A Landscape Tour: Chanticleer Garden

Chanticleer Gardens: http://www.chanticleergarden.org/

What better way to spend a saturday than visiting a local garden? None. This trip was organized by the Landscape Architecture Department and allowed 30 students the opportunity to engage in a private tour of the gardens led by two of the gardens staff and OLIN partner\Penn alumnus Dennis McGlade.

Chanticleer is a pleasure garden. It’s sole purpose is to be a natural refuge for people from the city to come garden or stroll about. Each garden, as there are several garden types and designs, is designed, planted, and maintained by interested locals and the garden’s own horticulturists and garden staff. The soils, groundcovers, and plants are all selected to complement a specific site in the garden. Each separate garden is defined not by fences and signs but rather by plant types and design. The transitions are gardened to create a seamless flow between each garden. The overall experience is quite dreamlike.

The garden staff who assisted with the tour was very knowledgeable about the history of the garden, the buildings left standing on the property, and the general garden design. This was supplemented by Dennis McGlade’s input from a designers perspective. Discussed were the ideas of plant form, color, and texture being complementary to emphasize a certain geometry and mood, plant growth creating various types of garden over time, microclimates and their many uses, and general plant knowledge (of which I have much to learn). The knowledge of plant types and their specific requirements can be learned readily at the garden as, both there and online, the garden has a list of all the plants in each garden for reference.

Though I may not be planning to design pleasure gardens the lessons started here are sure to apply in more urban settings. The day was a perfect inspiration, and a lovely insight into the field of landscape architecture.

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

Maintaining a regular eating schedule, let alone eating healthily, can be difficult once studio picks up. I find myself questioning the use of time to find, order, pick up, make, clean up, and eat food versus its use towards work in another class (usually studio). Sometimes it’s less about the time and more about the quality of food which I will be consuming.

Throughout my time in design I have sorted out the logistics of meal time. Below are a few suggestions I have:

  • Set an eating schedule. The more rigid the better! Overtime you’re body will become accustomed to eating at a specific time and will alert you. Having a set time also allows you to better plan the rest of the time in your day rather than having to set odd hours. It also assures that you will be alert and ready to go all day.  
  • Listing food options. If you can set general criteria for what you expect to eat at a set time you will have an easier time selecting where or how to get the food you want. For example if you know that coffee and pastries are only breakfast foods then you will know to narrow your breakfast search to cafes rather than search through every restaurant serving food from 7 am to 11 am (brunch places, cafes, etc). The same can be said for lunch and dinner.
  • Pack snacks. Light snacks such as nuts, fruits, puddings, granola bars, and trail mixes can help keep up energy throughout the day. Some days are more demanding on your body than others. By keeping snacks around you’re assured the ability to maintain your energy levels and to help calm your stomach while you’re training it to a new eating schedule.
  • Pack lunch. While this can be difficult to keep up with eventually packing lunch will save you lots of time and money. Going out every day can add up in dollars and in not knowing the true content of what you’re supplying your body with.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water is just a generally good thing to do for your health. It also is nice to have around to help digest snacks, and to wake up a sleepy or bored mind.

Habits take a few weeks to really form and maintain. Try keeping a list or doing a little preparation for these habits to help them develop.

In terms of listing food options below are a few places nearby the Meyerson (School of Design) building on Penn campus:

  • PennDesign Cafe: located in the basement of Meyerson Hall this is a nice place to grab a quick snack or a drink. They are open Monday thru Friday during school hours.
  • Food Court in Houston Hall and the Perelman Quadrangle: Located in the basement, again, this offers a larger variety of food options. There is a small soup section, a salad bar, a pasta bar, a pizza bar, an asian take out option, sushi, precooked meals which change by day, a series of packaged foods(full meals to salads, fruits, oatmeals, yogurts), a Creperie, and Insomnia Cookies. This is probably the healthiest food option in the nearby area.
  • CVS: located across the street form Meyerson right next to the Starbucks. This is great to pick up quick snacks or drinks.
  • Starbucks: located across Walnut Street just in front of Meyerson Hall. I have found that the sandwiches here are quite good and as always the coffee and tea options will please anyone’s sweet tooth.
  • WaWa: a convenience store better for grabbing snacks or a quick sandwich. There are two located on opposite sides of campus.
  • Food Trucks: There are four that are stationed directly in front of Meyerson Hall. There are several others around the perimeter of campus. The food trucks only accept cash however so be sure to have a $5 handy.
  • Shake Shack: just a short walk from Meyerson, this restaurant also happens to be next door to the closest art supply store. Grabbing dinner on the way back from picking up studio supplies is quite efficient!
  • Chipotle: About a 10-15 minute walk from campus west on Walnut Street.
  • HoneyGrow: a stir fry and salad place. This is right next to the Chipotle.

