Sunday, March 31, 2013

Barcelona: Land of 1 Million Parcs


First off welcome to Barcelona! You should know that it is pronounced BarTHelona. Most of the words with 's' soft 'c' and 'z' sounds in the Spanish (only Spain, not South America, Mexico or other Spanish speaking countries) vocabulary are replaced with the 'th' sound. If it sounds like you have a lisp while saying it, you are thaying it correctly. For instance: 'gracias' becomes- grathiath. Get it? Got it? Good.

For those of you who know me, know I studied at SUNY-ESF (or the State University of New York-College of Environmental Science and Forestry, placing it in the Guinness book of World Records for the longest university name in the world). I am still featured on the college website leaving a lasting legacy. ( -Half way down on the right side. I am in the Scooby suit.)

I majored in Landscape Architecture, obviously, and was drawn to the school due to its, literally, world renowned 'off-campus' program. Our off campus semester was totally unique in that we didn't go to another university to take classes, but rather we wrote a study in the second semester of our fourth year, which we were then to carry out in the location of our choosing. For instance I studied in Australia and compared the "Sense of Place in Waterfront Resort Design". Sound like an excuse to go to Australia swim in the ocean and stay at sweet resorts? Well you are absolutely right! However I did get a lot out of my study aside from a sweet tan.

There is an excellent faculty at ESF and they come visit you during your off campus to answer questions, help you with your study, but I believe primarily to take a paid trip to an exotic locale. There is a certain professor who, although this is just me speculating, I believe bribes students to ensure a Barcelona group each year. He then accompanies this group every year to Barcelona and has become quite the expert on the city.

After visiting Barcelona for only a day, it easy to see why anyone, especially a Landscape Architect, would come back to this place year after year. It is an absolute mecca for designers of all backgrounds. Barcelona (as mentioned on the 'Barcelona Bus Turistic') is 'constantly changing to ensure a better quality of life for not only those living here, but tourists as well.'

As I walked through the city the first day blog after blog popped into my head. I could easily do a blog for each park! The titles flooded my brain! Parc Güell: Just a 'Gaudi' Walk in the Parc, Ramblin' on Las Ramblas, View from the Top: Montjuic in a Nutshell, Plaça Catalunya: In the Middle of it All. A blog for each park? As the great female African American pop culture icon of our time said: 'Ain't nobody got time for that.' (

It is very refreshing to see the amount of well designed public places in Barcelona and how great the range of styles is. The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya which is housed within the Palau Nacional has an incredible grand plaza lined with countless fountains leading up to it.  The sheer size of this place is awe-inspiring.  There are wide open plazas in front of massive Cathedrals in the Barrio Gotic. Las Ramblas is an incredibly wide pedestrian mall lined with small artisian kiosks bordered by one way street traffic and flanked by stores. Parc de Diagonal Mar is a fantastic modern park that meanders 'diagonally' from the beach inland along stone pathways, over elevated bridges and boardwalks, around water features and under unique shade structures. Port Olimpic is in the middle of the 'Olympic Village' from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and showcases shops, restaurants and a beachfront boardwalk the stretches on for miles. Of course you cannot forget Parc Güell. Another of Antoni Gaudi's works, although it had originally been planned as an English style housing community before the funding was cut short. It shows that maybe, just maybe, some architects know a little bit about site design. :)  The following are pictures showing a few of these places.

Plaza in Front of Palau Nacional

Las Ramblas
La Rambla (waterfront)
Mercat off of Las Ramblas
Parc de Diagonal Mar
Shade Structures and Stone Path

Wood Bridge and Lighting
Earth Berms in the Sun
Gigantic Metal Slides for Children...or Adults
Port Olimpic
'Sustainable' Building Model
Port Olimpic and Beach

Parc Güell

THE Gaudi Lizard
Handcrafted Columns and Bench
Stone Wall and Stairs Amidst Lush Gardens
One Happy Landscape Architect

This is only a sampleing of the public spaces within this magnificent city. It is really great to see the preservation of the historic areas as well as the support and incorporation of modern art and architecture. The way they intertwine is quite marvelous and creates a unique fabric that makes up the city that is Barcelona.

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