Garden Redesign

My studio garden was given a break this past week to focus on family. Part of that family time was spent replanting some lovely new flowers, shrubs, and bulbs into pleasant window arrangments.

These new transplants and arrangements I hope will work. I am a little nervous about the state of my violets who have begun to yellow since the transition. A window tint or shade may be in my near future to help extend my gardens life. For now I will be trying to keep it looking a lovely and fresh as the photos below!



Plants pictured here were mostly from Home Depot or came with me when I moved to Philadelphia. Small houseplants can also be purchased closer to campus at the Supremo (43rd and Walnut), Fresh Grocer (40th and Walnut), and Farmers Markets (Wednesday on 36th and Walnut is best). Soil purchases are best made at the Home Depot where you can get a lot more soil than simply what is in the plants pot. Best of luck gardening!


A Week of Thanks

I had the privilege of hosting my family this Thanksgiving in my apartment in Philadelphia. Seven people all snuggled together under one roof for a full week!

While we may not have hit every tourist trap in the city we did manage a few rides around the city to see the sights. We ventured out to see the school, the markets around town, the christmas market, El Rey for tacos, Home Depot for flowers, and out to the countryside. After a long day out warm nights inside sharing meals and warm hot chocolate around a movie reminded me of days back home.

The quiteness of the apartment after a week activity is unnerving. I enjoy the chaos and bussyness that it is having a full house. Something is always going on. It is just the kind of lively that keeps my mind buzzing and my heart happy. As I am sure it does with everyone this time of year. I hope everyone had a happy holiday!

Externship Excitement! Application Process

PennDesign’s first externship program launched this October. This is an exciting opportunity to get work experience and exposure to a variety of architectural offices.

An externship is a week to two week long work or shadowing opportunity typically completed during school breaks (winter or spring). In comparison an internship is a longer, typically 3 months or more, work or shadowing opportunity typically completed during summer breaks.  While internships are paid, externships may or may not be paid. This is inpart due to the shorter time length and the amount of work you’d produce for a firm in that time.

Since externships are shorter they are much better for understanding general work environment, skills to focus on developing further, and your specific interests (commercial versus residential work, etc). An externship gives you the opportunity to identify what to refine to better open doors for yourself in future.

This year PennDesign held an open lecture introducing the externship program. 14-22 firms cooperated with PennDesign to create externship opportunities. The two page application in addition to a resume and 3 MB max portfolio were due on October 10th.

In this application process getting the portfolio to 3 MB was really important. I flattened, saved as, exported as, and compressed my portfolio file a million times it seemd. At first the downsaves made large leaps. The last “handful” resulted in miniscule progress of .1 kb each time. Seriously save time to save to the right size. Exporting as and adjusting the downsampling rates can save the portfolio as a smaller size but still beautiful graphics as opposed to compressing which can make very pixelated portfolios. For future looking into saving files at a high quality but small file size will definitely be helpful.

It has been a long wait and is nearly over! This last week of november Career Services will be emailing out the results of firm and student matches. I am hopeful and eager to get to work!

Updates to come when results are in.


First Snow of the Season!

The snow turned out a little too early. My family has come up for Thanksgiving and were soo excited that it might snow. Two of my sisters have yet to see this freezing cold but beautiful weather event.

Sadly the weather was ahead of itself and happened just last week. There was no chance of it sticking either. While my siblings didn’t get to see it, it was wonderful to see some of my classmates celebrating their first snow! It reminds me of my first sighting and the joy of runnig around, making little snow people, and marveling at each little snowflake. I remember the surprise that snow flakes actually had shapes and that wasn’t just something they made up in movies or under microscopes.

Thankfully this year I have a better wardrobe to make the snow warm and still pretty!

Thanksgiving for the Neighborhood

Rebuilding Together Philadelphia:

Thanksgiving is celebrated on the third Thursday of every November. This year I attended Penn’s Friendsgiving, a spin on the traditional holiday. This is a paid entry event between $5-6 dollars. The proceeds of the event are donated to a charity each year.

This year PennDesign teamed up with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia to host Friendsgiving.  The event resulted in nearly $1,000 dollar donation to Rebuilding Together Philadelphia which will go towards helping local homeowners repair and maintain their homes. This organization also has volunteer positions for those interested in taking a more active role in the rebuilding and maintaining the communties around them.

For international students this is a wonderful event to introduce them to this holiday tradition. Thanksgiving is as much about a specific set of dishes as gathering people together around one table to celebrate eachothers company. This is really wonderful as a mixer for the school. Students from different programs can enjoy a meal with eachother making new connections and learning ideas from a different field. Luckily enough I met several City Planning students amongst all the Architects and Landscape Architects which seemed to overwhelm the event.

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All in all it was a lovely evening with the wonderful surprise of continued giving and opportunity with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia!



Halloween’s Terror Behind the Walls!


This was a spooky Halloween break that several of my classmates and I took. This event is held annually during October at the Eastern State Penitentiary. I wrote a review previously of a daytime visit to the prison turned museum. It is a wonderful place to visit and should certainly be visited if you are in Philadelphia.

Terror Behind the Walls is a series of haunted house experiences woven throughout the prison-museum. Overall it was fun! I was hyping myself for a much more terrifying experience. The way it operates is that after entering you sign a release form, basically saying you won’t sue if you are scared to death. Then the show begins, after each house you immediately enter another line to go into the next haunted house. Along the way those who have opted for a more enhanced experience are approached, touched,
“kidnapped” or diverted to an alternate experience. These people are given red glow in the dark necklaces to stand out to the event staff/actors.

