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I Don’t Want To Be An American Idiot…So I’m Soaking Up All The Culture I Can In Vienna!

14 Sep

Vienna was such an unexpected surprise! Aside from Paris, this may be my new favorite European city. In fact, Vienna is almost like a smaller, German-speaking version of Paris. The culture is so rich in art, literature, opera, and history. From the baroque architecture of the zoo to the classical musicians performing in the parks, it is evident that the people take great pride in sharing their search for beauty with any willing observers.

On our first day there, we had to of course snap a few photos outside of the beautiful Opera house, even if our two days in Vienna didn’t quite give us an opportunity to see one of their incredible performances.

Afterwards we headed over to the Naschmarkt Market for our first taste of Vienna. We skipped the delicious ethnic food restaurants in favor of trying some of the dried fruits and oil-marinated, cheese-filled vegetables at the numerous delicatessens.

The market had such an eclectic mix of people there to pick up their weekly groceries, meet friends for a meal, or simply wander around the market looking for an adventure. I think that this graffiti on one of the closed kiosks sums up the quirky, artsy, youthful vibe of the market itself.

Amazingly, the spice collection at the Naschmarkt Market was even more diverse than the one at the famous Turkish Spice Bazar! Seeing all the exotic spices, fresh produce, and other fun ingredients made me want a kitchen to cook with them, or at least more room in my suitcase to bring the yummy goodies back to my own kitchen.

I absolutely adore this sign outside of one of the vendors at the Naschmarkt Market. Too cute!

These little Viennese Hummel figurines are the sweetest playthings ever! American children with their barbies and transformer toys are missing out on these adorable porcelain figures.

Watching a wave of nostalgia wipe over my mom’s face as soon as the clock chimed and the bird popped out of these cuckoo clocks was one of the highlights of the trip for me by far. It’s amazing how simple objects can bring people instantly back to a specific moment in time. There’s nothing quite like watching your mom become a little girl all over again!

When I first saw the bold mosaic work of this building, my initial thought was that it had to be a Gaudi building, but to my surprise St. Stephen’s Church dates back to the 12th century. While the tiled roof was a post-WWII upgrade after a fire, it still bears no connection to Gaudi.

I love the beautiful details of ancient European churches, and the ornate windows on this Gothic church were no exception.

As we were wandering back to our hotel after an exciting first day in the city, we stumbled upon these talented classical musicians setting up shop to share their art with anyone willing to take the time to listen. The taste and refinement of their music is such a far cry from the goofy street performers back in LA!

This spectacular wedding dress cake outside of Demel made my draw absolutely drop! It looks so real that it is near impossible to imagine anyone ever eating such a work of culinary mastery. It would break my heart to ever cut into a cake as spectacular as this! 

When I saw the perfect little frosting shoes, I knew that we would have to come back the next day to try something from the sweet geniuses at Demel. unfortunately the sweets did not live up to the extraordinary expectations that the dress/cake had ingrained in our imaginations. The Imperial Torte at Cafe Imperial far surpasses the desserts here (or anywhere in Vienna for the matter).

Other than the Imperial Torte, this would have to be my favorite thing that I ate in Vienna. It was perfectly charred pieces of octopus accompanied by tangerine segments and jicama wasabi rolls. Yum! It was the perfect salty-sweet-sour-spicy combination.

Just a short metro ride away from the city was the beautiful  Schönborn gardens. The curvaceous intricacies of the greenhouse and dainty landscape designs made me giddy as soon as we stepped into the park. 

Here’s a close up of the gorgeous architecture!

Just past the green house is the incredible  Schönborn Zoo. They had such incredible animals including Lesser Pandas (such a mean name) and nearly a dozen species of monkeys. Check out the beautiful Victorian architecture of the monkey habitat. It is the most stylish zoo I’ve ever seen!

I love this sweet image of two elephants fighting/flirting. I’ve never seen two elephants interact so intensely, so this was a real treat for me to observe. Don’t they look so in love ?

Even in Austria, german pretzels were all the rage. They sold these massive doughy treats throughout Vienna, so of course I had to snap a picture of this one that’s the size of my head for my pretzel-loving boyfriend!

 Here is the stately Schönborn Palace around which the green house, zoo, running paths, train, and play labyrinths revolve. The cheery yellow and vibrant colors make the place feel so joyous and carefree!

