Florence – May 23 – 24

On our third day in Florence, we went to visit the famous Duomo and climb up through the do e to the top. The views from this dome were well with the climb. We snaked through very tiny portals to get there. We witnessed the famous fish bone brick pattern. It is unbelievable how this structure is supported. The interior of the dome is heavily decorated with murals of hell and heaven. Graphic views of hell are shown and depict a very gruesome demise. I a also climbed the campanile. From there you can see dynamic views of the dome. I edited a photo using the dynamic views of the tower. This was intended to convey the grandeur of this church’s facade against the stormy sky.

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After the Duomo, we all separated and I ended up in the Central Market which is basically a food mall and sketched various joints in the space. There was a very interesting installation that looked like it provided some structural support but it made no logical sense, so I sketched one of its many interesting connections. The space overall felt like it used to be an old train station with old ivy style iron work. The space had many interesting joint moments.

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On our last day in Florence we didn’t actually spend it in Florence. We took day trips to Siena and San Gimignano respectively. Siena has a very interesting square that had a lot of people and was wrapped in a messy array of facades. In this watercolor I tried to capture that native messiness whilst adding geometric order.

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This sketch was in San Gimignano and was my attempt to show how the facade had been adapted on this particular building over time. This effect also resulted in various textures on the facade.

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Florence – May 21 – 22

After a very hot train ride from Florence we stopped by Pisa to see the iconic tower. It tilted slightly more than I ever thought it did, so it was an amazing sight to see.

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After Pisa we hopped on another hot train to Florence. We trudged through the city to the Hotel. After we settled into the hotel we headed out into town for a tour. We walked to Florence by Bike where we confirmed our bike reservations for the next day. Then we passed by the Baptistery and the Duomo. Our real tours of these places will be in two days, so stay tuned. Then we headed to the Medici Palace. This massive building sits in front of a square with a tower perched on the top. This building is quite odd but give off the impression that great power and a lot of money resided here. So the building serves it’s purpose.

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We headed to the Pont de Vecchio bridge which looks as though house facades are plastered on the sides. The interior of the bridge is lined with many storefronts all containing jewelry shops. The bridge has survived the test of time well.

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The Pitti Palace looks more like a stately manor than the Medici Palace does. This style is much more symmetrical and grand than the Medici Palace. I believe this style of building gives the impression of power and control more obviously than the Medici. On the next day we started early with a bike ride out into the Chianti Valley. I was one of a few selected to scout ahead the route and lead our individual group. We all left the hotel and rode up to the art museum atop a distant hill. We then rode downhill very quickly and had a very slow ascent up to Impruneta. This town had a central square which sadly was not in use. An old man native to the town was very surprised that we were using the square to rest. We ate lunch at a place right off the plaza before continuing our ride. Most of the next stretch was downhill until we reached a restaurant where Tim bought us beers, which were delicious.

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Then we rode back while others including Tim continued on. The ride back went back much faster including the downhills. The uphills were slow but still faster. After we got back to Florence and returned our bikes we were exhausted and passed out.

Paris – May 13 -14

We started our day by taking a visit to the Pompidou Center. This building is very honest in its use of materials. Each mechanical system corresponds to a different color. One of the things I found most striking about this building is its gridded facade that organizes the systems. The sketch below is my attempt to convey that grid within the context of the building.

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The next site after lunch was the famous World Arab Institute by Jean Nouvel. This site is famous for the oculus lenses that shade the buildings interior. Despite most of them being broken, the lenses still have a profound effect on the buildings exterior. The lenses harken to an Islamic geometric order that distinctly fits the buildings program.

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We headed towards the Bibioteque Nacional which is a very modern designed library that both stood out and fell into a very urban landscape as well as a natural landscape. Then we took a train to the Eiffel Tower. No picture or drawing could ever convey the shear size of this structure. Most pictures are of the solitary structure, but having walked the city all day, I am able to place it within the dense urban fabric of Paris. This tower is hands down my favorite part of Paris.

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On the next day we attended mass at Notre Dame. It was a very humbling experience. The church, despite being made out of stone, is the most elaborate church I’ve ever been. The masonry itself has become an artwork which creates this interior that humbles visitors. Next we headed to Versailles. This old palace is decorated to the fullest extent of opulent decorum. The palace itself is gilded to the point of being gaudy in most locations. The real beauty of this place us found in the gardens. The great views of the landscape and of the palace are found here.
This image is showing how the building itself is almost a painting. The palace is a very opulent palace you would find in an old oil painting.

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This sketch was conveying how the gardens frame the views looking into the surrounding town.

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Cinque Terre – May 19 – 20

Our first full day in Cinque Terre was spent exploring the towns. We started by heading to Corniglia. Out of all the towns in Cinque Terre, this one has been touched the least by the outside world. Life is very simple here. This town was definitely my favorite. The flowing drawing was me conveying how the brilliance of the green landscape complements the colorful buildings.

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We got our studio assignments at a cliff side location and were instructed to design a lookout deck.

In Corniglia I had the best peach of my life. All the fruit in this town is delicious. The lemons are huge for which the town is famous for. We also got some focaccia for lunch. After Corniglia we headed for the forth town of Vernazza. This town was my least favorite town. It was tourist Mecca and was way too busy to thoroughly enjoy. We walked around for a while taking in various locales in this city. The city seems much more dense than others. We sketched the city from where we were going to get the group dinner which overlooks the peninsula from a garden terrace.

