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    Panama Frank and friends

    Nick Sowers Jan 8 '09 8

    I'm here in Panama at the beginning of my Branner fellowship, looking at the decommissioned US bases. Our military left in 99, and since then Fort Amador at the mouth of the canal has been growing as a tourist destination. Lots of restaurants have popped up along the causeway which leads out from the mainland to several islands. A number of military buildings are just rotting away. Oddly, there were bags of leaves that someone had collected in the yard around but the inside of the buildings was a nightmare. Broken glass, torn off doors, shattered wash basins… The decay of the military buildings is being manicured, it seems.
     
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    I was walking past this big construction site with a bunch of steel flying in every which direction and I thought--wow, who is this Panama Frank Gehry? Lo and behold, it is a Gehry building under construction! They are building a "musuem of biodiversity" on a corner of the old military base.
     
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    Panama is very interesting in terms of being a poor cousin to the States. They use the same currency, even down to the penny, though they do mint their own coins which have heads of natives instead of presidents. Both are accepted. Aside from the usual McD's, KFC and whatnot, you can get Bennigan's, TGI Fridays, Shell Oil with V-power. We aren´t alone in feasting upon this country. For example the Chinese have a big presence here. Where else do you get chow mein and pollo asada on the same menu?
     
    The country is getting richer. The canal continues to expand and apparently US citizens can buy citizenship for a $30,000 bond. After all, Panama can afford a Gehry.

     

     
    • 8 Comments

    • mantaray
      Jan 8, 09 10:21 pm

      The Chinese are currently feasting upon Angola, too.

      So wait, how can Panama accept American currency as currency? I don't get it.

      b3tadine[sutures]
      Jan 8, 09 10:52 pm

      argh! another FGP?

      Nick SowersNick Sowers
      Jan 10, 09 4:49 pm

      Nicolas,
      Excellent. Please bring back some of those Panama pennies as souvenirs. Can't beat the price
      And how about the pictures with you in it.
      Bubbles

      David CuthbertDavid Cuthbert
      Jan 11, 09 2:12 pm

      almost anyone can use US currency as an informal tender, but formal trading particular for social services (post, hospital, etc) has to use local tender.

      Great capture Nick, I wouldn't imagine a Gehry in Panama either but they sure do have enough money flowing through their waters - so why not

      Carlos Eduardo
      Jan 16, 09 10:52 pm

      Hi,
      My name is Carlos Eduardo Rodriguez. I will get my degree in architecture in couple of months. Its being interesting that someone from UC Berkeley Architecture has writen something about the city. I have a blog about architecture and the city if you want to know something more focused on architecture. Recently Panama Art Biennial was focused on Old Panama Canal Zone trought artsy vision.
      www.bienalpanama.org

      Carlos Eduardo Rodriguez
      cerodriguez@cableonda.net
      www.arq507.blogspot.com

      Pd. Nick if you are still here give a phone call 6578-5854.

      Carlos Eduardo
      Jan 17, 09 8:51 pm

      To the ones interesting in Old Panama Canal Zone I would recomend to check some pictures taken by Sam Sweezy, who along with Kurt Dillon and Roger Trancik (both from Cornell University) had an exhibition in Ithaca (Cornell University) and Panama City (Universidad de Panamá) about this heritage.

      http://www.samsweezyphotography.com/#a=0&at=0&mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=0&p=0

      Carlos Eduardo
      Jan 17, 09 9:04 pm

      Here another link about Museo de la Biodiversidad by Mr. Ghery. Its a Darien Montañez (photo flickr) who works there...He always upload advacement of contruction works.
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/contraquien/sets/72157610666639372/

      Orhan AyyüceOrhan Ayyüce
      Jan 17, 09 9:05 pm

      great pictures.

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