Summer Reading

This list will be updated as I find more resources worth pursuing.

Summer is a chance to explore ones own interests outside of class requirements. There are many ways to explore an interest, one good way is to read up on it.

Any Google Search can pull up list upon list of potential summer reads. Below I have listed a few that have caught my attention:

-Women Write Architecture: My PIWA Mentor forwarded this list to me. It is extensive and supports a double agenda, good reads for fun and supporting women researchers/writers.

-The Dirt (ASLA): This is a list of popular books for landscape architects published in 2018. Yes it is a year old but certainly relevant.

-The Field: This is a landscape architects blog that has a list of good reads from 2016. Yes it is 3 years old but again still relevant.

-The World Landscape Architect: This has a 2018 holiday reading list.

-Arch Daily: 116 books for architects to read from 2018. This site is also generally good for daily articles and up to date news on buildings as the are designed and built.

If books are a bit too long for you there are a number of magazines and blogs which provide wonderful shorter format content. Below is a list of content to consider:

– Arch Daily:

-Landscape Architecture Magazine:

While summer leaves many of us with a little more time to read it may not be everyone’s thing. The world of podcasts is a fine in between. I haven’t listened to many but have begun to search for a few to try:

– The Obssessed Show: This is both a podcast and a list of competing but equally interesting podcasts. I have yet to listen to them but there are a few here that are on my list for morning walks to work.

-Matters: another design blog with some suggested podcasts for starters to check out. It is always nice to see people suggesting the same podcasts. Gives starters a place to really get introduced and then go off the beaten path.

However you choose to consume information, summer is an excellent time to pursue your interests through formats a little too time consuming for a regular semester.


Architect’s Weekend Out


Falling Water:

Ohiopyle State Park:


Falling Water is a classic house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The number of times this house alone is mentioned in a school setting makes it one of the top buildings on any architects travel list. I probably would never have considered a visit if I hadn’t been inundated with the praises and wonders of Frank Lloyd Wright from the minute I looked to Architecture as a possible career path.

I had my reservations about this design. As much as anyone can sing its praises I wasn’t convinced. I am very glad that a friend of mine organized and invited me along to explore Falling Water and the towns and roads along the way.

Ultimately I left liking the design. Not everything is perfect. It has a fair number of failures built in such as the odd arrangement of patios to windows. I mean who puts a master suite patio directly adjacent to a guest room where the guest room window has full view of the patio? No screens, no plantings, just full unrestricted view to a supposedly private space as master suites and attachments usually are. Then there are odd details which are lovely but probably not so good for the building. The front entry, inside the building, has a nautral rock, kept in place, with a spring that occasionally spills inside. This spring or rainwater overflow is not restricted but just trickles and puddles in the interior. If water is seeping in this way I don’t want to think about how water is entering the rest of the buildig and structure at all the other natural/existing connection points.

But there are also lovely details. The corner windows which all open up the entire side of the building allowing the owners to control airflow. The acoustic control of the waterfall sounds being more screened in some places, less in others, and being able to augment it through windows. The tidy details of stairs and ramp covers that by design mimic waterfalls during heavier rains which I find so enthralling and really wish I had seen in action.

Overall, there are many things to learn from a visit to Falling Water. Even if you leave less than impressed with the building the drive to and from it is stunning, the nearby town of Ohiopyle has a wonderful park and falls that are very fun to explore, and ultimately Pittsburgh isn’t too much further away. There is something for everyone around there, I’d be surprised if anyone could leave the area completely annoyed at a loss of time.

After a wonderful day exploring both architecture and landscape, the Ohiopyle State Park has many fossils, trails, and fun falls!, we hit the road again. Purely by chance we stayed the night in a town just outside the Flight 93 Memorial. It hadn’t been on our list of visits for this trip but since we were there we decided to check it out. The site is massive and the memorial comes up unexpectedly. We happened to be there on a very cold and rainy day so limited our explorations considerably. I think a stop in the visitor center is absolutely necessary to fully understand each element of the design. Some of the details escape you if you aren’t told their significance. For example there are 40 memorial groves in half the circle’s design. When driving past them it is unclear that there are 40 separate but connected groves and rather looks like a semicircle of very young trees, probably for aesthetics or to construct a view. While missing this detail isn’t likely to ruin the memorial experience I think it would make a stronger impact to know and see. To appreciate every detail of honoring the lives of those lost.

Finally our last stop was in Amish Country just outside Philadelphia. Sadly we came in on a Sunday and most everything was closed. We did however see many horses and buggies going about. Farm country is just beautiful to be around.

Altogether a lovely trip with many surprises and wonderful learning moments! I highly recommend the trip with good friends and an open mind.

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Sally Week: Urban Hopes


Village of Arts and Humanities:

Phildelphia Orchard Project:

Day five was unexpected. I knew we would be focusing on more city systems but wasn’t ready for what we came into contact with. I found the work being done in the North Philadelphia around Germantown and Temple University area really meaningful. It was inspiring to hear the stories of the area and the mini battles which the neighborhood is fighting to keep its place.

