ARCH 475 Capstone Studio

This was my final required studio class for my undergraduate career, and the project for the semester was to design an. Aircraft Instruction and Maintenance Facility near Willard Airport. Basically, it consisted of an airplane hangar, workshops, classrooms, and office spaces.

The site we were given is really big, basically about the size of 2 football fields, and way more space than needed. My overall concept was then to bunch everything together on one side of the site and organize the rooms around the aircraft hangar. That way, everyone would be able to see what went on in an aircraft hangar on a day to day basis, and I thought it would encourage a more practical and hands on learning process for the students who would be in close proximity to the workshops and classrooms. Because everything was so clustered together, I had a lot of the site left over to convert to a native prairie.

The first image kind of shows how the building is organized, and where each piece fits together diagrammatically.

The second picture is a view of the what the entrance might look like. The reasoning behind the color had to do with pulling the colors from the materials and the prairie and using them as a sort of gradient out to the landscape.

In the third picture, you can see what the interior of the hangar looks like as a student walking to a classroom on the left.

The final two pictures are of the scale model.

Hopefully you guys enjoy seeing this!


Man, I thought I was going to be better at posting this semester, but I think I’ve gotten worse… Anyways, just a short one now to get back on the horse. Things that happened these past few weeks:

– Conclusion of GreenBox workshop

I worked with a group of 4 french students on a one week long project designing a shelter for flood victims. Great to meet some more french kids, great to practice french, great to see how they approach design problems (they are way better than us Americans I am sorry to admit… they kick our butts, and they were a year younger than us. Not only that, but they speak more English than I do french… pretty sad.) But the project turned out pretty well, and I had a lot of fun.

-Celebrating Unofficial in France, and getting in the DI.

I guess I didn’t do too much celebrating, but I did go to a party at the French school that night which was awesome… aaaaand I learned how to swing dance (so fun… so bad)

– Paris Half Marathon

I surprised myself with this one and actually ran better than I thought I was going to, given how little time I had been putting in to running the previous few weeks. I ran 1:17:25, 106th place.

– Trip to Berlin

Last Thursday myself and a friend skipped class and flew to Berlin to attend the Cradle to Cradle festival. Cradle to Cradle is a design philosophy and book that was written by William McDonough, one of my architecture heroes, that is about taking anything we produce and at the end of its life cycle returning it back to the earth in some form or another… a closed loop approach. Very cool, and I got a chance to meet William McDonough, which was awesome, even though I pretty much just made a fool of myself stumbling over my words talking to him.

The next two days we say the city some more, got a great walking tour and had an awesome dinner of Berlin meatballs with potato salad and beer. The last day we went to a concentration camp outside the city… It was really heavy, and pretty mind boggling to see the real thing in person. Its one thing to read about in books, but to actually see it was something else. I believe everyone should see one of these if they ever get a chance to.

Next weekend I’m going to Ireland to see my parents and Brendan and Ciara, who are on spring break, so that’s really exciting too. Homework is piling up now though and our final projects are due in 3 weeks… so it will be busy for sure.

Spain, etc.

S0O0O. I decided I should make some time to do this… but I have been dreading it for a while because this post will probably be a long one… bear with me please. Anyways, the first thing I want to talk about was my trip to Spain. This consisted of 4 cities (Barcelona, Bilbao, Sevilla, and Madrid, in that order) over the course of 9 days, with 4 friends (running into a few others from the program along the way), taking 3 flights (should have been 4…), one bus, a lot of metros, and the occasional rented car.

I’m saving Barcelona for last because I think it was my favorite… so I’ll start with Bilbao. If you’ve never heard of Bilbao, it’s because its probably one of the lesser known Spanish cities, but I have to say I was really impressed. Bilbao is in Basque country, in the north of Spain, kinda in the mountains which makes it really cool. But the real reason we went to Bilbao was this building:

The Guggenheim Museum is totally mind blowing, and even though in principle I think it’s very wasteful and more sculpture than architecture, I can’t help but be in amazement that it is actually a real thing. Besides that though, Bilbao was actually a really beautiful city, and had a few other interesting sights as well as being super cheap… a theme we would encounter throughout Spain. We all thought the tapas here were great too… at least until we went to Sevilla.

Sevilla was next, and it was probably the most Spanish of all the towns we went to. We took advantage of the laid back atmosphere and relaxed a little bit more in Sevilla, and sketched less and saw more cultural things. The tapas here were AMAZING, and we also had some great tinto vino, kinda like sangria but more of a southern Spain thing, and enjoyed the 70 degree sunshine. Among other things, we got a free walking tour of the city (which was ridiculous, there were streets with 12 different names on 12 different maps and had absolutely no order to them at all), rented bikes, visited parks, paddled in this goofy rowboat in one of the town plazas, saw a flamenco show (kinda mind blowing, makes me want to learn to dance), ate more tapas, and pretty much chilled.

