13 April 2010

London Times

At eight in the morning on Saturday, our studio of fourteen lands at Heathrow—tired and hungry from seven hours on the plane, but excited about visiting the city and the offices of the Advanced Geometry Unit.  Business class must make the trip much more tolerable, otherwise, I’m not sure how Cecil Balmond could stand the trans-Atlantic flight every two weeks or more.  It takes us three and half hours to get from the airport to Paddington Station, then via the Underground to Tottenham Court Road.  Heading up the long,  steep escalator to the street, I start to recognize the place.  
                We are near the Architectural Association, one of the best known schools of architecture in the world where architects such as Zaha Hadid, and Rem Koolhaas studied in the 1970s.  I attended a three-week summer program at the AA in 2006 and used this Underground stop almost every day.    My interest in non-linear design was first piqued by a presentation that summer by architects Ben Aranda and Chris Lasch.   
                Fond memories of my friends from the program fill my head as we walk past the AA buildings in Bedford Square and finally reach the Langland Hotel.  We drop off our bags in the luggage room and with me leading the way head out for a proper English breakfast:  greasy sausages, runny eggs, and the always strange baked beans.  We attempt to visit the nearby British Museum to see Norman Foster's roof addition, but the jetlag overwhelms us and we retreat to the hotel for a nap.  
Four small twin beds—two separate and two joined by full size sheets await myself and three roommates in our converted attic.  The toilet and the shower are down the hall.  It is not luxurious, but for twenty pounds per person with an English breakfast included we are happy to deal with our penthouse suite: Some of the other students disagree and move down the street to roomier accommodations. 
After our extended nap some of us head out toward Trafalgar Square, determined to see the city despite Tuesday’s looming review.  Though I had been to many of the buildings before,  I see Lloyd's of London for the first time and am shocked to find that Richard Rogers' "high-tech" structure is concrete.  We also see the Tate Modern Museum the Millennium Bridge, and Big Ben before finding a pub for fish and chips and another strange English side--mashed peas. 

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