There is no shortage of food options on and around campus. These are just a few that have been convenient in my first three weeks.

Overall please remember that even as classes become more demanding the time it takes to eat, to find food and consume it, is always worth it and can become an exciting break to the endless demands of classes.

Library Orientation!

Penn Library Homepage: http://www.library.upenn.edu/

The library is a lovely, quiet place of refuge. Whether one is looking to take a break from studio or simply read/work in a controlled environment the nearest library is the place to go.


Wednesday I attended a short orientation to the Fisher Fine Arts Library on campus. Below are links to the multitude of resources I was unaware existed:


Carrel or Book Shelf in the library: books can be checked out to you and kept within the library at a specified desk or shelf. I find this useful in keeping research materials organized and ensuring all books are returned in a timely manner. Note that books on these desks/shelves can be looked through by other students but not checked out. The book will always be available to you.There is a link at this webpage to apply for a carrel or shelf: http://www.library.upenn.edu/finearts/fishercarrels.html/

Events and Workshops: This calendar ranges from LinkedIn Photoshoots to 3d printing tutorials. The calendar can be found on the front page of the Penn Libraries website.

Borrow Equipment: The libraries at Penn can provide students with laptops, ipads, projectors, and cameras if needed. Check out times and rules vary.


Every available material on the Franklin search catalog for the Penn Libraries comes with a set of potential actions. This bar is seen after selecting availability upon signing into the library using your Penn username and password.Below are three listed options I learned about today:


Request: This requests the book specifically to you for pick up behind the library counter. If you would like it to be placed on a shelf for you that request can be made at the library counter upon pick up of the book.

Borrow Direct: This is a interlibrary loan system between different schools. BorrowDirect+ is the interlibrary loan between all the Ivy League schools. Palczi is the interlibrary loan between local Philadelphia and Pennsylvania schools and institutions.

Scan and Deliver: This option allows you to request that a particular section or pages of a book be scanned for you by a librarian and digitally delivered to your email. Clicking this option takes you to a form which upon filing out tells the librarian everything they need to find the book, the pages or content (ie intro or last chapter if unsure of page numbers) and process the book for you. This seems like it would be an amazing resource for research especially during weeks of studio finals or midterms when research may still be ongoing.

Database Access: Aside from printed materials the library is connected to many databases, which you can access by creating an account linked to your penn student account. A few databases worth noting are Artstor (image database) and the Avery Index (architectural journals). All databases are sorted by subject category so if you’re looking for something in say chemistry just look for the chemistry subject and all the chemistry related databases will appear for you to further search each one.

Suggest a Purchase: There is a form on each individual libraries page in which you can suggest a book, journal, or other reading which the library may not have in it’s collection.

I hope this quick review of the library helps! Thank you Patricia Guardiola for the tour and tips relating to the Penn libraries, particularly Fisher Fine Arts!

First Week in Review

The first week is often though of as a week to adjust to new surroundings, plan for the months to come, and meet the new people embarking on this educational mission with you. While all this was true for my first week, there was far more activity than originally anticipated.

Monday: No classes were held this day, however, the school still held functions aimed towards the first weeks of class. Studio and electives were presented in Meyerson Hall for most of the day. These presentations were of primary interest to those students entering their second or third years of graduate school. Students entering their first year have a far more rigid schedule to allow for a general base of knowledge to be built prior to the students exploration in the following years.

Tuesday: First day of class! Despite the awful rain, the day was quite exciting in terms of reuniting with students met at the New Student Orientation held Friday, August 25th, 2017. On this day I managed to enjoy a break between classes in the beautiful Fisher Fine Arts Library, a lovely, quiet reading space next door to the school of design.

