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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, articles six through ten, was a continuation of my journey in and around Washington, D.C. Part three, is my last few adventures as well as a conclusion to my Xchange in Washington D.C.
Article Eleven: Mixed Use Projects
Although I have been working mostly on the Capital One project, the area I sat in the office allowed me to get exposed to some of the mixed-use project's they have been designing. They are working on the idea of bringing the city to the suburbs and activating spaces along the D.C. metro line. This "urban suburb" allows a person to use the train to get downtown very easily, while still having access to enough things walkable for them like grocery stores, restaurants and entertainment, so they don't feel obligated to use their car day to day. They work on connecting the spaces around the train station not only to that individual train station, but to each other at a larger macroscale. In working at the larger regional scale and then peeling back to the surrounding neighborhood and eventually block, it brings value to that individual building. Designing these blocks with green space, nodes, and axes, creates these small cities within which otherwise would be suburbia. The last few weeks I was in DC they let me dabble in some planning as well as help them with a potential marketing presentation that conveys some of these ideas to clients. I thoroughly enjoyed watching these two master plan these spaces and was happy to have gotten an insight into part of the future of urban design.
Article Twelve: Boston
I had one more big city I wanted to make sure to see before I left: Boston, Massachusetts. It is a little further away from DC, but making a pit stop in NYC made the journey pretty easy. Boston takes on its own character that differentiates it from both New York and D.C. The city has so much to offer, and all within a pretty small distance to one another. You can catch a game at the nation's oldest ballpark, Fenway Park, head to Newbury or Charles Street for some high-end shopping, eat delicious crab or lobster on the harbor overlooking the ocean, or stop into the historic North End for an authentic Italian cannoli. Not to mention Harvard and Cambridge are just a hop, skip and a jump away with beautiful colonial streets that rival Georgetown. One of their main squares, Copley Square, houses Trinity Church, which was rated one of the "Ten Most Significant Buildings in the United States" by AIA and the Boston Public Library housing over 1000 books, a beautiful stair hall and a courtyard all done by Charles McKim. Beyond all of these sites, history and attractions, the people from Boston are some of the funniest, friendliest people I have met. Their Boston pride is contagious.
Article Thirteen: The DC office
I know I have touched on individual experiences and people in the D.C. office, but it is pretty difficult to explain in words how amazing each and every person truly is. From the moment I got there to the second I left it was constant encouragement, openness and laughter. They make you feel like a special piece in this ever growing puzzle of the D.C. office. The office has such a variety of work that they go out of their way to hire people that can work in more than one sector and on more than one job at a time, and they encourage each person to be well-rounded. They share this special sense of community within the workplace and projects, but also outside of the 9-5 workday. There are a number of opportunities to pursue personal growth, whether it be through travel, other organizations, volunteering, taking tests, etc. Everyone is going out of their way to improve HKS and one another, whether it be Shannon and Mike out fighting to win jobs or Kim and Lucas maintaining the office and making sure it all doesn't fall apart, you are surrounded by such a genuine support system. I will definitely miss the communal lunches, Friday huddles and company outings. I feel incredibly lucky to have met each person and it makes me so proud to know our HKS family spreads far beyond its headquarters' doors.
I can't even begin to find the words to "conclude" this experience. The amount of traveling I did, the amount of history I learned and the amount of architecture I saw is more than I could have hoped to see in a lifetime. Washington D.C. is incomparable to any other American city. I am going to miss the office. I am going to miss the energy of the city. I am going to miss the ability to travel up and down the East Coast whenever I wanted. I am going to miss that wherever I went and whatever I did the Washington Monument was always there to welcome me back. I grew not only as an architect and designer, but as an individual. I learned valuable lessons that seem impossible to learn sitting behind a desk. I have so much gratitude to those at HKS that allowed me to go and want them to know that Washington D.C. will forever hold a very special place in my heart.