Warning: This first entry is going to be long and rambling.
I’m currently in the midst of a major life change and I’m looking forward to documenting it here on the school blog project. I have always enjoyed reading everyone else’s school blogs, and now that I have my own I feel like I have been admitted to the cool kids club.
First, a little bit about my background. I grew up as a Navy brat in Jacksonville, Florida
(the largest city by land mass in the USA). From there, I started my long journey into architecture at the University of Florida
. After graduating with a B.Des. in 2000, I moved to St. Petersburg, Florida and worked for a firm in Tampa for about a year. Then I went Georgia Tech
and finished with my M.Arch. in 2003. After graduating I returned to St. Petersburg where I have been practicing professionally ever since. From graduation until March of 2005 I worked for Lyman Davidson Dooley
, the same firm that I worked with prior to graduate school. At LDD, I worked primarily on shopping centers and other developer driven type stuff. Not exactly glamorous work, but I really learned how to put buildings together and run projects. In March 2005, my career took an unexpected turn when I accepted a position with the City of St. Petersburg. As a Senior Capital Projects Coordinator, I knew that I wasn’t going to be working directly on the design of projects, but I was able to foster good design from the client side of things. While at the City, I was privileged to work on several major projects with one of the top design firms in the Tampa Bay area, Wannemacher Jensen Architects
. Finally, throughout 2007 I started thinking about returning to school to pursue a Ph.D. Although it was definitely something that I wanted to do, I was a little bit reticent about leaving a very good paying job to go back to academia. Luckily, my wife has been very supportive and encouraged me to do what I want to do.
This brings us to November 2007 when I resigned from my position with the City. I took off the month of December to concentrate on the school application process. I applied to Michigan, Princeton, Harvard, Georgia Tech, and Penn. After finishing the application process, I launched my own firm, DUAL:workshop, in January 2008. I was working primarily as an independent contractor for a few firms around St. Pete, but I was also able to work on a few solo projects and competitions as well.
Now I’m getting ready to move back from the professional world and into academia as a Ph.D. student at Penn. We've been in Philadelphia for one week now and we're starting to get settled in. We're about 90% unpacked and the main thing left for us to do is to hang all of our pictures and artwork. Our drive from St. Petersburg was pretty uneventful considering that I was driving a 22-foot Penske truck for the first time. I was ready to sit for my CDL by the time we rolled into Philly last Friday. Probably the most interesting part of the drive was as we were crossing the Howard Frankland Bridge from St. Petersburg into Tampa and Elton John's Philadelphia Freedom
came on the radio. We thought that was a pretty good omen that our move was going to go well.
I'm really excited about our new neighborhood. Northern Liberties
was Philadelphia's second suburb and is now one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the city. There are a lot of cool shops and restaurants, as well as Liberty Lands Park
and the Orianna Hill Dog Park
, within a few blocks. It is located just to the northeast of Center City and is a quick subway ride to pretty much anywhere that we'd want to go in the city. We sold our second car before leaving Florida, so we are now carless. As such, we've jumped whole-heartedly into big city living and using public transportation. Also, some time next week I should get my membership stuff from Philly Car Share
, so we'll be able to use a car to run to Ikea or Target or wherever.
I think that this will be a good home base for me given my research interests. Our elevated subway station is located above the median of I-95 which is appropriate given my interests in hybrid infrastructures. I also have a great skyline view from my desk (see above photo at dusk) which will be nice on the long nights of writing papers.
With all of that being said, I'm now getting really excited to be getting back to school. All of the orientation stuff starts on Monday. Orientation includes the obligatory campus tour, computer orientation, fabrication lab orientation, a walking tour of Philadelphia, and a Phillies game.
The semester starts on September 3rd and my schedule is currently shaping up to include the following classes:
Writing on Architecture (Prof. Witold Rybcynski)
Architectural Research (Prof. David Leatherbarrow)
Proseminar in Urban Studies (Prof. Michael Katz)
Concepts and Theories in Contemporary Landscape Architecture (Prof. Anita Berrizbeitia)
In addition to pursuing the PhD, I will also be working towards the Graduate Certificate in Urban Studies. This program is geared toward PhD students that are doing urban research, so it is pretty much in line with what I'm planning on doing over the next few years.
So, that’s all for now. Sorry to be so rambling, but hey, I warned you at the top. Since I’m a Ph.D. student, I won’t really have any cool design stuff to show you, but I’ll try to keep the blog interesting nonetheless.