The Architectural Imagination Exhibition Fellows

The U.S. Department of State selected University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning to organize the exhibition of the U.S. Pavilion in the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale (May 28-Nov. 27). Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon are Co-Curators of the U.S. Pavilion, The Architectural Imagination (

  • Bread & Tulips

    Salam Rida
    Jun 7, '16 3:54 PM EST

    When in Italy another wonderful way to see the city other than its architecture is to eat your way thru it, mangia tutto, eat all you can.

    I was partial to gelato and fish, however not in that order. I’m generally not a fan of advertising places to go on blogs (unless I’m getting paid to do so ;P) but for Venice I will put my issues aside to help out the many that flock every year for one of the Biennales. 

    Here are a list of my favorite places that I visited and a few tricks, tips, and anecdotes to accompany them.

    La Mela Verde

    Not only a gelato haven but a true innovator in the world of consuming it. Specializing in what is called the “concreppe” a supremely heavenly combination of gelato, nutella, and warmth. The second you look at it you gain 5 lbs and honestly I indulged in everything I could get my hands on. You walk so much around Venice that you shouldn’t even try to limit yourself from anything because of weight gain, it practically melts off your body like this exquisite gelato combo.


    The interior of this place is wonderful, a recommendation from our electrician at the US Pavilion. When you walk in you are greeted by a friendly tall man, Giuseppe, who later comes into play a pivotal role in our culinary adventure. We sit down and order a bottle of prosecco. I love prosecco, I did have a fear that I would get sick of it in Italy but I am extremely addicted to carbonation and there is something about the crisp tartness of an Italian wine that keeps me hooked. Later Kristen and I receive the mixed seafood and vegetable plate which held some of the best clams, mussels, and cod that I have had since arriving to Venice. We ate at a variety of super fancy restaurants in Venice but this one takes the cake for having the freshest fish variety accompanied with the best selection of vegetables. Afterwards, we ordered the linguine con scampi (for two) which we couldn’t even finish and sheepishly passed away (even though we totally wanted to take it to go). When at any restaurant Kristen becomes the best at making friends. We strike up a conversation with Giuseppe who later brings us cake, cookies, port wine, limoncello, and espresso to end the meal. He was the extra friendly type that your mother tells you to watch out for, in the end he was incredibly harmless and fun! A character that made our meal very sweet.


    Oh man, this place. Best gelato. Go now! I’m still dreaming about this place. They did have a funny flavor.

    Local Ristorante

    This is the place you go if you’re feeling fancy or have money to burn. After the Peggy Guggenheim party I was invited to attend a late dinner with DJ Blake Baxter, Demetri a notorious space-maker in Berlin, and some of the faculty who worked on the US Pavilion. The Guggenheim party was incredible, yet short lived. Just as Blake was dropping some acid trax we were asked to leave promptly at 9 pm and the party started at 7 pm. The staff was not interested in having people linger and kicked everyone out, regardless of their “stararchitect status”, Preston Scott Cohen was being shoved out right alongside me. Equals at last! Once exiting the Guggenheim we missed our initial water taxi from the front entrance of the Guggenheim and so there we were, Kristen, Mark (works for MOS), and myself. We were walking along the canal and I was wearing stilettos in Venice, which was its own obstacle. My feet were killing me and we could not find the water taxi designated pick up stop, so what did I do? Like an American I hailed a water taxi off the pier, waving my hand back and forth shouting “senorrraay” across the canal. A man pulls up and we get in, Kristen finds herself in the driver's seat while Mark and I dance in the back standing on the seats, wind in our hair, the night sky above us, going pretty fast (thanks Kristen). I love the water taxis, they're a bit expensive but totally worth it.

    Finally we arrive at Local and it was fabulous. We were served a five course meal, known as the tasting menu, the pace was perfect. Our first dish was my favorite, it was a cracker of sorts with a sardine and peanut butter in between. Literally, the first and only time I have ever encountered my favorite savory spread on anything. It was fantastic. The second to last dish was also incredible, small but powerful. A scoop of elderflower sorbet and candied celery. I have never had anything so refreshing in my life. It was like having water for the first time after being stranded on a desert island. Extremely gratifying.

    In any event, just ask around instead of searching online, make an afternoon of it and experience what you can within the moment. Testing out and seeing new ways to view the world through food is just one of the wonderful opportunities this magical city has to offer, Venice- the city of love(ly food).

