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 (

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    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 and walk on land. I Immediately fall in love. The streets are entrancing, the original social network, where all people find a space to interact. Where our clothes are touched. Where our phones get crushed by the cobblestones. Where we eavesdrop. A space, despite all of these possible conflicts, still remains the spaces we pour into day after day. A stage upon which we demonstrate who we are and what we are made of. I must try to soak this all in.

    The roman roads, the greatest military technology and an architectural labyrinth. The old roman empires rose and ended where their roads did. As I walk to my apartment  I imagine for a second what it would be like to be a soldier fighting along these walls. Today we scan them, take photos of textures for later, and stroll into their interiors. A dialogue lingers between us, there is something powerful about them. A history, that sucks you in as you observe what happens to these streets as modernity takes place around it. Documented and tagged, section by section, the alleys of Italy become excavated, analyzed, and sent off into the etherscapes.

    Coming from Detroit, there is an interesting comparison that exists between these two cities. Venice was originally known as one of the largest industrial enterprises in history, known as the Venetian Arsenal or in Italian the Arsenale di Venezia. Similarly, in Detroit there was a period of time where it existed as a major industrial center, known as the Arsenal of Democracy, which today has left the city in a state of bankruptcy and is currently undergoing a recovery.

    However, what is it that made these places so different overtime? What is it about Venice that Detroit is missing out on? What can I learn here and bring back with me? These are the questions I will be asking myself while traveling.

    My first realization is that life exists on the ground floor in Venice. Most people live in very modest apartments but you experience life outside of that. Then there is the piano nobile, where secondary stories can be told. The windows are beautiful articulations that create intimate apertures for people to see the world. And in Venice they are everywhere. As I stroll the city on my way to the Giardini every morning I like to look into these Venetian windows and gush over their palladian forms generating a sense of curiosity, prompting questions about who lives there, what do they do, and what is the old woman in the window thinking about as she quickly lays out her white linens to dry.

    Stay tuned and for more photographs of what is happening please feel free to check out my instagram @harlequinbaby 


    • Margaret Matz


      Ciao and salaam... to be a Venetian... where were your ancestors from? Venice's Arabic name was Al Bunduquiyya (The Curved). I like your blog. I encourage you to immerse yourself more deeply into Venice's history.. 


      May 22, 16 2:07 pm  · 
      Kos Scarpa Kos

      ... you can visit the hipster hangouts of Venice... in the district (Santa Croce) where I am: Punto COsteria da FiloMetri2Spazio Ponte, etc...

      May 22, 16 2:46 pm  · 
      Margaret Matz


      Please also visit, a Venetian/American contribution to the Architecture Biennale 2014. 


      May 22, 16 3:00 pm  · 

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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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