Sunday, May 27, 2012


As of 5pm yesterday I my work in Belfast is done... With the final submission of my project on North Belfast I begin a month-long farewell European tour before finally making my indefinite return to US soil. Here's the itinerary:

5-day trip to Denmark & Copenhagen

10-day trip with the family around Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland

Another 10-day trip with my girlfriend's family in the opposite direction around the island of Ireland

And finally, a 5-day trip to the architecture and beaches of Barcelona

The past two years have provided me with timeless memories and life-long friends. I've also grown a tremendous amount personally and academically, and I've achieved things I never thought possible only a few years ago. These travels and experiences have left an indelible mark on my life and I consider this to be a fantastic beginning to an adult life full of adventure and an undying hunger for exploration.

Thank you all for your steadfast support throughout these years because, as many of you already know, it wasn't always easy. I couldn't have done it without you.

Moving forward, I will be developing a master plan for a low-income, under-served area on the west side of Milwaukee (Between North and Center along 44th and 45th streets). Following the submission of my thesis project in September, I hope to establish myself in a community and make a difference through design or community and urban activism. I am currently looking in Chicago, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities.

Please note, this does not mark the end of my blog. I plan to post about the other design projects I worked on this year as promised and I plan to continue my updates through my summer thesis design project and into the real world. Please forgive the lack of posting over the next few months as I transition back to life at home.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Design Project: New Lodge Towers

My postings had been sparse over the past few weeks during a long break for Easter and a heavy work period for a final project and exam. In the next couple of posts I'll highlight some of the project's I've worked on this year:

The most recent project asked myself and a group of team members to analyze the change in the built environment in North Belfast over the past 40-50 years (pre- to post-troubles). Through a series of maps and photographs we discovered that through systematic slum clearance and the implementation of motorways through the area, the landscape today has become pockets of insular/'cul-de-sac'd' housing developments and disconnected from the surrounding hillside, waterfront and city center. Our goal was to increase the permeability through the area while also improving movement patterns for cyclists and pedestrians into and through North Belfast. Through a path network system and a long-term cul-de-sac redevelopment proposal among other suggestions, we proposed a more inviting and accessible North Belfast.

The following are an existing and rendered image of the area surrounding the New Lodge apartment blocks transformed from a vehicular dominated space, to a pedestrian friendly area with a walking path system between the buildings and concentrated parking area out of the picture. 



Notice the close proximity between the tower blocks and the city center.

We are currently completing the project with a final report that will be used in ongoing research on "Planning for Spatial Reconciliation" at Queen's.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Comber Theatre Visit

Since we’re on the topic of theaters, I forgot to mention my visit to a very interesting rural theater in Comber. Opened in 1974, the Tudor cinema is one of the smallest theater's I've ever seen and it was built on someones residential property. I visited the theater with the Rotary Club of Belfast to watch the movie "The Prestige". Although it was a movie I'd seen sitting in the small, neo-art-deco interior for 3 dozen viewers was an absolute treat.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

MAC Theatre

Belfast is full of excitement in the past few weeks as high time for tourism approaches. A major ad campaign called "Our Time, Our Place" run by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board has garnered international attention as the province celebrates the nature, history, and industry that make it a unique place to visit.

One of the most recent additions to Belfast is the Metropolitan Art Centre (the MAC) which has numerous at galleries and theaters. It is located within a new development known as St. Anne's Square because of its adjacency to the beautiful St. Anne's Cathedral (or Belfast Cathedral) north of the City Centre. The MAC is a welcome addition to the cultural "Cathedral Quarter" where many of the cities finest and oldest monuments are surrounded by surface parking lots as well as vacant shops and offices.

Last week I visited the MAC to watch a play they are running for the 100th anniversary of the launching and sinking of the Titanic. The play was called Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry, 1912) which was a thrilling courtroom drama highlighting the unexpected and tragic events that led to the sinking of the largest ship of its time (by far). The video below explains a bit more about the play.