May 182016

Tomorrow is a big day for me.  For the first time in 16 years, I’ll be attending the AIA national convention.  It is being held in Philadelphia this year, which gets my travel costs down to a few days in a parking garage.  As a young architect with a growing family, I have never been able to travel out of state for previous conventions.  In fact, the last convention I attended was also in Philadelphia, and I was still a student.  Now as I prepare to return to the Pennsylvania Convention Center with my fellow architects, all the excitement of studying architecture is coming back.

Drexel Studio Project: A pavilion for free speech on Independence Mall

I think the excitement is coming back because not only have I worked on many real design and construction projects in the city, but I have studied it and designed projects in it with the freedom of a student.  While I was studying architecture at Drexel University, the city really was our classroom.  I remember walking to the Rittenhouse Square area to sketch Row Homes.  We explored Independence Mall in preparation for designing pavilions for free speech.  We walked Boat House Row to find a site for research institute.  We visited Manyunk to design a train station, and Venice Island for apartment housing.  We visited many buildings by Frank Furness, including the bank on our own campus.  And, of course, we designed a new college building (a school of architecture, to be exact) in University City.

I have also worked on some exciting real, built projects in the City: a new science building for Lasalle University, many renovations at the University of Pennsylvania, proposals for high rise housing developments, renovations for the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, research laboratories in the Unversity City Science Center, and more.  They have all been challenging and rewarding in different ways.  And all of them have contributed to making me a wiser, and hopefully better, Architect.

Hopefully,the next few days at the AIA Convention will stir up memories of those past projects and add some new knowledge and insights that will continue to shape and propel my career forward into the future.  Maybe, I’ll even find out If There’s  A Better Way Of Doing It!

Be sure to drop me a tweet if you’re at the convention in Philadelphia.  If you’re reading this after the fact, did you visit Philly?  If so, what did you gain from the experience?

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