday I watched the movie l’eclisse, an Italian movie from the 60’s. Even though I couldn’t understand all the Italian, it was really good just for its images. It also stars the actress Monica Vitti, who I also saw in l’avventura, and really like. At least I did something worthwhile at home…

I’m writing about this a few weeks after I went to Florence. I’ve been pretty busy, and the only thing that has given me time to write this is the fact that I’m home, sick, in bed. Luckily with my computer. I went to the doctor yesterday and I’m still not sure what exactly I have but my tonsils are so swollen I can’t talk. Other than that I feel fine and I’ve been walking around like normal for the past few days, except with little or no voice. So hopefully I’ll get better… by tomorrow, ideally. In the meantime, some reminiscing on Firenze-

Our hotel room- I had my own room upstairs

the famous Duomo- the first dome built since Roman times

you can climb to the top and get some great views of the city

also some interesting views inside the church- looking down at the altar, or being right next to the frescoes

One of the other famous landmarks of Firenze is the Uffizi Gallery- it has the biggest collection of Renaissnace art. Firenze is, afterall, where the Renaissance was born. Outside the museum early morning-

The view of the Duomo, and “The Rape of the Sabines” in the sculpture garden outside the Uffizi

market where Florentine leather is sold- the square was nice but the market itself was hokey

When we went back to Vicenza, it felt like I had arrived back home. Also it was nice to pay only €2.50 for spritz instead of something like €6, and a quarter liter of wine at Righetti’s for only €.30!

Mom and Dad in Piazza dei Signori

Of course I had to show my parents Venice. We saw an exhibit at Museo Correr, which was a beautiful museum.

Now I’m back in Vicenza, but only for a month. I’m pretty stressed out which is probably partly why I got sick. We’ve been working on our studio project and I have USP to work on- it’s a lot. Anyways, I’m already bored at home and have a lot of things I’d rather be doing. Also I’m missing a trip to Paris because of this. I really hope I get better soon.

Ci vediamo,