Wednesday: This day was important as it was the first day of studio! The class took place in the Penn Museum (which is free to students with a Penn ID). We were introduced to the class as a whole, all the teaching professors, and the work to be done in the first project. Naturally work commenced the very next day! That night was spent moving computers, materials, and a few mementos into studio in anticipation of the quick pace the class would be working at. Not necessarily of secondary importance, but perhaps not as immediately pressing as next weeks studio deadlines, was the Career Services lunch and presentation. This event was extremely informative and helpful. A three year career oriented plan was presented for each masters track, all events to come were laid out on a calendar for students to take with them, and the career advisers were present for questions. The sooner you start considering your career path and the steps you need to take the better off you are. Career Services at Penn does not delay in ensuring its students have access to all their career resources and knowledge from almost day one.

Thursday: The first step to the first assignment required another visit to the Penn Museum. Students were paired into groups and assigned an artifact from the museum to photograph in a series of circles with a photograph taken at every 15 degrees. These photos were then uploaded to a choice of two programs, although I am sure there are more, either: Autodesk Recap or Autodesk Remake. The program then analyzes the series of photographs and produces a 3D model which can be downloaded as an OBJ and imported into Rhino. This process is known as Photogramatry. For a more visual representation of this process see the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7Torjkfec4 (Note: Link was provided by  MARCH Studio 500 Coordinator Andrew Saunders)

Friday: Despite the focus on studios in most design course, and most likely this blog, there are other classes to be attended. Friday’s are primarily Construction and History focused while each day of the week has another class respectively either History lecture, Structures, or Visual Studies(a sort of composition and graphics focused course).

Saturday: This day was primarily relegated to studio, like so many of the days before it.

Sunday: A 3D Makerbot Print was completed! After many trials and errors a thickened rhino model of my artifact, an ancient lamp from Israel, was completed, prepared to print, and successfully printed after 5 hours 30 minutes. This being my first time 3D printing on my own, and having really been walked through the steps quickly during Digiblast this summer, I was quite impressed with the result. If I learned anything from this process it’s that simplicity can be much more helpful than complexity, a few lines go a long way,  just as a single question can lead to not only an answer but an entirely new path of thought. Naturally the presence of the TA Andrew, throughout the weekend,  was much appreciated for assisting with a broken printer, teaching a quick modeling course, and answering modeling and printing questions.

Monday: Again no class as it was labor day. This was another day spent in studio working on analytical drawings of the artifact and its underlying geometries. Part of the day was taken as a “break” from the constant working on design in studio to enjoy a series of readings for history in one of the many courtyards on Penn Campus. This particular courtyard is located between the Palestra and The Weiss pavilion. It is a fairly quiet area with little pedestrian traffic through it on a “weekend”. I imagine during the week it is a busier place not suited for outdoor studying.

Though a single week, even the stereotypical easiest week, can be quite busy, make sure to take the time to enjoy the moment. The walks to class, lunch outside, reading breaks to stimulate the mind, or cooking dinner and sleeping are all important things that you can do to keep up your health/spirits and prepare you for all the fun challenges presented as your next adventure begins.

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Reading Terminal Market Adventures

Reading Terminal Market: http://www.readingterminalmarket.org/

Century 21 Stores: http://locations.c21stores.com/en/philadelphia

Philadelphia Flea Market: http://philafleamarkets.org/

The Reading Terminal Market is a busy place filled with food ranging from fresh produce, fish, specialty sausages, coffee and ice cream, and prepared foods from stands such as Spartano’s cheesesteaks and Po Boys gumbo. There’s certainly something there for everyone to enjoy. I happened to be there around noon, which is naturally a busy time for any food distributer, and the buzz of activity within was clear from the sidewalk. Inside the lines are manageable, moving quickly along, however finding a table is another matter. I definitely recommend getting someone to scout out a table while someone else grabs food. If you’re not that into crowded places or mingling with strangers Washington Square, Franklin Square, and the stretch of space between the two holding Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are only a 15 minute walk away. I did not make it out there this time but next time I hope to picnic, taking advantage of the lovely summer weather and good food, and reliving fond memories of a family trip when I was younger.