Unfortunately for me all my friends opted in by the end of the event and so I was ultimately divereted into a different experience, isolated from them. However, this last house, the one I went through alone was by far the best haunted house experience out of all of them. It played the most tricks on your mind and held the most surprises.

If you have ever been the Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and been on the Haunted Mansion consider this experience as a more interactive and slightly scarier version. On a regular night it would be too much for young kids but there are several kid friendly nights where they can tell the monsters to be nice and leave them alone.

If you are looking for a little Halloween fun this is defintely something to put on the list next to costume party, trick or treat, and pumpkin carving!

And much to my classmates surprise each year I have secretly put out Halloween cards and candy. I love seeing the surprise, joy, and the mystery lift the spirits of mid semester stress to something more light hearted! Til next year!!

Archives As Reference

This semester we have visited the Archives at Penn several times. This is an amazing resource! The Archives are located below the Fisher Fine Arts Library. The entrance is located just off 34th street by the crosswalk between Morgan and Fisher.

The Archives are always open and often have exhibits. As a class we have gone to see several of these including geologic mappings, a Robert Venturi exhibit, and the Laurie Olin exhibition of drawings. Laurie Olin even came in to walk us through his understanding of gardens and his growth and process of drawings.

I love visiting the archives becuase everytime I go in I come out with ideas and references. From color, style, drawing types, process etc the archive is full of ideas about what design is or was.

If you come to visit Penn I would definitely recommend stopping by the archive for a quick peek at the exhibit on display. It is always a wonderful experience.



Garden Review

What a wonderful review! I presented first and so had the reviewers at thier liveliest. Presenting first to third is my preffered place in the order of presentations only becuase the critics are the most attentive and you get to set up the standard for the presentations. You get to decide what background information to tell, what to highlight in the process, and the overall structure of the project. I feel this is still true even when professors begin reviews with introductory presentations on the site, process, and studio focus. Your presentation grounds what the professors presented prior.

I really enjoyed this review as a conversation. For once the review wasn’t simply a praise or debate of asethetic. Rather it was a conversation about ideas, intent, and design. The critics started with opinions but followed with suggestions and questions anticipating that I reply. It felt more like working towards a future solution than an end, close out review of a product like you’d find on Amazon. I appreciated that at no point in this conversation was I told what I had to do, what the “real” solution was. Rather options were discussed, and my ideas were tested, refined in strength. Ultimately I have a good sense of where the design needs refinement and what will help push me forward in the design process.

Sadly the jury rotated halfway through and tired out by the end. It seems the conversation started to die and only in at the very end in the overall closing of the review was there a lively conversation once more.


This has not been the first review this semester. Below are a few photos of the past two reviews of site analysis and case study research which lead up to and supported this design. Both these reviews were helpful in aesthetic critique but less so in terms of idea or design process. Primarily it was about processing data into and understandings of landscape spaces into drawings to aid in the future.



Not on a design note, this was the first time this semester that we were on time. For once we started when we were supposed to and we finished on time! This is super important to me. Time is something you can’t get back and need to use efficiently. While I love landscapes relaxed, positive atmosphere I can only hope this timeliness keeps up. It is definitely a welcome improvement!


And after every review a real clean up is needed. The amount of reference work, process, sketches, and miscellanous objects that appear on and around ones desk is astonshing. Thankfully Tuesday was a relaxing clean up and organization day. Now my desk is set for the next several weeks of design!

Field Trip Tuesdays!

Honestly one of my favorite classes thus far has been the workshop/field ecology classes. Every Tuesday the class goes out to the landscapes around us to learn more about how they are formed, what plants grow there, and to get a better sense of the ecologies we are working within. While this is constrained to the area around Philadelphia from the Jersey shore to Hawk Mountain the class does an excellent job of showcasing a variety of landscapes.

Despite the fun these trips are very demanding. They are full days, 8 AM to 5 PM,  out hiking around with a full back pack of drawing supplies, lunch, bug spray, hats, extra sweaters, etc. Travel time is between 30 to 2 hours depending on location. Once there it is a race to keep up  with the professor. While you are jogging with a fully packed back pack there is a sketchbook in hand drawing sections of the region, noting plant species, photographing said species, and generally trying to soak it all in. Aside from lunch, there are a few stops in which longer drawing excercises are carried out.

It is nice to be outside learning not only the science of the area but also how to represent and express the beauty around you within your sketchbook.

These photos of the field trips I think express the overall joy and fun of the trips. I love this class and look forward to what the spring will bring!


One thing I would suggest to make the classes easier is to really work out before taking this class. Focusing on cardio and running, long distance, would have helped a ton!! While I managed to keep up I certainly was not in the front of the class. I have permanemtly added cardio to all my workouts in response to this class which helped towards the end.

Also pack a lot of food!! These trips are physically draining. You will need the water and the food to keep enough energy to keep up.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Musuem of Art:

This museum is beautifully crafted! Most of the exhibits are integrated into the architecture of the room and are interactive. I really love seeing how artifacts were implentened into an experience. The museum really used pieces as they were originally intended, as architectural elements.

I purchased an annual membership this year in the hopes of taking friends and family for a discount price. The museum is large enough to merit multiple trips just to look and admire the glass ware collection let alone any of the other collections.

I spent more time admiring the architectural pieces but photographing the ceramics.


Of particular interest to a friend of mine who I joined in the museum was the Frank Gehry renovation. We managed a peek into the new restaurant but the second stair well was yet to be revealed. I look forward to seeing how the work merges with such a historic, classic looking building.