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After we finished sketching, it started to rain so we left the restaurant. Me and Jared parted with Taylor and walked up the cliff side path. We saw some of the best views I’ve ever seen. It was breathtaking how the Sea unfolded before us as we moved higher and winded through the trees. This was the second best hike of Cinque Terre. After we got to Corniglia me and Jared had another peach and hopped on a train back to Vernazza. We met up with the others and headed to a restaurant. We had amazing pasta dishes and afterwards headed back to the hotel.

On May 20 we began in the second town of Manorola. This town also has a dense fabric like Vernazza. We sketched a while here and then headed up the mountain for my favorite hike of the trip. We lost a few people because the trail was too steep, but once you got too the top it was worth it. Great views even better than the first hike kept upon us,making this trail very wondrous.

The trail ended at Corniglia and the group once again dispersed. Paul, Jared, and I went to Monterossa, the fifth and final town, just to see what it was like. The town is definitely the largest, but was not nearly as dense due to the open courts that are throughout the city. We came across an old WWII bunker that was covered in graffiti and trash. Time had not changed the structure of the bunker but humans had covered it in those messages and trash as it passed through the ages.

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Monterossa may not be nearly as scenic or cultural as the other four but it definitely is much less chaotic and fake than Vernazza. We walked round the streets and entered a few shops before we headed up into the hills for our third and final hike. There was nothing majorly exciting or boring about this hike. We got close to the end where the trees finally opened up and Vernazza’s harbor area opened its arms to greet us. This view made the hike worth it.

At our group dinner that night we had delicious lasagna and settled in for a well deserved nights rest.

Avignon Digital Note

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In this drawing of a street in Avignon, I tried to convey the different material choices on the first level compared to the upper stories. The first level uses a lot of stone and appears very warm and welcoming. The first floor also reflects the busy nature of the ground level. The busy nature of the facade is reflected through the use of exposed stone and glass windows. The surrounding streetscape fades away to relay the buildings facade within the city.

Avignon – May 17 – 18

After another great breakfast, we headed out to catch a bus to Pont du Gard. This is an ancient aromas aqueduct that is three arch levels high and is in near pristine condition. The structure is enormous and still stands today as a testament to Rome’s great prowess as Civil Engineers. What I admired most about it was how clean the rock cuts are that are used to construct it. It amazes me how these people with no access to modern structural software could build something on this scale. It is awe inspiring.

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After Our visit to the aqueduct we had to run back up the hill to catch our bus back to Avignon. When we got back to the city, we wandered around for a while and found lunch at a small Kebab shop which turned out to be pretty good. Then we headed back to the hotel and took a rest. Then Jared, Taylor, and I set out to sketch. We found a small courtyard away from the city and completed a few detail sketches.

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After we finished sketching we headed back to the main city and looked around the closing shops before heading back to the Hotel. We ate dinner at a place Jacob S. picked out which turned out to have decent pizza. Taylor gave her toast about how getting lost is a great thing because you not only discover more about the city, but more about yourself as well.

Day 18 was one of the longest and most grueling days I’ve endured thus far. We had a total of 11 hours of travel time to Cinque Terre Italy. Over the course of the day I realized that the group is starting to get really annoyed with one another. I wrote in my notebook about how it’s necessary to have debate for any good functioning society to work. Architecture is this way also. Good architecture stands out against a scheme, it doesn’t lay blindly within it.

We got to La Spezia and half of our group got trapped on the train. So those of us who did get off headed for the first if the five towns of Cinque Terre, Riomaggorie. We got some wine and pizza and headed for the rocky shore to just relax. This was the best part of the day. I left to drama of the world behind and fell in love with this place where time seems most still.

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Avignon – May 15 – 16

When we left Paris we had an issue with our passes but eventually got on board the train. We saw some of the most beautiful countryside. It was reminiscent of hills in Tennessee back in the US.

After the train we were led by Justin and Nicole to our Hotel. The Hotel
Monclar turned out to be better than the first. The boys got their own apartments equipped with private bedroom and walk in walk in shower.

The town of Avignon is not very big but just big enough. It is an old walled fortress with a river and ruins of a bridge on the far side. In the center, there is a monastery that towers above the city.

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Our first day there was full of exploring this ancient city. The roads are no more than alleys that exist in a interwoven web in this city. No set order is found here. The order is chaos, and out of chaos a feeling begins to emerge. As you explore this town, one cannot help but get lost in the madness and find a strange but protective peace in that. Small but beautiful details emerge here that help define this place and set it apart from a set schema.

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We approached the monastery and found a very open piazza and discovered a very lively place full of locals and tourists. Behind the monastery, a hill rose which offered epic views of the fantastic landscape. A background exists that is never seen in the Midwest. There is a peace here that the people have that makes there way of life appealing.

Across the river, a clearer view of the city and bridge can be found. Here you can see how beautiful this ancient city is. The city is far from having perfect details like Paris, but it is perfect for its lack of them.

On the second day we headed to Marsailles. This city is very city to a city one would find in Southern California, in both architecture and landscape. We made our way to Unite de Habitacion by Le Corbusier. The tower is in need of serious repair on its northern face, this side had not been restored like the other. The building is very impressive in shear size, but it appears that his intention with design was never fully realized. There are odd elements of the site that sit baron an abandoned. The roof has similar idle structures. There are classrooms and galleries that seem unused. However, the views were incredible. The mountains provide an incredible backdrop that frames any direction you look.

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After Unite we got back to downtown and made our way down to the harbor. We ate lunch at a small sandwich shop and explored the market. We made our way to a fort perched high at the entrance to the harbor. The boats in the harbor create a forest of masts through which the historic city can be glimpsed. This city seemed very American, but upon further investigation it’s quaint French nature is unfolded in a very diverse cultural landscape.