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The Best of America’s Modern Architecture

Top of the Rock – New York City

January – February 2019

Hello! Here I am, back in Sydney after a month-long whirlwind of a trip to the other side of the world. Travelling to the United States, I was one of 28 people who undertook a subject which saw us visit architecture by the likes of Mies Van Der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid.

Starting off our journey in New York City, we were given the opportunity to roam free in the Big City. Loosely planning our days based on a list of buildings given to us in the subject outline, I think it is safe to say that NYC provided us with days jam packed full of fun, adventure and exploration. Getting around on the Subway made us immediately feel like New-Yorkers and let us get from A to B with ease. Not only is the subway cheap, it is also full of surprises – including some of the best buskers I have ever heard. While in New York we visited Central Park, the Met, MoMa, the Guggenheim, SANAA’s New Museum, The Statue of Liberty (via the Staten Island Ferry), the Oculus by Calatrava, the 9/11 Memorial Pools and Museum, One World Trade Centre, Time’s Square… the list goes on. I think its safe to say that there is always something to do in NYC.

The Guggenheim – New York City

A couple of other highlights included going to an NBA game at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn. A NY derby saw the New York Knicks play against the Brooklyn Nets, and boy did they put on a show! When in New York be sure to get to a basketball or ice hockey game… the hype is something not to be missed. Another highlight was dollar pizza… I mean who doesn’t love pizza, especially when it costs only one dollar?!! We went to 2 Bros pizza on 8th Ave. It was fresh, hot and deliciously cheesy… and crazy cheap of course! My final favourite NYC moment was visiting the High Line. If you love architecture, cute dogs or just seeing cool stuff you must take a walk along the High Line. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the High Line is an elevated walkway that has repurposed a derelict metro line into a corridor of green space. Approximately 3 miles long, the High Line is surrounded by projects from the likes of Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Jeanne Gang. Walking along, I couldn’t help but take way too many photographs. It is pretty much architectural heaven.

The Oculus – World Trade Center, New York City

Moving on to Chicago, we touched down on the tarmac hours before the Polar Vortex hit. With temperatures dropping to -35 degrees, -45 degrees with wind chill, I had never been so cold in my entire life. It was reported as the coldest day in Chicago since 1985 and hit temperatures below the North Pole AND Antarctica. All this crazy weather meant that our first day in Chicago was cancelled, but there was nothing stopping us from visiting the Farnsworth House the following morning.

Despite the crippling cold, the Farnsworth House was utterly incredible. Surrounded by almost 4 feet of snow, Mies’ glass masterpiece was an incredible sight. Despite the subzero conditions outside, inside the Farnsworth House was warm and cozy. This was quite shocking given that the house is made entirely from single-pane glass and structural steel.

Farnsworth House – Chicago

Other highlights from Chicago included Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion, The Bean (CloudArch), The Sullivan Centre, The Monadnock Building (featuring the first Chicago Bay Window), and Jeanne Gang’s Aqua Tower. Overall, I totally loved Chicago and would love to go back when the weather is warmer!

The Bean (CloudArch) – Chicago

We then made our way to Los Angeles for the final leg of the trip. It was a welcome relief to strip some of our winter layers and enjoy warmer temperatures. Checking in at a beachy Santa Monica hotel, we started off our LA leg with a free weekend. Exploring Third Street Promenade, it was nice have a day to do a bit of relaxed shopping and looking around.

Some highlights included a trip to San Diego where we visited the Neurosciences Institute and Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute. A trip to downtown LA included a visit to Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall, the Broad and the Bradbury Building. We were also given the incredible opportunity to spend a day at Frank Gehry’s architecture firm which left everyone mind-blown. The Sheats-Goldstein residence was another stand out project we visited. With a multi-million dollar view of LA and a private nightclub for Mr Goldstein’s events and parties, this house had everyone in awe. With crazy architectural complexity and attention to detail this house was almost too much to take in!

All in all, our trip to the US was packed full of experiences that I will never forget. It was a great way to meet new people, learn about both myself and my profession, and see things that I will never see again. A trip of a lifetime.

– Hannah Hill-Wade

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