Don’t Forget about Studio

Two solid weeks of studio followed the adventure in Scotland. It was kind of nice to just be in Bonn. The Christmas markets were all set up and we’d get food from them at lunch.

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My project ended up being not an actual design but a process for using community engagement to design spaces. In stead of plans and sections, I made an animation.

After working and working and working, we took the train up to Aachen to present our final designs. It was a two-day trip because we had to set up some sort of exhibit thing.

Here is everyone standing with their poster, waiting for Mike, the tallest guy in our class, to hammer all the signs into the ground. We looked like a bunch of protesters.

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Here is me with my sign!2018-12-06 13.16.36

We did some other setting up stuff and the walked around the Christmas markets in the city center.

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Friday was a long day of presentations. Since I made an animated video, I didn’t really have to talk which was great.

Here are some still images from my video


Here is my video if you are interested:

The Community Designed Project Animation

Thanksgiving Abroad

Yep, so it’s Thanksgiving week. The first one I’ve ever spent without my family. Good thing Us LARCHies are basically a family of our own.

The Monday after Rome, we had a tour of the Koln Cathedral. Quite impressive and big. And it would have been a more exciting tour had it been day time and not freezing and windy. We rode elevators up the side of the building and climbed up stairs to see different levels of the cathedral. No pictures allowed to be posted on the internet of the inside of the castle or during the tour so unfortunately you don’t get to see it. But here is a terrible picture I took of the outside of the cathedral before it got dark.

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On Wednesday night, Logan, Ben, Mike (another friend), and I watched Loving Vincent, the painted animation feature film that takes place after Van Gogh’s death. It was impressive and the story was quite suspenseful and interesting. It was especially cool to watch, having just been to the Van Gogh museum and actually seeing some of the paintings used for backdrops. Highly recommend watching.

Thursday, was Thanksgiving. Luckily, we didn’t go turkey-less. AIB hosted a big dinner with all the students at AIB, providing mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, and green beans. We all provided side dishes and desserts.




The Netherlands: Amsterdam


Our morning started with a continental breakfast including bacon and eggs! Very exciting since most hotels and hostels have the traditional bread and cold cuts. Then we gathered for a tour of the Anne Frank House. That was the most heart wrenching experience of my life. But I learned a lot. And it was certainly a worthwhile experience.

Anyway, after being properly depressed by European history, we walked through a brownfield park. It was not quite as exciting as Landschaftspark but it was still quite lovely. There was more attention to the ecological restoration component which I appreciated.


Afterward, we were free to walk around Amsterdam. I didn’t realize until the trip that prostitution is also legal here and so we took a stroll through the Red Light District. It was weird and smelled of weed. A few women were on ‘display’ in the windows but since it was the middle of the day, I think most of them were on break. The clientele for this sort of thing probably comes by in the later hours.

Dinner was at this restaurant called Pesca that Ben’s mom told us about. They have fish out on display and you pick your fish and they cook it for you however they want. Unfortunately, our group was too large to do that so we just told them our budget and the prepared a whole meal for us based on that. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint! We had olive bread, Calamari (which I’m not a fan of) and prawns to start. Then they brought out mussels in butter lime sauce. The main course was sea bass with a side of salad and baked cauliflower. SO DELICIOUS! And not too expensive.

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We got an early morning start, meeting Da Daktores (the roof doctors) to learn more about green roofs. The roof we shivered on had an ingenious system that captured rain water to water plants from beneath and reduced peak flow for runoff during large rain events.


We warmed up in a coffee shop for a bit, then visited a park that was actually a series of islands.

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For lunch, our coordinator took us to a traditional Dutch herring stand. The sandwich I ordered had raw herring, pickles, and onions. Basically halitosis on a bun. Honestly, it tasted alright, but I couldn’t get past the slimy, raw herring texture. Logan ended up finishing my sandwich. Unsatisfied with the aftertaste, I bought some macaroons.

Our afternoon was spent on a very long tour of canal and water infrastructure in Amsterdam. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t remember much from the tour.


By the end of the tour, we were all hungry, tired, and sore from walking. Luckily, dinner was soon. It was a group dinner at a pancake place. They had savory and sweet pancakes. They weren’t fluffy like I expected but were more like a thicker crepe. Quite delicious.