It is so sad to see Philadelphia systematically ignoring the neighborhoods requests and allowing the area to fall into disrepair to benefit developers. I believe it isn’t that the city doesn’t talk between departments but rather it talks between departments for specific entities. Temple’s expansion and the developers pushing it forward are the entities which push this government forward at the expense of Philadelphia history. Why developers can’t incorporate neighborhood history and meaning into the work they do is beyond me. These areas have so much to offer which would enrich any incoming population that infills. Regardless of the carelessness of others the work being done in the area was fascinating. Even the small urban farm which was educating local students was touching. I can only hope that I have time either this summer or upcoming year to visit again or volunteer and learn the tactics behind this localized redevelopment plan.


The images below depict personal neighborhood stories and cultures being assembled to benefit a community and not an individual. They represent christian, muslim, and african cultures and beliefs. The presence of angles, priests, gods, and kind spirits to oversee and guide are central to the work in place. These hopeful motifs are inspiring and deserve better care than the city has shown.


Sally Week: A Bird’s Farm Song

Rushton Preserve:

Day four was delightful. The class traveled to Rushton Preserve to observe both the catching and banding of birds and a tidy urban farm nestled into habitat and research.

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The process of catching, tagging and releasing the birds was something I had never seen before. The bird nets were so light I couldn’t believe that they held such vigorous birds. But sure enough as we made the rounds through trails and past nets the birds were held quite safely.  Everyone seemed really happy to see, pet and help release the birds. I was surprised by how soft the were. I had attempted to release a Cat Bird which squacked so painfully when I went to hold its neck that I released it in fear I hurt it. Clearly its scare tactics work and it flew away happily.

The farm was quaint and I have happily added the free plants we received to my window garden. The following lunch was perfect and the kickball game clearly more telling of group dynamics than probably any field trip. Our class definietly needs to play kickball again sometime soon!

Sally Week: A Snake’s Tale

Day three was long only due to the soreness from Day Two’s hike. We went many places this day of which I will only discuss two. I cannot discuss the wonderful things we saw and learned about the wildlife in this area to protect them from others. As such no photographs will be included or linked to this post.

The first trail through the swamp was delightful but clearly not good for the general public. I never anticipated that beavers could create such damage remotely. The beaver deceiver device was intriguing. This device essentially is a hidden pipe embedded within the dam which diverts water from one side to the other avoided detection and removal by the beaver. It would have been nice to be able to see it or the dam particularly as examples of water edges and water ecosystems greatly disrupted. While we didn’t see beavers we did hear a multitude of birds, a wonderful introduction for Day Four, and interacted with a number of snakes.

Soon after our wander through the swamp we came across a series of pine forests. Some of these were intact and other patches had undergone controlled burns. I was surprised that despite the controlled burn so many creatures and plants were showing back up in those areas. I understand that overtime that is what will happen in a controlled burn area but everything there seemed so freshly burned it really made an impression. The pine trees had cute little green sprouts and all around blackened pine cones made the perfect natural charcoal to create patterns with.

Of this day I made only patterned sketches from the charcoal bits.

Sally Week: A Day of Revitalization

The Lehigh Gap Nature Center:

Day two was a day of difficult terrain. The class traveresed up the mountainside of a superfund site. This location, once barren, had been brought back to life and is now a thriving parkland with many trails. Of these trails the one up over the ridge is quite spectacular but physically draining.

The superfund site, ie the Lehigh Gap Nature Center,  hosted a number of test plantings. The whole site was a sort of farm blanket of test patches for plants and their corresponding animals attracted and their ability to thrive and clean up a toxic place. Perhaps in future the Lehigh Gap Nature Center employees can discuss more in depth the planning and data collection of these sites.

It seems like an amazing asset to have a nature center at the site of a clean up particularly to revitalize not only the natural elements of the area but also the social elements. More superfund sites should consider the social and economic impacts and results of successful clean ups.

Sally Week: Day on the Water


ReTURN The Favor:

Day one focused on shorelines and water-based ecosystems. We were scheduled to visit three locations. The first a farm protected by dams and dikes built all around it. The second a shoreline protected for the variety of species it is home to. The third a unique area, a mix between commerce and parkland centered around crabbing and shellfish.

The first stop of the day was a unique farm constructed on borrowed land from the river. The system of dikes, ditches, drains, and water gates reminded me of Venice, Italy. Venice is also combating a serious flood which rises with each year. On the farm it seems that the water is seeping in straight from the ground up rather than flowing in over the dikes. This suggests that soon the water control tactics in place will no longer sustain it and it will dissolve into marshland much like the surrounding farms before it. The destruction of the once farmland was bizarrely beautiful. The islands of varying heights which accepted flooding would have been excellent case studies for my studio project this semester. I may have to study the area more closely to better develop a planting scheme for my own design.


