Columbia University, GSAPP 2014-2016

what am I getting myself into?



Aug '14 - Oct '14

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    Apartment Hunting and Thinking of Olmsted

    Martina Dolejsova
    Aug 13, '14 5:19 PM EST

    I was told that finding an apartment in New York is one of the most stressful and difficult things you can do.  I’m apt to agree.  And if you don’t mind the comparison, it’s like buying a house in Los Angeles.  Everything in your price range goes quickly and so you have to know what you want and act fast, and there’s always a better place (that you think is better) just a little more expensive.  And dwelling on the imperfections will just keep you from getting anything. 


    So after one week of looking I’m without an apartment although I was close.  I saw an apartment off of 107th and Broadway in a brownstone walkup, one hour too late.  Another person expressed interest and was first in line to get it.  I’m still on the hunt.


    Last Friday I went out to Brooklyn to meet another student in the program, named Gabrielle (Gabby) Printz.  We talked about how it looks like there may be a higher percentage of women in our year and that this was a good sign.  In a field that’s consistently been dominated by male ego, having more women who help create the conversations is always welcome.  [This conversation also happened before the exciting announcement of Amale Andraos as new dean]  We chatted about figuring things out in New York and again, the search for an apartment.  She’s looking in Brooklyn, and I’m still stubborn enough to believe that I can live close to campus in a pristine neighborhood for little to no money.  My search is starting to extend further away but not yet as far as Brooklyn…it could happen. 


    On Sunday I went and saw another apartment off 81st street a few blocks away from Central Park and after being disappointed that it wouldn’t work for me (as I really wanted it to because of the location), I stopped by a convenience store, bought a Sunday edition of the New York Times and a glazed donut and walked into the Park.  It may have been a subtle way of really making sure that I wanted to say no to the apartment, because who can give up living three blocks away unless it really isn’t a good fit.  I walked down a small path that was by a small dirt pit that had been set up for preschooler’s soccer and kids were laughing as they kicked balls around.  I found a bench a few hundred feet away where the shade of an oak tree blocked the sun.   After reading through several of the sections my mind began to wander and I started to think of Olmsted and the history of his involvement prior to the park’s design and it’s conception. 


    Frederick Law Olmsted was made a superintendent of the land before it ever became a park.  He oversaw workers preparing land between 82nd and 89th street that had been designated a park site but designs were yet to be drawn.  When a competition came in 1857 to design a central park, a landscape designer named Calvert Vaux asked Olmsted to collaborate with him after his original partner was in an accident and had died.  Vaux knew that Olmsted had no prior design experience but that Olmsted’s firsthand knowledge of the land would be a vital ingredient to any design proposed.  It was with this opportunity that Olmsted demonstrated not only an awareness of the land but also a temperament of the sensibilities for nature in an urban environment.  The design for the landscape, while seemingly natural, was made-up to reflect an untouched environment that could have existed prior to its habitation.  Their proposal which went from 59th Street to 110th Street, was beyond comparison to the other designs which have been said were not even considered.  

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About this Blog

A blog that records my two years in the Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices of Architecture Program at the GSAPP. Posts will explore the program, New York's architecture and urban design and has the potential to envelope the west coast as well. Having spent the last 6 years in L.A., my intended thesis will look at the the west coast (and hopefully the school will give me the objective distance I need!).

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