Before leaving for Bonn, we went to the Vincent Van Gogh museum. And it was pretty much the best museum experience of my life! I wore my starry night socks. We couldn’t take pictures, unfortunately. But we got to see an evolution of his art and I learned so much about him (including the fact that he was born in the Netherlands, which I didn’t know). He didn’t actually start painting until I think 27 and he only sold one painting the whole time he was alive. I got to see a number of his famous paintings, including the sunflowers, the cherry blossoms, the yellow house, a few of his self portraits, and crows over wheat field (which was allegedly his final painting before his death. BUT the museum also had an unfinished painting that is speculated to be the actual last painting he was working on). The only bummer was that Starry Night did not make an appearance. It’s currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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Here are some pics



Check out this insane bike parking garage. Biking here is intense.DSC_0536


The Netherlands: Rotterdam

[November 10-12]

The whole of last week was spent in the Netherlands. Their country has implemented innovative water management infrastructure due to a decent portion of the country being below sea level and thus quite prone to flooding. The tour was mostly so we could learn about this storm water management but also because it’s a trip to the Netherlands.


Our bus drove off in the wee hours of the morning with a bunch of sleeping students. We woke up at our first stop. Kinderdijk. A UNESCO world heritage site (just for you mom) of historic windmills that pumped water from canals back into the sea. We walked around the site and even went inside one of the windmills.

DSC_0054DSC_0105DSC_0011The next stop on the way to Rotterdam was the Maeslantkering mechanical storm surge barrier. The giant appendages were built to protect the city of Rotterdam, and is part of an extensive system of flood barriers and dyke that has been developed to prevent disastrous flooding. It was drizzling when we arrived. We watched an informational video about the gates and then went outside to take a look. Each of the arms is taller than the Eiffel tower!DSC_0115DSC_0118

Here’s an informational sign with a drawing of the barrier.

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Once the tour was over, we scurried back into the van and traveled the rest of the way to Rotterdam.

We arrived in Rotterdam and checked in to our hotel. Yes! A hotel. With towels and comfy beds. It’s called ‘The Student Hotel’, with amenities catering to the youngsters of the world. It was very hip and had witty signs on the walls like “Here comes the son” and phrases on the shampoo bottles like, “Shower is knowledge.” A group of us went out in to the city in search of dinner. We walked around aimlessly for a few blocks and came across this crazy plaza with funky buildings.

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None of the buildings look expensive and futuristic. This funky n-shaped building seemed interesting so we decided to investigate.

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Inside the building was a market with stalls selling fancy cheese and spices and food. The underside was a giant mural of fruit which I quite enjoyed.

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In the morning, a few of us walked around by ourselves since planned activities didn’t start until 1:00 PM.

Here are some floating trees.


And a funky bridge.DSC_0127

An this thing.



In the afternoon, we had a tour of stormwater infrastructure and stuff around the city. Pretty neat. The city is much smaller than I expected.



This machine is pretty cool. It sucks up smog from the air and condenses it into a black powder that is made into (kind of ugly) jewelry.


For dinner, we went to an Indonesian restaurant. They brought us a bunch of sampler plates with all different sauces and curries and rice and what not. Very yummy! In the evening, we played ping pong and fusball in the confusing maze of a lobby.


Before heading to Amsterdam, we made a stop at these recycled, floating wetlands. The plastic pieces are made from recycled plastic collected from the river.


And then we made a quick stop to look at a parking garage. Don’t worry it was actually cool. It was part of a effort to restore the beach front. Honestly thought, I forgot to look at the parking garage part because I was looking at the shells and rocks along the beach. The sun came out for a little which was nice to see.


Our final stop before Amsterdam was the little town if Leiden. It’s a cute college town with canals and brick everywhere. Very picturesque. We walked around for a bit and got lunch in a little diner. Logan got a black berry, cheddar, jalapeno, and bacon grilled cheese. Interesting and tasty flavor combo.


It was getting dark when we arrived at our funky hotel, The Vokshotel, in Amsterdam. Our room was weird. The toilet and shower were in separate rooms. But instead of a door to the shower area, there was just a metal chain curtain that hid very little.

After getting settled in, everyone went off to do, um, legal things. The weed things.  (Don’t worry, cannabis is legal in the Netherlands and they were responsible and safe about it) Logan and I decided to just walk around. The city is quite unique with it’s many canals and hoards of bikes.



Landschafts Park

Oh man, this was quite a while ago now. Like, before fall break. You can thank my laziness and spotty wifi for getting so behind on all my blog posting.

So a few weeks ago, we took a class trip to Landschafts Park in Duisburg. The area had a lot of industry (steel work and coal mining in particular) and the vestiges of these activities were left to rust. Landschafts park took the industrial structures of a steel plant and turned it into a large park. We learned about these post-industrial parks in school so it was really cool to visit and play in one. In the morning, we walked around the park. There was a section of outdoor climbing walls with hand holds everywhere! Very cool. My friend Ned, an avid rock climber, was reluctant to move on. We also got to climb to the top of the blast furnace.

