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For those of you who don't know me, my name is Alissa Bozza. I currently work for the HKS Hospitality Group in our Dallas headquarters and have been living in Dallas for two years. I am a second-quarter Xchange Fellow and will be working out of our Washington, D.C. office for three months (July through September). Part one of my blog included articles one through five, beginning with my arrival into the city. Part two is a continuation of my journey in and around Washington, D.C.
Article Six: Philadelphia
My next adventure took place in another important historical city, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As I passed by their downtown and made my way through William Penn's city, it was pretty incredible to think that I was walking the same streets as some of our greatest Founding Fathers. The Liberty Bell was very iconic, as well as some of large museums and squares. One of my favorite pieces there – other than the mouthwatering cheesesteak I waited in line for over an hour to get – was the Reading Terminal Market. What an incredible urban addition. The marketplace is buzzing with people and action from the moment you enter. Restaurants, butchers, produce, shops ... I felt like I was transplanted to a European marketplace.
Article Seven: Capital One and Site Visits
The D.C. office has been great about exposing me to a different style and phase of architecture than I am used to in Dallas. I have been working on a corporate interiors project for the Capital One Headquarters outside of D.C. I have been tagging, annotating and modeling a variety of details as we prepare for a 65 percent construction document set. In doing so, I have learned a number of critical lessons in how important it is to design with the end product in mind. Both of my team leaders, Donna and Nate, have gone out of their way to teach me about construction documents, all while giving me an insight into the interior design world. Another great thing they have allowed me to be exposed to is construction administration work and site visits. I have gone on a number of site visits to projects of multiple genres and stages of construction. All have been great, however, seeing the MGM National Harbor Hotel with some of its Dallas team members was a truly unforgettable experience. The scale of the hotel is pretty unbelievable and as we walked the site, we were able to take in the project together. The sharpness and clean cut design of the tower into the MGM lobby was one of the coolest architectural details I have ever seen in person, and the illuminated white glow of the tower at night really conveys this glowing, guiding light amongst the harbor. It looked just like, if not better, than the renderings.
Article Eight: Old Town & Georgetown
One of my favorite parts about D.C. is how many amazing neighborhoods there are near downtown. Most neighborhoods, just like the rest of the city, are accessible by metro or bus. The Navy Yard has the ballpark, Chinatown has amazing food, Adams Morgan has the zoo, not to mention Maryland and Virginia have an assortment of sites and culture to experience. This is all just scratching the surface on the variety of neighborhoods around D.C., each with their own character and identity. Two of my favorite neighborhoods are Georgetown and Old Town Alexandria. Both neighborhoods transport you back in time to these old New England communities, where one can start to envision what life was like hundreds of years ago. You walk on cobblestone and brick streets past shops, pubs and homes that greats like George Washington once frequented. Old Town has such a fun, yet quiet energy to it as people roam through the streets. Georgetown tends to be busier, with a bit of a younger, fresh energy, but still carries this very old, colonial character and demeanor to it. In both cases there are parts of the town right on the water, allowing you to experience spaces that were once important ports along the East Coast.
Article Nine: Museums
D.C. is obviously known for its incredible museums, and I have been trying to take advantage of them as best as I can. Beyond what is even inside of them, the Smithsonian’s have a huge architectural presence within the city as they march their way down the mall. The majority of the museums are large, traditional structures, with individual details and architectural elements that set them apart and give them their own personalities. The National Gallery of Art can only be described as timeless with its marble stone, interior courtyards, and domed rotunda. The Newseum, which profiles the history of news within the United States, posts the front page of newspapers from every state daily and has some of the coolest exhibits and tributes I have ever seen. It even houses the radio antenna from the top of the World Trade Center and eight, 12-foot high sections of the Berlin wall. The Library of Congress quickly became one of my favorite interior spaces in all of DC. You go from some of the more reserved, traditional interiors of the Capital and then you enter a highly elaborate lobby and library full of colors and detail that one can only dream of. I was also able to see Ford's Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was shot, as well as the bed where he later died. Mount Vernon revealed such interesting details about George Washington's life, while the Arlington Cemetery left me speechless. These are some of the best collections of work and historical content our country has to offer and as you make your way through these spaces you can't help but feel a sense of national pride and personal awareness.
Article Ten: the Monuments/the Mall
The Mall and the Monuments in D.C. never cease to amaze me. Their scale is so enormous amongst the other 15-story buildings throughout the remainder of the city. The two-mile long mall, with carefully placed monuments and vistas, guides a person through the city, pulling them to continually stop and reflect at different points and look outward toward other grand structures and spaces. Each piece is truly awe-inspiring as you pause to pay tribute to various war memorials and presidential tributes. The Capital is so elaborately detailed, the Washington Monument so flawlessly simple and the Lincoln Memorial so iconic, acting as a terminus to the end of the Mall. As you walk toward the Jefferson Memorial, across the Tidal Basin, you stumble across other great monuments like the World War II, Koran War, Vietnam War, World War I, Martin Luther King, FDR, and the list could go on and on. The Jefferson Memorial is perfectly on axis with the Washington Monument and the White House, and it houses a 19-foot-tall, bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson inside a large Pantheon-like domed, marble structure. Once again, the closer you get, the more one realizes how incredibly massive this monument is. The greatest part of all of these monuments is that unlike exhibits or museums, they are accessible 24/7, 365 days a year and really become a part of the urban fabric of D.C. I will really miss being able to stumble upon greatness on a day-to-day basis.