The second location, along the bayshore, is home to many species. We were fortunate to be toured by Meghan a volunteer with ReTURN The Favor. The mile walk to the shore was breathtaking. The grasses went on endlessly to the horizon. Only minute shifts in grade altered water content and so grass type. Even then one would have to look closely to see, and only at the trails edge be able to tell. In the vast continous marsh-scape the differences blended into a whole. The real drama appeared in the change from marshy grass to sandy dunes, on one side covered in grass and the other in sand and shells. To the sandy side only 6-10 feet, I would estimate, of shoreline existed, left to the mercy of the tide. As we walked this shoreline hoards of horeshoe crabs awaited us. These creatures, whose bloodline runs as old as the dinosaurs, were helpless to the tide. Many were stranded on their backs, legs wiggling in the air, awaiting either a tide to tip them right or a bird to devour them. Many of us hurried along the shoreline to flip these poor beings and point them back to the water. Of the many tidbits of information we learned the infographic, copyright to Rebecca Sibinga (a classmate), passed along to us was a helpful visual to understand the connectivity between species and the role a single place can play in the success of many.

Food Web_cprighted-01.jpg

After aiding an ancient friends, we traveled on to see a living water edge near a crabbing facility. This edge was not only planted as excellent muddy, grassy crab habitat but also had little bags of mussels/oysters placed along its side for cultivation. I enjoyed seeing the seafood industries tactics as it begins to mimic a traditional farm only in non traditional territory. As well the architectural elements integrated into this landscape, the unique docks, boats, launches, and bridges, were a joy to study.



Spring Finals

Where did it all go?!? Time is passing like crazy and I can’t believe that so much has happened in such a short time.

Finals week is here and gone. Studio review happened yesterday. Despite a tiring round of all-nighters and the most anxiety to present than I have felt in a while (probably since undergrad 1) I learned a lot from my review. While praise is always nice the conversation around my thought process, analysis and design decisions give me a better sense of what to keep working on. Certainly a more careful look over the qualities of a place versus their placement could help refine the geometries further.

Thankfully project revisions can wait for summer. For now I can read outside and ponder the relationships between large parks as a typology and their impact on city living and landscape design/allocations. Often everything adds up on paper but not quite in reality. I look forward to exploring this theme further during my summer “break”.

For now the only class to finish up is a week of field ecology chasing after Sally on daily tours of new places and the things that make it tick!

Construction on Campus

As past jobs have finished up and opened to the public new jobs start construction. It seems like campus will never cease building, or at least not in my time here.

There are four projects that I walk past daily on my way to class.

One project has recently put up test pieces for facades. It is hidden between buildings on campus facing Spruce Street. The subway exit is still accesible but I can imagine may experience shut downs.


Another project on campus is the new dormitories being built on 40th and Walnut Street. These buildings were designed by BCJ in Philadelphia. It was really nice during a BCJ firm crawl with PennDesigns Women in Architecture that two of the firms designers spoke with us about this project. There was a lot of research and play with facade materials and general organization to benefit students over general public. This site is unique also because it is even during construction catering to the Free Library directly on site, the church across the walkway, and the dorms adjacent to it.


The third site is nearly complete. The Ronald McDonald house has been expanding adding on a housing wing. It has been fun watching this project go up. I am excited to see them take away the construction fence and view the finished project.


The fourth project underway is on Chestnut Street behind the gym. The foundations appear to be in. I don’t walk past this project often so unfortunately haven’t taken an updated photo. As progress is made over summer I am sure I will discuss this projects progress more.

While I may not be in Philly quite as much in summer as in fall/spring I look forward to seeing the progress and new projects sure to show up.

LARPERS: Winterthur


Winterthur, originally a private estate, is now a museum and garden. The grounds are extensive holding a number of different gardens and amusement spaces. While we were there a portion of the grounds were being set up for some sort of summer fair. To give a sense of scale, the fairground activity could not be detected from the gardens we visited.

I do not recall the names of each garden particularly as some of the transitions were so smooth that it was difficult to tell you were transitioning. Below are a few photos highlighting some of the lovely places we stopped to analyze and the fascinating discoveries we made:



Once done touring and analyzing the variety of gardens across the grounds the group settled for lunch. Thanks to Winterthur’s Follies in the Garden exhibit I was able to bask in the sun atop a small black tower whimsically centered in a grass field looking over both the home and the grounds to enjoy my sandwich. This warm and peaceful retreat did not stay that way long. It seems that the hoards of children playing in the shade of the Children’s Garden caught sight of this tower and aimed to claim it. Despite staying still and guarding my Coca-cola and chips from these small invaders I ultimately saw fit to retreat to my friends cold luncheon spot beneath the trees bordering the meadow.

Lunch turned into a free hour to roam during which a few of us chose to seek out the remaining follies. The majority of the follies appeared roughly the same with the only difference being location and material, oddly not form.

The bus ride back to campus was a peaceful one. Unfortunately the return to studio meant a return to finals deadlines. Deadlines no one was eager to face just then.