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Here are some cool little gardens

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After lunch at a little kiosk, we went on a bike ride to a huge gasometer. Inside was a photography exhibit that looked like you stepped into an issue of National Geographic. Massive images were displayed in the space, all about mountainous and wild landscapes. We saw a few pictures of Iceland which was exciting! There was also three-dimensional model of the Matterhorn.

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At night, the structures were lit up in spooky colors.

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The next day, we traveled over to the Ruhr Museum that used to be a coal plant

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Hola aus Barcelona!

[Originally written on Saturday, the 29th]

Right now, I am on the plane flying back from Barcelona. Arrival at the airport and check in for our flight was much more difficult than it needed to be but here we are. Our class went to Barcelona because a biennial landscape architecture conference was happening, but also because we wanted to go to Barcelona.

We landed in the city after a very early flight and took a train to the subway station where we sweat our way to the hotel. After dropping off our bags, we headed over to Park Guell, designed by famous architect Antoni Gaudi.



Our coordinator took us on a tour around the city, down busy streets and through lively plazas and parks. Las Ramblas, a busy pedestrian walkway, and the Barcelona Cathedral. He left us to go do work and we explored a bit, then had lunch at a tapas place.

In the evening, we went to the opening ceremony of the conference. A bunch of my friends had spent last summer in Barcelona, in a study abroad studio, and all lefter after the opening to get food. But an another classmate who speaks fluent Spanish and already knew her way around the city took a few friends an I to a less-touristy seafood place. We ordered appetizers, a pitcher of sangria, and an absolutely fantastic seafood paella!

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The next day, we attended some presentations in the morning, then went to an open air market for lunch. It was bright and colorful, with vendors selling fruit, juices, pastries, and meats. One stand had samples of salsa and chips. Without reading the label, I took a scoop of salsa and popped it in my mouth. Then Logan told me the salsa was made with ghost peppers. They are very hot.

A few of us then decided to go see the Sagrada Familia (also by Gaudi) which is a very famous cathedral. There were no tickets available to go inside so we just looked at the outside which was quite spectacular.

Instead of taking the sweaty subway back, we walked around the city and through the Arc d’Triomf park by the hotel.


For dinner our AIB coordinator, a lovely man, made us reservation at a tapas restaurant. We didn’t have to order anything, they just brought s a bunch of pre-ordered tapas. All delicious.

On our last full day, we went to a presentation before lunch, then took a trip to Casa Batllo, a house designed by Gaudi. It was cool to see, but all the rooms were empty to make space for the tourists. And there were a LOT of tourists!


Before the closing event and reception for the conference, a group of us decided to head down to the beach. I looked for cool rocks while a few people swam in the ocean.

In the morning, before heading out, Logan, Haoran, and I went with our AIB coordinator to a walk around the park. No one else came because they were all sleeping. Anyway, it was an enjoyable walk.

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A Hike Across the Rhine

Hi! This post was originally written on September 21st but I have been too lazy to post it. Enjoy.
Last weekend,  we went hiking to some castles and ruins. We took a ferry across the Rhine. The ride was short but the ferry captain was very friendly!

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It took us an hour to find the trail. We accidentally wandered into some industrial war house complex and a private residential road before finally finding our way. By the time we got there. My Fitbit had already reached 10,000 steps! I had assumed it was some small trial though the wooded mountains but it actually much more touristy. A wide, paved path started straight up an incredibly steep slope and we were all out of breath. Our first stop was a castle. We thought about walking around the grounds but we had to pay an entry fee. We hiked some more. The trail took us into the woods an by a tall rock mound that looked like a good place to stop for lunch. The next stop was at Drachenfels Ruins. The ruins were overrun with tourists but the view of Bonn was magnificent.

We ran into two there friends and continues hiking with them.

At one point along the path we found a grove of apple and pear trees so we picked a bunch for snacking.


Finally we sat down at the biergarten at Petersberg Hotel. It was relaxing and I ate some pretzels.

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The week was busy with class and excursions. On Wednesday we visited a museum exhibit about play structures which was really interesting! AND we got to play!

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Yesterday we walked around Köln for class, then went to a youth orchestra concert that was a mix of western and Indian music for Beethoven Fest.
Right now, I am on a plane headed for Berlin for the weekend. I am sitting in the very front and had to store my bag in the overhead for takeoff. I forgot to get my headphones out so now I must wait until we are in the air.

Aachen Site Visit

For the last three days (Monday through Wednesday, actually) our team of heroes has been in Aachen doing a site study for our studio. Aachen is a town on the border between German and the Netherlands. Literally a tiny scoot across the border is the neighboring town of Vaals, in the Netherlands. The history of the border itself is also quite interesting , although I can’t recall anything off the top of my head. Our site is focused on a main street that runs through both towns.

