My time as an architectural blogger began in October of 2015. I saw this internship as an opportunity to explore New York City and learn more about my hometown city. Going to college in Pennsylvania allowed me to learn much more about architecture in the Philadelphia area, but I found myself craving to know more about the city in which I grew up. An internship that encouraged architectural exploration in an urban environment was a perfect opportunity to supplement my curiosity. It gave me the chance to learn about a variety of buildings, some extremely famous, others hidden in plain sight. Every building plays a crucial role in defining the urban identity of the city, and learning more about that role through architecture is a fulfilling exercise. This internship has allowed me to focus in on specific moments within that fabric and truly learn more about how buildings contribute spatially and culturally to the environment.
Architecture does not exist in a bubble, and what has been truly liberating about this opportunity has been the fact that I have been able to explore the mutual exchange between the society and the built environment. While the physical architecture itself often remains static, the way the building is used is a fluid experience. These elements come together to define a building’s role in society, which, ultimately, is integral to understanding the urban environment. These roles mold the landscape of a neighborhood, and evolve over time. These changes can come in the form of re-branding, adaptive reuse, changes in building laws, or countless other ways. Before the internship, it was my belief that as artifacts of the past, the city’s most iconic buildings were like time capsules preserved exactly as they were in their cultural prime. However, I have come to learn that even the most famous buildings are actively changing, otherwise they would risk falling out of use.
A building’s niche in society is subject to change, and some of the city’s most iconic buildings have made a name from being culturally versatile fixture. Throughout the internship, I found my ideas and opinions about New York City constantly being challenged, and discovered that such a densely developed city always has room for growth. Just like a structurally sound building has room to bend and sway, a good building is not culturally rigid. This is perhaps the most valuable thing that I have learned during this internship. The best buildings are not permanently bound to one use, but rather are only limited by the imagination of its inhabitants. Even if the buildings themselves do not change, the people in it will continue to evolve and develop new needs, spurring them to find new and creative ways to further maximize architecture.
Credits: Photos by Quinn Harding. Data linked to sources.