Why I went: I went at the end of my senior year, and extended my stay for close to three months or thereabouts. For me, it was an opportunity to experience, live, study and learn in another culture. The history of architecture in Barcelona was extraordinary.
Provocative design: One thing that comes to mind often in Barcelona are the works of Antoni Gaudí, the famous Spanish architect, who employed geometric patterning heavily in his designs in a lucid and organic manner. Even though I appreciated his design sensibility in terms of the spatial qualities and interesting lines, I was able to understand his work much more in depth by actually having been there.
Seeing such distinctive designs in person makes you a bit more in tune with your own work — helping you understand your own sensibilities and be a little more provocative in some sense.
A lasting influence on design: The great works I saw in Barcelona have traveled with me through my professional experience in the sense that they affect the way that I view things when it comes to design and culture.
My office has just completed the NYU-DC academic building in Washington, D.C., and while most of the building profile is very orthogonal, the main façade has a series of undulating glass fins that add much fluidity to the façade from varying points of view.
Obviously, while not a close comparison to any of Gaudí’s work, the underlying precept was of engaging a thoughtful, rigorous geometric system that allowed itself to be experienced from multiple vantage points.
Study abroad advice: I would encourage every student, whether it’s in architecture or in another department, to study abroad because it really elevates your way of thinking, and your understanding of other cultures.
To experience the culture and art of any foreign country that one goes to is an amazing experience. When you see it firsthand, you feel it, and it really drives the fire or passion within you in terms of what it is that you are studying.
For me, Barcelona was a good place to do that. There are many other options, depending on what your interests are.