We caught a night bus to Madrid after that, and arrived at 6am in some really crappy weather. Since we couldn’t check into our hostel yet, we kinda just sat around in the rain for a while and then when stores opened up got some terrible breakfast. Believe it or not, the bus ride was not a very restful sleep for us, and we all fell asleep in the restaurant for about 45 min… litrally laying down in the booth… somehow nobody cared. I enjoyed Madrid quite a bit, but it was a pretty typical European city and didn’t have too much to distinguish itself… though we saw some famous Picasso paintings (guess what… they look just like the pictures online… I love art…) and had a really cool walking tour with a British guy named Col. Also, in one of the famous town squares, there is an extremely fat man who always dresses up as Spiderman and talks in a bad English accent to tourists… so that was pretty great.

Back to Barcelona though. I realize that most (all) of you are not architecture majors, but in my biased opinion everyone should be able to appreciate the genius that is Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi is an architect from the late 18/early 1900’s who designed buildings that look like they just came off the set of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and is just in a category all by himself when talking about architecture. And Barcelona is Gaudi’s Town. He owns it, plain and simple. Here is Casa Batllo, and his masterpiece, Sagrada Familia.

Sagrada Familia has been under construction for over 120 years now, and still is not finished. Blows the Guggenheim out of the water IMO.

Anyways… that was what Barcelona was to me. In addition to that, we saw Parc Guell, this great park designed by Gaudi that overlooks the whole city, and got to see the ocean too! The Sagrada Familia was cool, but probably the highlight of my trip was the 50+ overweight guy who I saw running on the beach… naked, with nothing but a hat on… twice.

After all that traveling, 4 cities in 9 days, I was feeling pretty good about how smooth everything had gone, until the last day. On Sunday, in Madrid, somehow all of us were under the impression our flight was at 7pm, but it turns out it was actually 4pm… I don’t even know how this is possible really. But anyways, it was all good because we just went to the airport, rented a car, and drove… pretty much standard practice now. We made the 12 hour drive back to Paris with an hour to spare before class. Sweet.

Okay, I have more to say about the following week, but I’m going to postpone the next post until some other time… this is probably more than long enough already anyways…


Today marks the beginning of our second sketch trip of the year, and I will be heading to Spain to visit Barcelona, Bilbao, Sevilla, and Madrid. The past few weeks have been pretty uneventful, marked by a few trips to Paris and schoolwork mostly. I am excited for a break in the action and am hoping this trip will be as awesome as Italy! I’ll post a more thorough update when I return next Sunday.

I have noticed that my frequency of postings has been struggling lately… When I started this blog, my intentions were to use it as a tool to keep in touch with everyone back at home, but just as importantly I wanted it to be a record of my year abroad that I could look back on in the future. So with that being said, I’m going to do my best to keep this a little more up to date. Since my last post, the first 4 weeks of the semester have flown by, and I’d have to say so far so good. After going through all the adaptation and change of last semester, though it went quite well, I feel like I am ready to start this semester with fresh eyes and big goals in mind. I can’t believe how quickly time is moving here, and one of my goals is to try and take advantage of every learning opportunity I can while in Europe, because I may never get a chance as good as this ever again. One way I’m trying to do this is by making sure I make every trip count for something useful; not only do I want to see things that are “fun” or “cool”, but I’m going to try and make an effort to learn about things that will be useful to me in the future, and not just something I can check off of a list of crazy things to do while in Europe. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to go tanning on the nude beach in Greece, but I would like to find a good balance of those things in the future.

Fortunately, I can report that I have done a few very cool things that I think fit the description of this goal. A few weekends ago, I visited a public housing development that was just built in Paris called Eden BIO, a green community that takes advantage of a lot of simple solutions to create a very livable space on a very limited site. Recently I have been researching more and more sustainable development, and I was very happy to be able to go see this one. In addition to that, the only trip I made since my last post was to Helsinki, Finland. For some reason, I decided to make this trip to Helsinki in mid-January, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and probably was warmer than Chicago at the same time (ha!). Among some other cool architectural things we did there, my roommate and our two friends visited a village called Eko-Viiki, another super sweet eco-village that was really high tech and cutting edge.

Besides that, our hostel in Finland was actually in the Olympic Stadium that hosted the 1952 Oly’s, and it had a bunch of cool running related stuff around like statues of Paavo Nurmi and Lasse Viren, which helped motivate me to get up on dark snowy mornings and get my run in. Not only that, but I also knew that at the end of each run I would be treated to the hot buffet breakfast they served at the hostel, which were definitely the best breakfasts I have had in Europe outside of Ireland. This was probably an exponentially larger motivating factor. If there is one thing I love, it is buffet breakfast. That is because it is the marriage of two of life’s greatest pleasures; buffets, and breakfast. I really can not say enough about how great this breakfast was.

