Today you’ll get a quick glimpse of Christmas in Vienna. This video includes the largest and most famous Weihnachtsmarkt of Vienna, the Christkindlmarkt, on the square in front of City Hall (Rathaus). Also you’ll see two streets decorated with thousands of lights (Graben and Kohlmarkt). Last year I visited these places many times.
Tagged : internship
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!
December 19, 2010. It’s the day I returned from Vienna after doing an internship at Coop Himmelb(l)au. I remember this day very well. Not because it was my last day in Vienna, but because of the flight back. Europe experienced extreme winter weather. Temperatures dropped below minus ten degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit). Almost no international flights were possible from and to most European airports. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, my destination, shut down for a period of several days. Tens of thousands of passengers stranded at airports throughout Europe.
I was worried my flight would get cancelled too. At 5AM, a cab drove me to Vienna Airport. It took less than ten minutes to check in, drop off my luggage and get through customs (my personal record). Relaxed as I was (I was prepared for the worst), I made my way to the gate. It turned out my flight was one hour delayed, which made me really happy. Why? Not because it’s delayed, but because this meant my flight wasn’t cancelled!
It turned out all passengers who would use Amsterdam as a stopover were denied access to the plane. Only 16 passengers (out of a sold-out 100 seat plane) boarded the plane. Since I’m tall, I immediately asked for a seat with more legroom. “Of course”, the stewardess answered. “We have many empty seats, so you can sit at 1A”. And that’s how I ended up being in business class, together with just one other passenger. Immediately after take off, the blue business class curtain closed and all business class people (yep, thats two people) were catered by our private stewardess.
Before this day started, I prepared myself for any scenario imaginable (believe me, I have a big imagination). This included (but was not limited to); overcrowded airports, no flights at all, not being able to land in Amsterdam, spend a night at the airport, boarding the wrong flight, flying to Amsterdam via Dubai or the States, you name it, I thought of it. There was just one scenario I didn’t think of. I mean, who can imagine an almost empty airport, not having to wait in line at all, an almost private plane, business class seat and a personal stewardess. Wow, it was the best flight I ever had.
Anyway, this story is meant to introduce OneMinute number thirteen. It’s a video about Vienna, the city I lived in for several months. This video starts with a 28 seconds long shot (no, it’s not boring at all!). I attached my small Panasonic camera to my bike and filmed the exterior of the Austrian Parliament in one single take. Enjoy!
Here’s the deal. You pay me 150 million euros and you receive 300 million euros back. And it’s no scam. For
many all people, this would be ‘the perfect deal’. What would your answer be?
Surprisingly, many people (or companies for that matter) answer ‘no’ to this question. BMW, the German automobile company, did not. They decided to go for it!
Back in 2000, they were in need of a new corporate headquarters. After consulting several architecture companies, they picked Wolf Prix’s Coop Himmelb(l)au as architect of their choice. In 2007 their new headquarters, BMW Welt, opened for business. The building had a staggering price tag of over 150 million euros.
When I worked for Coop Himmelb(l)au, I spoke with someone who had been involved in this project. This architect told me there was quite some debate within Coop Himmelb(l)au and BMW. Is it worth erecting a building worth over 150 million euros? Can we build it for half the money? Does BMW Welt have to be this spectacular? Ultimately Wolf Prix convinced BMW to spend the money and build this ‘temple for BWM’ as he called it. The result: In the following years, BMW received free exposure and media coverage worth hundreds of millions of euros because of their new headquarters.
I’m not suggesting bigger is always better. However, sometimes, it can be worth spending a bit more money to reach your goal. Ultimately vision and courage of the client are factors that matter most. Which is even more true during times of economic hardship.
Today, ten years ago, two hijacked planes were driven into the towers of the World Trade Center. Killing thousands of people and changing the lives of so many more. Todays remembrance made me think of three years ago.
Back then, my apartment was located on a 10 minutes walk from downtown Manhattan. On the morning of 9/11 2008 I walked to Ground Zero. The thing I remember most is the silence. It was respectfully quiet. Although it had been seven years since the attacks, I could still see tears and despair in the eyes of many people.
In the evening, hours later, I encountered the opposite of despair. I went to Columbia University to see Barack Obama the at the 9/11 Presidential Forum. He was still a candidate back then. By seeing him, sitting in the front seat of his SUV (I wasn’t allowed inside), I realized hope returned for many New Yorkers. Less than two months later, he won the US Presidential Elections which changed the lives of so many ordinary Americans.
Photo description: This is a photo I snapped several hours after I saw Obama. It’s called Tribute in Light. This is an art installation of 88 searchlights placed next to the site of the World Trade Center to create two vertical columns of light in remembrance of the September 11 attacks.