Having enjoyed a cheesesteak and a cup of coffee I headed back for my car when I noticed on my map that there was a flea market nearby. I was unable to locate the flea market unfortunately, and upon further research later found it has been removed entirely to a new location, however did stumble across a Century 21 department store. I am unfamiliar with this store but would consider it a worthwhile venture having left with a few new articles of clothing and a good laugh. It is certainly not cheap but for the quality not absurdly expensive. My dislike of shopping stopped me from further investigating the series of stores that appear to be ideally located next to the Reading Terminal Market.

If you do enjoy shopping and need a place to eat then this part of downtown Philadelphia is certainly the place to go! I know I will be returning to sample more dishes and bring home more ingredients with which to practice cooking.

Farmer’s Market

In Philadelphia there a several year round and some seasonal farmer’s markets all throughout the city. The Food Trust [http://thefoodtrust.org/] is the main organizer. For more information on the Farmer’s Markets locations, hours, and stands use the following link: http://thefoodtrust.org/farmers-markets

I enjoy the excercise I get from walking to Clark Park in University City District on Thursday’s and Saturday’s for a bit of fresh produce. Produce is not the only thing you can find at the farmer’s market. The market set up in Clark Park has several produce stands, a flower stand, a fresh fish stand, a few stands selling meat of all kinds, an art stand or two, and a few informational stands. One of these informational stands has a cooking show that starts about the same time as the market opens. This show has neat little tips, fun quick recipes, and if you fill out the survey at the end you are given $4 dollars to spend as you please in the market. One weekend that amounted to me purchasing a large bunch of basil and some leafy green lettuces.

Some of the informational stands give handouts and often pertain to events occuring in the city. One weekend I picked up a magazine titled Fringe Festival by FringeArts. This fesitval is an annual event that begins in September and ends in December. The magazine has descriptions of all the art events to be staged around the city from performances, to music, to gallery openings, to interactive sculptures in the parks. Had I not gone to the Farmer’s Market that saturday I probably would have found out after the events occured. The Farmer’s Market and Clark Park are great places to learn a little more about the area while interacting with the local community.

If you’re in Philadelphia I highly reccomend the walk to the nearest Farmer’s Market, if Clark Park is too far.


Most of us think of orientation as a set of hours any institution we are integrating into has set aside to talk us to near informed boredom. The information is all, of course, very important but perhaps not in that moment. As a student, I’m generally a little more nervous and excited to meet new classmates, faculty, and staff than be lectured about my health. Despite my reservations about orientation I was quite pleased with how the day turned out!

The day started with lunch! At least as students we were able to focus for the remainder of the day on the content and not our stomachs. Lunch was a plesent affair with students from all the degree tracks eating under one roof. While we ate we were introduced the the Dean, Chairs of Departments, and Dean’s office Staff.  Post lunch we were split into groups based on the colors on our name tags: in my case this was green group.

The next several hours green group proceed to four different rooms for various instruction. We met with current students, were informed on available resources for our health, introduced to the library and the archives, and updated on everything we needed to know about the IT department (the mechanical heart behind all our makings).  Each was informative and thankfully their information would be made available again on the Thrive at Penn Canvas page students are added to upon accepting admission into Penn.

After the information sharing was done, it was time for social fun! The student groups were further split up into smaller groups for a campus wide scavenger hunt! Though my group, “Yes we Khan!”, did not win, the prize being 1TB hardrives each, the secondary goal of the excercise was certainly achieved. By the end of the scavenger hunt the majority of the group had spent an hour introducing themselves and enjoying the company of their new group while rapidly walking through campus in search of answers to our clues. With the scavenger hunt complete a BBQ in front of Meyerson Hall commenced. A genuinely lovely end of day event with plenty of food, deserts, and drinks! More introducing and long conversations ensued with the Dean meandering between student groups.

All in all it was a pleasantly social day meeting classmates and gathering basic information for my success as a student at Penn. Orientation is one event not to miss.



All students entering PennDesign will have an introductory summer course to attend. This course ensures students are aware of PennDesign resources, the basics of the programs they will need in the semester, and have met their classmates.

In my introductory course, I spent two weeks covering basic design programs (Rhino, Grasshopper, Python, Vray, Autocad, Photoshop, and Illustrator) as well as access to the laser cutters, CNC mills, woodshop, printers, IT Department, and the PennDesign facility. During this short course we produced a variety of work for a final review some of which I’ve posted below.

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