Tagged : international

The Inauguration of Barack Obama

On January 20th 2009, two million people, including myself, were in Washington DC to witness one of the most historic US presidential inaugurations ever… The inauguration of Barack Obama. Since it’s been four years, I’ve been thinking about what to write about this truly historic event. Truth to be told, I don’t know.

Maybe a story about the great ‘We Are One’ concert of Bono, Bruce Springsteen and other celebrities will do? Or what about the strategic location I choose to see the inauguration and parade… I could talk about this for hours! No? A horror story about the ‘Purple Gate of Doom’ perhaps? Wait! It’s a party. No horror stories today…

I believe the story of an African American pastor from Chicago is great. While waiting for Obama, he told me about the moment when he met President Bill Clinton (in the 90s). One day, this pastor traveled with Clinton’s motorcade when the president decided to get some fastfood. He directed the entire motorcade to the nearest fastfood chain and used the drive through to order food for everyone… True story.

Or wait, I met this other great guy from New York. He told me about the unprecedented security measures in his nephews office, which is located next to the parade route at Pennsylvania Avenue. Or is it more interesting to tell the story about George W. Bush? I was near the White House when he arrived there for the last time while being president. That was quite something. We (the NY-guy and me) knew that president Bush’ helicopter, Marine One, would land on the South Lawn. But we didn’t expect three identical helicopters. All three approached the White House from the south. But George W. Bush was in just one of these presidential helicopters. I guess these three helicopters did the ultimate (real-life) shell game. It took us until the third helicopter to figure out in which one George Bush travelled. Speaking of people from Texas, our section of the parade route was secured by Texan police officers. How sad is that, being a republican police officer from Texas who’s deployed in the nations capital on that particular day. That’s a true ‘being in the belly of the beast’ situation. But I have to admit… we, including the Texans, had lots of fun together. Which is good, because it was an extremely cold and long wait…

Which leaves us with the last story to be told… which is the inauguration of Obama itself. During those days, the message of hope and change sounded throughout the United States. Everyone hoped for better times, which could easily be seen on the faces of the people attending the inauguration. It simply was unbelievable and something I’ve never seen before. And… the sound of two million people shouting Barack Obama’s name and going wild after he took the oath of office… That was quite something!

Well, I don’t know which story I should pick. But perhaps I don’t have to. Instead, I created a new OneMinute video (see above). It’s the inauguration (and preceding days) in just one minute. Enjoy!

Coop Himmelb(l)au Q/A part 2

Currently, Coop Himmelb(l)au is one of the most frequently used search terms to find this website. So it’s no surprise to me people want to learn more about this Vienna based architecture company. Back in July, I answered several questions about this internship at CHBL. Today, it’s time for part two. This time I’ll answer Antonio’s questions (which I received via email).

What are tasks interns usually do?

This totally depends on the team and status of the project. If you work on competitions a lot, this could involve model making. In my case, I worked on a project which was in the preliminary phase. So I made many diagrams, presentation books, et cetera. In other teams, the tasks can be more technical. Coop Himmelb(l)au assigns you to a team based on your own experiences/qualities and the job interview you (probably) had.

Were there many interns and young people besides you?

Yep. Coop Himmelb(l)au hires many young people. When I was in Vienna, I joined a group of interns who usually teamed up for lunch and/or spend evenings together.

What was the most remarkable thing that happened during your internship?

Hehe, good question. This probably is the evening we had an important deadline. We worked with about six people on a design which had to bee finished before 8AM (yep, 8AM, not PM). Halfway through the evening Wolf Prix joined us. Although he spoke German the entire time, I understood everything he said. Which surprised me, since I’m not so fluent in German. After a while, he made a joke so I joked back… in German. He looked at me… and asked an architect who I was. She told him I was an intern from the Netherlands. After which he spoke to me in a language I didn’t understand. It sounded a lot like German, but it just wasn’t. And he left. So I asked the architect what Wolf Prix said. She told me he imitated my Dutch accent by speaking weird German…

How many hours did you usually work during a typical day?

In the example described above, I worked from 8AM to 3AM the following day (so 19 hours in total). But that only happened once. Mostly I arrived at 9AM and worked until 7 or 8PM.

