Friday, September 18, 2015

Site Visit to Baltimore

By Andy Cunningham

Hey Everyone! My name is Andy Cunningham I am a Graduate student here at SIU. I also completed my undergraduate studies here after transferring from College of DuPage.
For this first blog I am going to write about our site visit to Baltimore that happened last week. For our fall project in the grad studio we have two different sites for our projects. Some of the studio has an urban site along the water near downtown Baltimore, and the rest of us have a rural site about 40min west of Baltimore. On the site we are responsible for creating a master plan that includes office space, businesses, and residential areas, and then we are going to individually design either an apartment building, hotel, community center, or a senior living complex.
The rural site was a lot different than I thought it would be from looking at it on a map. Since it is farmland I was expecting a mainly flat site to work with, but in reality there are quite a bit of hills. These hills present a challenge, but it is going to make the design a lot more interesting than it would have been if it were a flat site. There was also a pretty cool house at the end of the road that went through the site, and I am pretty sure we spent more time looking at this house then we did the site. From the rural site we went to dinner in Columbia, MD on our way back to Baltimore. The cool thing about dinner was the restaurant was right next to one of Frank Gehry’s first buildings, which has since been turned into a Whole Foods.  
On Monday we took a trip to Annapolis. Annapolis was a pretty interesting place, because it is a lot different than a lot of the big cities. The whole town was easily walkable and the streets were pretty small. Annapolis has a lot of history to its name, from being where George Washington resigned from commander in chief to being the country’s first capital. We got to walk around inside the capital building, which is still in use today, and see the old meeting rooms, including the room where Washington handed in his resignation.
Over the next couple of days, we toured the city. We got to see the different neighborhoods of Baltimore which was interesting because walking around some of them unless you looked back at downtown and saw some of the bigger buildings, you would not believe you were still in Baltimore. We also got tours of two architecture firms, RTKL and Ayers Saint Gross, both of these firms were pretty impressive. RTKL was cool because of the wide variety of specialties they had on staff, including architects, interior design, and a few different engineers.
This trip wasn’t just all about school. We had some free time to explore on our own and see what the city had two offer. The two places that really stood out to me were the Inner Harbor, and a place called Power Plant Live. The Inner Harbor was cool because it had a bunch of restaurants and places to shop. The restaurants were cool because a lot of them had the normal indoor dining room, but a lot of them also had an outdoor section with a full kitchen over the water. The Inner Harbor also had the aquarium which was cool it was two buildings, and I wish we would’ve been able to get in but the lines were long and we wanted to do other things. Friday was probably my favorite day of the entire trip because that night while those who drove to Baltimore left, some of us that were leaving the next day went to the Orioles vs Royals Game. The game was cool because the orioles had a pretty impressive comeback by hitting two grand slams in an inning which has only been done a few times prior. The game was also fun because we got to see Camden Yards which is interesting because just off the stadium there is a large rectangular building the B&O Warehouse which now houses offices and some private clubs.

This trip to Baltimore overall was a lot of fun, apart from seeing our sites, we got to see a lot of cool architecture and historic sites throughout the city. That’s it for this entry, and I hope everybody has a good semester.

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