Aug '05 - Jan '11
I will do one more entry as a post-graduate update. The following is taken from an update for friends and family, and I'm not able to share very much information about the work I am doing, for obvious reasons, so please excuse the non-intellectual content and touristic pictures.
All I can say is that the work is challenging, the atmosphere is intense but amiable, and I am learning a lot on the job. I am on the competitions team and have been given the responsibility of 3d modeling on a large commercial project that will soon begin construction. The model will be used by the engineers and project team to develop construction documents. I have also been doing cost management and design in conjunction with modeling, and in the future the office wants to try out my rendering skills. Needless to say, I have my hands full but I am taking to it like a fish to water.
I write to you during my first true break since arriving in Rome. I arrived last Monday and started work on Tuesday morning. Jet lagged and living in a hostel, I began work on the 3d model for a competition project in Bratislava. The office atmosphere is intense, but lively. I met Fuksas himself a few days ago; he has a reputation in the office for being, shall we say, extremely particular and demanding, but of course he was nothing but charming and polite in our introduction. "You come in the most difficult period!" he said.
With a deadline on Monday (today), I worked straight through the week and weekend (8-10 hour days), and as of yet I have not had a day off to do my laundry, go to the supermarket, etc. Nonethless, I have managed in the meantime to find a great flat in Testaccio, a true Italian neighborhood in the center. The south side of the neighborhood is known for its clubs and bars, but the residential north end is a collection of quiet streets with a daily market, little stores, and the world-famous Volpetti meat and cheese shop. My flat-mate is an older American man working as a private tour guide and also finishing a degree in Archeology. He is fluent in Italian and French, and though we haven't had the chance to hang out too much, he will no doubt be helpful for both. I have my own room with a small bed, table, closet, and WiFi. Everything I need. We have access to an enormous and beautiful rooftop terrace that looks up at the Aventine Hill, among other things. (We do have a couch, and though I haven't broached the subject with my roommate, there is the possibility for a guest or two...) The bus takes me from Testaccio to Campo dei Fiori (Largo Argentina) in 10 minutes, or as I often choose to do, I can walk along the banks of the Tiber, past Isla Tiburina, and arrive at the office in 25 minutes.
The office itself occupies 3-4 floors in a beautiful palazzo just 100 meters from Campo dei Fiori itself. The courtyard balconies outside our studio function as the circulation between the various departments of the office; it's quite pleasant at the moment to go outside every time you need to visit the model shop or the production team, the weather is absolutely beautiful. 74 by day, 55 by night. I'm told it's not bad, but not quite as pleasant in the winter or when it's raining. Our studio has windows on three sides, which means we work entirely by natural light until about 6 or 7pm. The smells of Roma are indeed dominated by fumes and exhaust in the busy streets, but away from the bustle, one of our windows opens above the courtyard of a pasticceria, and so in the morning we are treated to the aroma of fresh-baked pastries.
I am hoping for a day off this week to get some household type stuff done, but for sure I will get some time this next weekend. In the meantime, the atmosphere is much more relaxed now that the client meeting is over. And despite not having much time to myself, the long lunches in the center, the beautiful Italian people, and the ridiculously picturesque walks and bus-rides to and from work are more than enough to sustain me until I have a chance to explore on my own time.
Finally, after years and years of resistance, I may become a coffee drinker after all. But I am fighting it, for the fear of trying to survive without Italian coffee.
You can find these and more uncropped, hi-res pictures on my Flickr account.