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This summer, Professor Xavier Costa is leading a dialog of Art + Architectural History through his home town of Barcelona as well as Madrid. Recent graduate Natalia Escobar (M.ARCH 2016) and grad student Cyrus Dahmubed (M.ARCH 2018) are serving as teaching assistants for the program. Cyrus has sent the following update of their travels this far:

Even though we are on a train moving at 300km/h through the Spanish countryside on our way from Barcelona to Madrid, this might be the first time any of us have been quite this still since arriving in Spain three weeks ago for our Dialogue of Civilizations. The time has gone by in a blur of urban exploration, day trips outside the city, late night visits to the beach, engaging presentations with both guest lecturers and our instructor, Professor Xavier Costa, as well as a mind-opening creative studio that taught us to see the world with new eyes. In our short three weeks in Barcelona, we toured all of the city’s major sites and many of its great museums and foundations. The students used their free time to take in the city with all five of the senses (taste being the favorite, though!)

Work and play have mingled well as all students seem to have become fascinated with questions the city presents, especially those surrounding its seemingly constant process of transformation. Their analytical writing projects have given them reason to individually develop expertise – often through physical exploration – on different aspects of Barcelona’s history, development, and socio-economic and political climate. Their second course during our time here, a creative and photographic studio, resulted in an incredibly unique photo-shoot at Mies van der Rohe’s iconic monument, the Barcelona Pavilion. Three School of Architecture students, Bianca Rabbie, Kathrynn Platt, and Jossica Ramin, as well as myself and Natalia, were simply awestruck by the opportunity to work so directly and physically with this masterwork of Modernism.

A few days ago, the work from this project was displayed in a student-designed exhibition of beautifully articulated concepts in our studio at the Fundacio Enric Miralles, a space committed to the memory and preservation of the work of the late, great Catalan architect. In addition to our class rooms within the medieval cloister of the Institute for Catalan Studies at the National Library of Catalonia, this space has served as a second home for us, while Casa Gracia, located on the border of the city’s Eixample and Gracia neighborhoods has provided all we’ve needed for rest and relaxation. As we look forward to our week in Madrid and reflect on our time in Barcelona, we are incredibly grateful to all those at home and in Spain who have made our trip possible and look forward to sharing more stories!