I have the priviledge of taking this week off from my job as a teacher to visit the city of Amsterdam for the first time and also meeting my first grandchild – Aden Sophie. She turned 2-weeks old today (on “lucky” March 7) as snow flurries fell throughout the day.

I’m traveling with my architect husband. Over the years, we have explored many cities together. Some in the USA – DC, Charlottesville, Baltimore, New York, Connecticutt, Charleston, Savannah, Chicago, LA, Palm Springs, Santa Fe…Many more outside of the USA – Venice, Rome, Florence, Seina, Bologna, Madrid, Merida, Granada, Cordoba, Bilboa, Barcelona, Tulum, Valladolid, Paris, Marsailles, Toulouse…

One thing, when you travel with an architect, is that time is spent walking, climbing steps to get higher views. Then time spent observing and appreciating the build environment. And LOTS of photos are snapped of the surroundings, the buidlings and the details. Photos range from the city skyline to a front door to a doorknob.

The same is happening on this trip. As we wander the many Amsterdam canal paths (being sure to stay on the predestrian path and not the bike or car or tram paths), I’m noticing a unique building type that has been standing since the 1600s and 1700s. Today, cars, bikes, and trams whiz past while my husband and I stop to see the details in each fascade and snap many photos to remember this city, Aden’s new home. Here are a few of my photos.

Do you have a favorite city? When did you visit last? Any photos?!

Remembering a fieldtrip

Maybe it is because I married an architect but I realize I am the kind of person who notices and appreciates my built environment. Maybe this is why I prefer cities to rural farmland. When planning to visit a new city, I research the interesting buildings I’ll get to see before restaurants or shops to visit. I realize buildings are important to me.

Maybe this is why my favorite school fieldtrip was to the National Buidling Museum in DC for their Community Buidling Fieldtrip. Weeks before, I asked my students to save and bring in empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls, old shoe boxes and empty yogurt containers. I collected all their donations into a large plastic bag and brought it with us, as directed by the fieldtrip docent.

First, we were greeted outside to hear fun facts about the fascade of this large, red brick building filling an entire city block. I’d watch my 3-feet tall students lean their heads back and looked up to notice the figures on the buidling’s exterior just above the first floor windows. Encircling the entire city block building, the civil war soldiers depicted on the building’s frieze appeared to be marching. And the march continues all the way around the entire buidling!

Then we entered and I’d watch their surprised faces as they stood in the open artium.

Yep….corinthian columns – 75 ft tall and 8ft in diameter!

But the best was yet to come! Our docent led us to the 2-floor classroom and our work began. My students were task with designing a community. On the floor was a massive tarp of green, blue and black and gray outlining open green space, a river and some roads. Students spent the next hour making. Then we sat around the tarp and each explained what they designed and decided where in the city they wanted their building to go and placed it on the tarp. Soon the empty tarp became our planned city with homes, office buidlings, a drug store, a grocery store, a factory, an apartment building, a pizza restaurant and a school.

Maybe this is why images like this sadden me just as much as seeing the people of Ukraine walking to Poland to escape the destruction caused by Putin.

My Top 10 Favorite Spaces

Yesterday a slicer named Adrienne posted right before me a slice entitled: 5 of Our Favorite Places. It got me thinking about what would be on my list. Being married to an architect, the places I go tend to involve architectural wonders. So today I’m going to reflect on and write about my top favorite built environments. Thanks, Adrienne for helping me write today.

My Top 10 Favorite Spaces

The Lawn, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
* Thomas Jefferson designed a space to be a functioning academic village and called it the University of Virginia in 1812. As you walk the lawn today, all ten Pavilions showcase examples of classical architecture. If you haven’t visited the Lawn yet, I recommend taking a walk down this UNESCO World Heritage Site. (My husband, myself and one of our daughters also our proud UVA alums!)

The Morgan Library, New York, New York
* JP Morgan’s home on Madison Avenue in New York was already pretty impressive before architect Rezio Piano designed an addition. During my last visit there, I ordered lunch and sat and read my book in this peaceful, sunlight open space.

The High Line, New York, New York
* What a gift this walkway/park is to the city of New York. As a pedestrian, it is fun to be three stories above the street level, taking a walk! Plus, it shows how with a little imagination, an old, abandoned raised railroad track can be transformed into a park!

Storm King Art Center, Hudson River Valley, New York
* One fall, we took a trip to the Hudson River Valley and fell upon Storm King. All the large modern art installations are magnificent. But my favorite is The Wall by Andy Goldsmith. There is something uplifting about being outdoors, walking along and then seeing modern art!

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
* Another large outdoor space is the impeccable gardens on the du Pont’s estate. Now open to the public, visitors can walk and enjoy the flowers and trees in all seasons and at times, enjoy a fountain show.

The Inn at Middleton Place, Charleston, South Carolina
* The inn is a modern-designed set of rooms on the grounds of the Middleton colonial farm along the Ashby River. I enjoyed staying at this hotel designed by one of my husband’s UVA architecture teacher, W.G.Clark. Especially the simple concrete, glass and wood design and the floor to ceiling windows .

Seaside, Florida
* A visit here occurred so my husband could see in-person this 1981 New Urban planned city he learned about in architecture school. Lots of great architects were involved in the design of the houses and buildings in the town. I enjoyed my stay in the cottage on the beach.

The Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain
* What a building designed by Frank Gehry! I toured it with my family just after it opened. Recently, I enjoyed watching this light show video to celebrate its 20th Anniversary.

Venice, Italy
* ALL of Venice is utterly unique. ALL of it!! My husband spent his last semester studying in Venice while getting his Masters at UVA and I joined him for a week. Then we returned three years ago with our girls to share this magical city with them over Christmas and New Years. It is now a family favorite city!

My house, Arlington, Virginia
* My husband designed the house we live in now. He calls it White-Out House because we razed our old house or whited it out, and build this energy-efficient home. Looking back on the kinds of spaces we like to spend time in, I start to see more clearly why my husband designed our home the way he did. I love it!