Are they flexible in general? I mean, decisions, schedules, etc…

You can do many things besides your daily tasks. And the office/team can be very flexible… As long as you meet your deadlines. Sometimes the partner-in-charge has a meeting with a client (which mostly happens abroad, since it’s a very international company). In my case, the main architect was in Azerbaijan a lot. During those days our team played catch-up or relaxed a bit. After two or three of those days, the architect would return. And with him, many new tasks and project changes we had to take care of.

What was the best experience you could say that you got from here?

I did several internships in the past. Each of those internships differed completely from this one. Why? It’s the size of the company (about 150 employees), the number and size of projects abroad and their own invented architecture style (Deconstructivism). Also the fact that founder Wolf D. Prix still works at this company adds something special to the experience (as described above). And perhaps I should mention Vienna is a beautiful city and great to live in. But this all gets trumped by the people. Imagine 150 creative people trying to design the most awesome, craziest and sometimes weirdest projects possible. In my first week, I met people from Germany, the USA, Azerbaijan, Greece, Turkey, Britain, China, Denmark, Portugal, Spain… should I go on? It took me several days to meet the first native Austrian employee… So meeting all those people with completely different backgrounds and learn from them (while having fun) was the best experience I got!

1 Obama on poster

November 4, 2008

November 4, 2008. The day America elected Barack Obama as their 44th president. I was lucky being in the United States on this very special day. Today it’s November 4, 2011. It’s exactly three years after these historic elections, which gives me a reason to share some of my photos.

Election Day 2008. My day started like any other day. In the morning I went to Rietveld Architects for ‘just another day at the office’. For me, Election Day started at 3PM. Together with two colleagues I went to Rockefeller Center.

NBC News turned Rockefeller Center into Election Plaza.

As you can see on this picture (above), preparations are almost done.

I didn’t go to Rockefeller to see these preparations at Election Plaza. A Dutch news show would broadcast live from the Rockefeller Center for their election coverage. I was part of the audience (which was really fun because my family in the Netherlands watched it live). They started broadcasting at 4PM (10PM in the Netherlands). Election night began!

Several hours later, the sun already set, I took a photo of this incredible view of St. Patricks Cathedral (photo is taken from the news studio in Rockefeller Center). It was time to go downstairs and visit Election Plaza.

Wow! To my surprise the Rockefeller Center turned red and blue for NBC’s broadcasting. Also the skyscraper featured a running electoral count (you can see the number 270, which is the number of delegates each candidate needs to win the elections).

At the building two carts were pulled up. One for Obama and one for McCain. The carts ended at 270 at which stage the next president would be known.

After Obama won three delegates, I together with several other people decided to go somewhere else. We figured it would be more interesting to experience the elections in Harlem, which is where we went.

We visited an Obama campaign office in Harlem. It’s the same office where I watched several of the presidential debates.

Not much later, we found out thousands of people gathered in front of the Bill Clinton Office (which is situated in Harlem). We decided to go there. On the photo above, you’ll see many camera crews from news networks all around the world. Quickly it became clear our gathering would be broadcasted live in many countries!

Together with thousands of people we watched CNN, who projected Obama as winner in Ohio (which was one of the crucial states).

Shortly after I snapped this photograph, I was interviewed by this guy. I didn’t know who he was. Moments later he gave a speech from the podium, so I figured he must be famous. Several days after the elections I found out he’s famous indeed. He’s a well known comedian and has its own show on CNN. And… his interview with me was broadcasted on CNN! (“Even the Dutch are excited”)

It wouldn’t take long until “Yes We Can” became “Yes We Did”.

NBC projected Obama as winner of the elections. Everyone went crazy!

CNN also projected Obama as winner. John Mc Cain was defeated. Barack Obama would be the 44th president of the United States.

Just look at the woman in the lower left of this photo. Need I say more?

The atmosphere was euphoric for a very, very long time.

The governor of New York gave an emotional speech.

To conclude these historic elections, Obama gave his victory speech. During his speech, almost everyone was silent (except for some people shouting “Yes We Can”).