Looking toward the Netherlands side from Germany

For our site study, we had to observe, photograph, and sketch the place and choose something about the site that we wanted to investigate further. I chose graffiti after two days of indecision. Anyway, we stayed at a nice hostel by the train station. Some people enjoy having trains go by at night but these trains were not chugging, but screeching and whining across the tracks. Luckily, we walked so much every day that falling asleep wasn’t too difficult.

We spent a lot of time on site.

On Wednesday morning, we hiked to the three countries point where Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium meet.

Here I am sitting in all three countries at once

We also played on a playground which was quite fun.

In studio on Thursday, we had to compile all our photos and notes we made about our chosen focus and pin them up for a classic longer-than-Zoe-can-pay-attention-for group critique. I sat on the floor for some of it. There was a wide range of focuses from colors and textures across the site to the location and types of trash found and what that says about the area. The pin-up actually looked really cool because it was a jumble of loose paper instead of a finished board. This, however, did not detract from how long we had to sit there.

My pinup

Farms, Forests, and Fairs

This will be brief because I have to get up at 6:00 AM (It’s currently 12:14 AM but I’m not tired yet). Anyway, here’s the low-down on the last few days.

On Thursday, we took a day trip to Andernach, a permaculture town. It has a farm to generate revenue and it’s super neat.

They call the downtown area the “edible town” because there is an area where they grow produce that is available to the public for free. Here is a picture of it. It’s in an old moat.

Also, all throughout the pedestrian area are planter boxes with edible herbs, flowers, and such. Pretty swanky. At the end of our tour, they provided a nice spread of foods that were produced using the farm we had toured! It was delicious!

Friday was our first “Independent Study” day where we are free to travel or do whatever we like. A group of us got together, rented a car, and drove down to the Black Forest for a little camping trip. (Shout out to Ben for driving there and back because no one else knows how to drive stick). It was nice to sleep in a tent while wearing less than five layers of clothing (Which is what happened in Iceland). We had trouble finding a good place to hike on the first day and ended up wandering around some logging roads which were still pretty cool. Rain poured down on us for most of the afternoon but cleared up before the hike finished. Honestly, the woods looked a lot like Pennsylvania. Like if I saw a picture of where we were hiking and someone told me it was in PA, I’d be like, “Yeah, ok”.

There were more deciduous trees than I thought and it was also not quite as dark. Germany prohibits any camping not on a designated camping site so we stayed at a cute little campground that was reminiscent of Iceland. There were bathroom and a dish washing station and a covered table for gathering. OK I’m getting pretty tired, I will finish this tomorrow…

Hello it is many days after “tomorrow”. I was in Aachen for a site visit but that is a post for another day.

After our hike we played on a really fun playground and in this fountain that we think was spring fed and felt very cold and nice on our gross, sweaty feet.

In the evening we played some cards, then went to bed.

The next day we packed up an headed to another part of the forest, saw some beautiful vistas and interesting things along the trail, then decided to pay nine euro to walk along a super high boardwalk and up this crazy wood spiral structure.

Pretty crazy.

On Sunday, Logan and I went to this big festival held biannual across the river in Bonn called Pützchens Markt which is a huge festival with tons of food and carnival rides. The rides were expensive so Logan and I jut ate a lot of food instead.

“It’s an Honor to be a BONNer”

Today was my third day of classes. I have now spent 5 full days in Bonn! I haven’t gotten lost yet but I have successfully used public transportation and said “excuse me” and “Thank you” in German. I love walking through the plazas with cool cobble stone and paving patterns and past random, old and interesting buildings that have turned into restaurants and shops.

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Classes are going well, but it doesn’t really feel as much like class since the schedule is different every day and we are “out and about” much more. The AIB “campus” is a few buildings and an enclosed courtyard that we hang out in during lunch or between classes. My abhorrent sense of direction makes it difficult to orient my self anywhere but I am slowly seeing familiar places and remembering turns. We spent Saturday after we arrived just walking around the city. Exploring and what not.

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On Sunday, we went to a festival. Some of my friends are staying in the neighborhood in Bad Godesberg called Muffendorf. It’s an adorable medieval-looking town with cobble stone streets and half-timbered houses. They have a festival called Muffinale in the street with food and music and shops selling their things. The tiny streets were crowded with people!

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Monday was the first day of classes. Class was uneventful, although it was exciting to be using the train to go somewhere (We hadn’t really used it much before now). Afterwards, we went to the HARIBO outlet and bought a butt-load of gummy bears.


Today (Wednesday), we did a biking tour through Bonn. I thought that 17 students trying to navigate a foreign city on bikes would be a disaster but it actually ran pretty smoothly. We biked along the Rhine on both sides of the river and stopped at various places to rest, play on the playground, and eat paid-for ice cream. It was very hot and sweaty but overall quite enjoyable.

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