Anyways, after a fun filled weekend in Finland, me and my 3 friends happily boarded our flight home on Sunday evening back to Paris. As I buckled in and got ready for take off, my thoughts were interrupted by the announcement of my name over the plane’s PA system. A flight attendant then came to my seat and very straightforwardly told me that I was in fact on the wrong flight and that I was supposed to be taking the flight back to Paris Monday night. A quick check of my boarding pass confirmed what this guy was telling me… and I got booted off the plane. I still am not exactly sure how I got as far as I did in the first place.I did my best to stay calm and try and figure out my options, but I quickly found out that I had none, and just had to wait for my flight the next evening. I dejectedly got back on the shuttle bus to our hostel, worrying a little bit about the classes I was going to have to miss, when I realized the implications of what I had done… I now had one more day of Buffet Breakfast. I gave myself a quick pat on the back and didn’t give my missed classes another thought, and spent the next day in Helsinki alone, which was quite nice actually. The flight that evening went off without a hitch, and besides being made fun of a lot by my friends no other harm has come from my dumb mistake. But hey, if that’s the price I have to pay to get an extra BB, then it was well worth it.

America, England, Ireland…

Last time I left off, I was in the airport of Charlotte NC… not the last of my airport visits for the trip. I did in fact make it home in time for the holidays, and had a great week catching up with all my friends and family. I had a Christmas party a few days beforehand, and I was really glad that just about everyone was able to make it over to hang out for a while. I also had a great time going up to another party in Naperville, and got to run with a bunch of people every day pretty much… something I had been missing for the past few months. After being able to be home on Christmas Eve and Christmas with my family, I don’t know how I would have ever been able to miss it.

On the 26th I flew out of O’hare to meet up with my UoI friends Kevin and Andrew in London, who were awesome enough to plan a trip to Europe for their winter break. We met up at our hostel there (best one I have stayed in yet, hands down) and proceeded to eat fish and chips erry dayand see just about everything anyone could hope to see in London in 4 days. That included Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Eye of London, Norman Foster’s “Gherkin” and City Hall (phallic contemporary architecture… sweet), Tower of London, Big Ben, a few museums, a few of the local parks, about 50 different awesome luxury cars, and as many pubs as we could.

On NYE we flew over to Shannon Airport in Ireland, rented a car from the reliable Dan Dooley’s (the only place that would rent to under 25 year olds in the whole airport… also the place where I left my credit card… whoops), and headed off on the wrong side of the road to County Mayo. While I am confident that I would have been more than capable of driving stick or driving on the left side of the road, the combination of the two made it a bit more interesting. Luckily we made it everywhere we wanted to go safely, and I managed to only stall the car 9 times before the trip was over. Even though we were staying in Castlebar, we spent most of NYE in Westport Ireland, home of Ireland’s hottest nightclub (C2 baby!). I don’t know if this last part is true, but we had an awesome time dancing our faces off. We woke up bright and early the next morning and headed out before anyone else was awake in the O’Boyle house, and were on the road by 1 pm. Our next stop was Crough Patrick, a mountain overlooking Clew Bay and the Atlantic. We were lucky enough to have a semi-sunny day and climbing the mountain was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. It was really beautiful and harder than I remember, but well worth the trip. That evening we started making our way toward Dublin, stopping along the way to try and find a B&B for the night. As I had been hinting towards my friends all along, Ireland is a country that loves to have a good laugh and a good pint, and is very good at making that happen, but besides that is essentially a 3rd world country. They were able to see this for themselves as we struggled to find places that had running water, and were nearly desperate when we discovered an awesome Irish country music club that had rooms with showers that worked… so we stopped there for the night. After a morning run and a traditional Irish breakfast, we were off to Dublin where we dropped our rental car off, saw the sights for a few hours including a sweet bridge by Santiago Calatrava that I had been wanting to see, and met my cousin Mark for a few pints at his local pub in Shankill, just south of Dublin. It was a great last night in Ireland. We left the next day for Paris, and arrived last night. Unfortunately for me, classes started today, so I am back at school now. The good news is Andrew and Kevin will still be in Paris until next Monday, so at least I will see them some more before they leave. The break felt incredibly short, but it was also totally awesome, and I am super excited to make 2011 at least as good as 2010 was. I have big goals for myself, and can’t wait to get started on them as we start to get underway.

Where is John Candy when you need him…

Well, my semester has officially come to an end, and exactly 30 hours ago I left my lovely home in Viroflay France to start my journey back to the States to celebrate the holidays. My plan was to fly to London last night and catch a flight to Chicago, arriving sometime this afternoon. As the situation now stands, I am currently sitting in an airport in Charlotte, North Caroline, and still am not exactly sure how that happened. All I know is I should be home in just a few more hours, so past that I don’t even care anymore.

The end of the semester was very very busy with schoolwork, and I did not do any sort of traveling for the past month or so as our final design project deadline drew near. The project was a theatre and cafe located in the 11th arrondisement (district) of Paris, seating about 200 people. Me and Alvin worked together on it, and the final result can be seen below.

Final Boards

I’d say the project went pretty well, but definitely had room for improvement. I’m already excited for next semester’s design.

My plans for winter break are to be at home until the day after Christmas, then flying to London for 5 days and heading over to Ireland for 4 more with 2 of my buddies from home, who were awesome enough to make the trip over to Europe to see me. I’m really looking forward to this and I think it will be a pretty unbelievable Christmas break when all is said and done.

I suppose that is all for now, my flight should be boarding soon so hopefully I will be in Chicago very soon! Hope everyone has a good Christmas.

Joyeaux Noel,