After his speech, crowds got bigger. “O-bam-A” and “Yes We Can” echoed everywhere. People were laughing, hugging and cheering. At 125th Street, crowds were pouring in from all directions. Cars cruised slowly east and west, their windows rolled down, passengers hanging out, waving and shouting. After several hours I went back to my apartment in Lower Manhattan. It was an historic night, and I had been part of it.

chbl

Coop Himmelb(l)au Q/A

Sometimes readers of this blog ask questions about previous blog posts and my previous experiences. This time it’s a question about me being an intern at Vienna based architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au. I could answer the inquirer by email, but by answering his questions on this blog I might help other people. Here’s our Q/A…

How’s the experience?

In one word: Fantastic! In the past I worked for several architecture firms. But non of them employed over 150 employees (which is pretty big for an architecture firm!). And none of them had projects all over the world (ranging from the United States to China and from Azerbaijan to Albania). Also the fact that one of the founders, Wolf D. Prix, still works at this company adds something special to the experience. Wether you’d agree with his design philosophies or not, it is awesome to learn (first hand) from such a worldwide renowned architect! And to quote a colleague: “It is fantastic to work for a company who invented their own architecture style”. And this is actually true (check Wikipedia!).

How’s the work environment?

Very special. Each project will comprise a small team of 5-10 people. Within such a team you’ll make friends really soon. Since stakes are high, people sometimes often make long days, but are thoroughly motivated. This adds to the ‘energy’ inside the office. There are models, concept renderings and drawings all over the place!

What kind of projects did you work on?

Big projects! That’s all I can say. I’m sorry! Everyone working with Coop Himmelb(l)au has to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Since my projects aren’t even mentioned on their website (or anywhere else on the web), I’m not allowed to tell you a single thing about the projects I worked on.

What software did you use?

AutoCAD and Rhino for the 2D and 3D drawings. Also I used Photoshop and InDesign a lot.

To conclude: Perhaps the best thing at doing an internship at this (or probably any other) company is you’ll get the chance to meet so many interesting and fascinating people. And you’ll work on fascinating projects worldwide, while you live and work in the old and classic city of Vienna.

chbl

Internship @ Coop Himmelb(l)au

During my undergraduate studies I wanted to do an internship at a large international architecture firm. In 2010 I reached this goal by working for Vienna based company Coop Himmelb(l)au.

Deconstructivist Architecture

Coop Himmelb(l)au was founded in 1986. It’s an architecture firm primarily located in Vienna, Austria. The company was founded by Wolf D. Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer. It gained international acclaim alongside Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry with the 1988 exhibition “Deconstructivist Architecture” at MoMA.

Perhaps the coolest thing about Coop Himmelb(l)au is the fact they have their own style. I mean, they practically invented deconstructivism and they’re proud of it. And why wouldn’t they!

During the course of the internship I worked on several great projects. Believe me, it’s kinda special to work on skyscrapers worth over 200 million Euros (290 million USD).

Controlled Chaos

According to Wikipedia, the architectural style of Deconstructivism is characterized by ideas of fragmentation. The finished visual appearance is characterized by a stimulating unpredictability and a controlled chaos. This is also true for one of the projects I was working on… controlled chaos.

Unfortunately I can’t share any information of the project I was working on, although I already wrote it’s a skyscraper. A soon as the project hits the website of Coop Himmelb(l)au, I’ll also post it here. In the mean time, I’ll share some photos of the beautiful city of Vienna.

The Austrian Parliament

The statue of Athena in front of the Austrian Parliament

View of the world famous Schönbrunn Palace

Hofburg Theater

The Hundertwasserhaus

St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom) at Stephansplatz

The Votive Church (Votivkirche)

Inside the Austrian Parliament

Inside the Wiener Musikverein

City Hall

The ferris wheel (Riesenrad) at Prater park

‘Roman’ Ruin at Schönbrunn (erected in 1778)

View of the world famous Schönbrunn Palace during winter time

I just realized I didn’t include pictures of the Hofburg Palace, State Opera, The Johan Strauss Monument or St. Charles’s Church, to name a view. Maybe Vienna has too many monuments?!