In the fall semester of 2007, I was accepted to and participated in the Syracuse University
Study Abroad Program in Florence, Italy. This program provided me the unique experience of
being completely immersed in another culture for four months, learning about thier country, thier
history and thier everyday lives. While living there, I studied three courses. A graduate design
studio; survey of Italian architecture, which was a weekend field trip, history, and sketch course
that took us all over Italy; and beginning Italian.
In the design studio, we began the semester by studying the historical language of Florence in
several small groups. My group studied the ancient walls of Florence, including the First City, the
Roman, the Byzantine, and the Carolingian walls, how they were purposely oriented and how they
continue to define the urban language of Florence today. In the second project of the semester,
we collaged our idea of Florence into a simple black box in many unique ways. The theme of the
project was taken from Marcel Duchamp’s readymade box projects.
The final project of the semester was to design a contemporary art museum at the Porta
Romana. The given site for the project was split down the center by the remains of the ancient
wall that was completed in 1333. There were several urban spaces that we needed to integrate
into the design. They were the Boboli Gardens, which came to a point at the north-east corner of
the site, the Institute of Art which had an existing entry bisecting the site on the east side, and the
Porta Romana and existing wall fragment on the north end of the site. The program called for an
entry space, ticket desk, cafe, lecture hall to seat 200, several indoor galleries, office space, a
proprietors office and various outdoor spaces as well.
I began the project by sketching several urban studies of the site and surrounding context,
including projection of edges, a sun diagram including shadows, figure/ground studies, and
several sections through the site showing the heights and facade patterns of the context. From
there, I made several small massing study models, to enable me to carve away and add masses
very quickly and easily to explore different building shapes and heights.
My overall idea was to incorporate the historical wall into the museum. I achieved this by using
it as a circulation center, and as a divider between the public and private sectors of the museum.
I chose to use ramps located in a circulation tower to simplify the circulation of the museum.
In the survey of Italian architecture course, we would leave every other Friday morning for a
two night long trip to different cities in Italy. We traveled to places such as Monterrigioni, Gubbio,
Mantua, Bologna, Venice, Sienna, San Gimignano, Pienza, Vicenza, Rome, Milan and several other
cities. While there, we would stop at various places to discuss the its historical significance of the
site and then we would be given between thirty minutes to one hour to sketch the space.
Status: School Project