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  • US Pavilion Vernissage

    Ramon Hernandez
    Jun 3, '16 7:20 PM EST

    The opening day of the U.S. Pavilion was a moment of gratification and clarity. The countless hours of work from the Curators and Staff were greeted by thousand of visitors from around the world.The exhibition rooms were full of guests who were actively engaged in asking curators, exhibitors, and... View full entry

  • The Wonderful - Explorations in the Giardini : Japan

    Kristen Gandy
    Jun 1, '16 5:49 PM EST

    Stories from behind the curtains by Kristen Gandy, M. Arch – Taubman College University of MichiganThe Wonderful - Explorations in the Giardini : JapanWith many pavilions to see in the Giardini, it can be overwhelming to choose which to see in one day. Walking into the Japanese Giardini pavilion... View full entry

  • An Arsenal of Models

    Ramon Hernandez
    May 25, '16 2:40 PM EST

    The 2016 Venice Biennale Vernissage is in full effect! This post brings you snapshots of the Venice Arsenale exhibitions trough the deployment of the architectural model.The following images are a few of the models presented from countries around the world, an... View full entry

  • Unpacking the U.S. Pavilion

    Ramon Hernandez
    May 25, '16 6:35 AM EST

      Here is a look back at the early stages of unpacking the work of 12 invited architects for the US. Pavilion. Careful storage of the fragile artifacts, some accompanied by diagrams and others with no  instructions, echoed the theme of what the 6 Venice Biennale Fellows would face as we... View full entry

  • Seamless City

    Ramon Hernandez
    May 25, '16 5:39 AM EST

      It takes a short walk and a few wrong turns to understand that the city of Venice is a labyrinth. The seamless city is only heighten by winding perspectives of facades. Most importantly the seamless buildings, where program and housing come together with the narrow paths of strictly pedestrian... View full entry

  • The Unforeseen

    Kristen Gandy
    May 24, '16 2:54 PM EST

    Stories from behind the curtains by Kristen Gandy, M. Arch – Taubman College University of MichiganWe really had a crate week. Photo credit: Deniz McGeeThe Most Important Room in the Pavilion. Photo credit: Kristen Gandy The UnforeseenAfter a night of adjusting to the time change, the first... View full entry

  • The Unheralded

    Kristen Gandy
    May 22, '16 2:45 PM EST

    Stories from behind the curtains by Kristen Gandy, M. Arch – Taubman College University of MichiganThe email congratulating us on being selected to serve as fellows to the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale came immediately following my final Propositions studio presentation and a full night... View full entry

  • The Anonymous Venetian

    Salam Rida
    May 21, '16 5:07 AM EST

    Walking into the wind, I am a bit uncomfortable but mostly enthralled by what’s around me. Venice. On my first day I was standing outside of a hotel that our water taxi driver casually dropped us off at, not the location we intended, but whatever, I’m just happy that I can smoke a cigarette... View full entry

  • Body of Work to Work of the World

    Christopher Locke
    May 21, '16 4:28 AM EST

    Architecture: A formal language of communicative drawings that display a plethora of ideologies and thought. These drawings, not limited by line, represent a broad culture of world thinkers and opportunities that are both challenging and thought provoking. The Venice Biennale is a consortium of... View full entry

  • The Venice Arrival

    Ramon Hernandez
    May 20, '16 8:57 AM EST

    Architectural imagination is our ongoing intuition and ability as designers to ask; what if my home, my city, or building could be more like this?...My fascination for the city of Venice was as immediate as our approach from the water taxi to the narrow mesmerizing canals of the city! The... View full entry

  • Rules on Arriving in Venice

    Diana Tsai
    May 20, '16 8:34 AM EST

    The Do's and Dont's of preparing for the Biennale as experienced by yours truly- Foodie, connoisseur of all things beautiful and recent M.Arch grad, Diana Tsai. When packing for a Biennale place all drill bits, blue tape and scales in checked baggageWhen bringing bags of modeling foliage through... View full entry

  • Sketching Across the Atlantic

    Rubin Quarcoopome
    May 19, '16 9:06 PM EST

    The flight to Venice ended up being an excuse to sketch everything I saw around me, in the coach Delta cabin overlooking a plane wing with a trembling engine. That's certainly what I usually did, after all, and just because I was in - or above, I suppose - a different country didn't mean I'd stop... View full entry

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About this Blog

Six Taubman College M.Arch students were selected to assist the curators of the U.S. Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale in installing The Architectural Imagination. The students will travel to Venice for one month as Exhibition Fellows. They will serve as docents for the opening days of the exhibition. This blog is about their experience working on the 2016 U.S. Pavilion and in Venice. Students: Kristen Gandy Ramon Hernandez Christopher Locke Rubin Quarcoopome Salam Rida Diana Tsai

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