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DI Details Newsletter June 2010 Design Institute of San Diego

Another DI Alum We're Proud Of!


Surviving the 1:2 Student Design Charette


LIBRARIAN'S CORNER - Art from Around the World



The 19 students, faculty, alumni and friends that traveled to Spain in May will tell you there are few words in Webster's dictionary to describe that country's sheer beauty and exuberance.

Spain is a treasure trove of images and experiences to be shared and savored. There you'll find the unique intricately carved details of Mudejar architecture; the colors and sounds of flamenco; the heady aroma of seafood and saffron wafting up from a steaming pan of paella; the amazing brilliance of Antoni Gaudi...

First stop...Seville! Thinking back over this amazing trip, what was a favorite stop? Some might say it was the outstanding tile work at one of Spain's finest examples of Moorish Revival architecture - Plaza de Espana. Others might cast their vote for the colorful evening at the bullfight or for the guided visit to the intriguingly opulent Alcazar - home to generations of Spanish kings and caliphs. Or, was it Seville's Grand Cathedral and its Gothic altar piece - believed to be the largest in the world?

Almost everyone agreed that the endless assortment of tapas - small snacks of olives, cheeses, vegetables, nuts and other delectable edibles - was very high on the list of favorites.

After leaving Seville, the journey continued on to Madrid with a stop in historic Cordoba for sightseeing, lunch and for a visit to La Mezquita - one of the largest Islamic mosques in the world. Noted for its extraordinary size and breathtaking richness, the interior of the Mezquita can best be described as a shimmering network of seemingly endless striped arches of highly polished jasper, onyx, and marble.

Lined with a series of prayer niches encrusted with gilding and mosaic and crowned with glittering domes of blue tile, the many visual surprises encountered at the Mezquita were nothing less than remarkable.

Next stop...Madrid! Pleasantly full from a breakfast of fresh fruits, Tortilla Espana, cereal, cheeses, meats, and pastries (sorry, no tapas for breakfast!), the travelers set out to explore the city. Why not start at the Palacio Real?

Aptly referred to as Madrid's "Jewel Box", the Palacio began construction in 1735, under the appointment of Felipe V. Although the Palacio never reached the size King Felipe intended (11,000 rooms), the 2,800 rooms that were built are a treasure chest of priceless musical instruments, ornate clocks, embroidered silk wall coverings, graceful stairways and a splendid array of interior finishes.

Continuing on through some of Madrid's most picturesque small streets there was time for lunch, sightseeing and shopping before the tour continued to one of the world's most famous museums- the Prado. Goya, Rubens, Raphael, El Greco, Velazquez...all this housed the neo-classical Palacio de Villanueva. Surprisingly enough, everyone had enough strength to consider tapas again!

The weather was perfect the following morning as the group boarded their private bus for the final leg of the journey - is everyone ready to experience Barcelona? Yes, but not before a stop in Zargoza- the capital of the Aragon region. One of the great monumental towns of Spain, Zaragoza was founded in 14 BC by the Romans.

Amazed by the many outstanding examples of contemporary architecture situated along the banks of the Ebro River as it winds its way into the heart of Zaragoza, the group soon found themselves in the hushed interior of the Catedral Nuestra Senora del Pilar. Associated with many miracles over the 2000 years it has stood in the cathedral, the small wooden and jasper statue that the basilica is named for - Our Lady of the Pillar - marks the location of the first recorded apparition of the Virgin Mary in Europe.

Wait, Spain's most cosmopolitan city is just ahead - waiting to be explored. Is it possible that we are finally in Barcelona! Looking out across the urban sprawl of this dynamic metropolis from our private tour bus, it was becomingly clear why the architectural wonders of this great city are unrivaled anywhere in the world. As we headed toward our hotel, the air was filled with anticipation. After all the amazing things we've seen in Spain so far, how is it possible that Barcelona can be any better?

The following morning that question was answered as the group began the first round of a series of experiences drawing them into the fantastical world of Antoni Gaudi. The first stop was Parque Guell - possibly one of the most intriguing public parks on the planet. Sitting high above Gaudi's fanciful park pavilions with their curved tiled roofs it was hard for everyone to decide which was the most colorful - the whimsical pavilion spires, the endless curvilinear tiled bench they were sitting on or the dragon lizard at the center of the grand staircase!

Leaving the park and continuing on through the Parisian-inspired streets of Barcelona, the briefest glimpse of Gaudi's yet unfinished cathedral - La Sagrada Familia - appeared. Under construction for more than 100 years, Gaudi's genius is crystal clear in this homage to Gothic architecture. Can the architecture of Barcelona possibly get any better?

Leaving Spain's most visited monument, La Sagrada, it's time for a visit to one of the world's most highly acclaimed examples of modern architecture - the Barcelona Pavilion. In stark contrast to Gaudi's capricious flights of architectural fancy, Mies van der Rohe's pavilion floats quietly and simply on a massive plinth of travertine. Declared the most "beautiful building of the 20th Century" by countless architectural critics and historians, Mies' pavilion continues to be celebrated worldwide for its impact on architectural history.

This is a city like no other. Is it really possible our visit to Gaudi's Casa Batllo the following day was even more mesmerizing?

Souvenirs packed and cameras brimming with photographs, 19 tired travelers boarded Iberian Air for the return flight from Barcelona to San Diego. There was so much to remember... that quiet courtyard in Seville where we all had that fantastic lunch, the Porcelain Room at the Palacio Real, the roar of the crowd at the bullfight, the taste of those tapas at that little place off Las Ramblas, the fountain in Zaragoza, the click of the castanets at the flamenco...

We're all planning to go back as soon as we can! Are you surprised?

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