After climbing up the hill for about 10 minutes, we received this incredible view of the entire  Schönborn Palace grounds. So lovely! I simply could sit on this bench and stare out of the beautiful city all day.

Here’s a better look at the incredible view we had of the Vienna skyline. While we didn’t have a full day to travel out to visit the place where The Sound Of Music was filmed, this view seems pretty spectacular to me!

Vienna seems like such the perfect intellectual city. People simply sit around reading parks and cafes. It seems like the most whimsical, carefree way to live. Books beat TV and facebooking any day!

All good things must come to an end, so my Dad and I took a lovely even stroll through Vienna, soaking up all we could of the beautiful city. I love the way that the setting sun reflected off this gorgeous glass Palmenhaus restaurant.

Have you been to Vienna before? Did the city steal your heart as easily as it stole mine?

Miscelaneous May

29 May

After five months of blogging, I’ve come to realize the importance of editing. That’s why many of my photos and ideas for blog posts didn’t actually make it onto ModernAlice. Even still, I wanted to share with you some of the exciting things that I’ve been up to this month. So here’s a compilation of random photos from the past month.

My adorable pooch, Cassie, blending in with the stuffed animals

Making a rainbow at Prom

A recycled owl…how’s that for nature

Architectural paintings at the art show

More recycling with bottle cap furniture

Fun with the Wizard of Oz

Satirical art at its best

Having a blast with my friends at Grad Night where we, the graduating seniors, got to have Disneyland all to ourselves until the wee hours of the morning

My youngest sister having the time of her life climbing the pile of bean bags at my other sister’s outdoor movie party

The perfect tutu that would make any little girl’s dreams come true

Adorable vintage shop on Abbot Kinney filled with vintage treasures

Playful architecture on Abbot Kinney

Awesome cork chair…I want one of these in my home one day

ChakWave juices that blend herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables to appeal to the seven main chakra energy points

Nobuhiro Sato’s concrete mansion planter that experiments with the ideas of architecture to create lifestyle design accessories

Incredible brick and mortar street art on Abbot Kinney

Unique DIY succulent arrangements and terrariums at The Juicy Leaf

Adorable puppy bowls that would make any spoonful of soup or ice cream even better

Cute wooden bears with absolutely no purpose other than to make you smile

Draw Me A House: A Book of Colouring in, Ideas and Architectural Inspiration

Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony with my mom for Mother’s Day

 So lovely readers, what exciting things have you done this month? What do you have planned for next month’s summer fun?

Playtime with Legos

23 May

When anyone makes the transition from the carefree pleasures of childhood to the serious responsibilities of adulthood, as I am about to make now when I graduate high school in just under a month, there is tremendous pressure to simply grow up. Well quite frankly, I don’t want to. There is no rule that when you become an adult that you must leave youthful fancies behind. The most succesful and happy adults are those who remember to play.

I plan to always make time to play because it is just as importance as meditation or exercise in terms of maintaining mental and physical well being. Playtime is full of rewards whether you’re exercising on the playground with your kids, boosting your general knowledge with a game of trivial pursuit, or simply having a good time to get your creative juices flowing.

Legos are one of the most beneficial and beloved toys in America because they encourage kids to embrace their creativity and they are just plain fun! I wish that I can say that I was a lego lover growing up, but they’ve become more of a recent love. Check out some of the incredible ways that people have been using their legos and see the innovative things that people have done to express their adoration for America’s favorite toy!

Simon Pillard and Philippe Rossetti’s 20,000 Lego kitchen island from Dwell

Lego lunchbox from Firebox


Lego soap dispenser from Simply Sara

Lego cake from Betty Crocker

Lego Bow tie from Made in Forest Hills

Lego conference table from abgc Architecture and Design

Lego crayons from Crafty C0rn3r

Lego messenger bag from Luxfordst

Lego deer taxidermy kit from David Cole


Lego building inserts in Toulouse, France for Imaginez Maintenant (Imagine Now)

What’s your favorite way to play?

Schools of the Future

19 May

Long gone are the days of little red school houses. With today’s rapid technological advances, schools are changing more rapidly than ever.

Technological advances such as tablets and ipads are starting to render traditional textbooks obsolete, so 20 years from now, when students no longer have to carry books to and from their classes, will kids even need lockers?

Repurposing outdated lockers

Another use for unneeded lockers

With innovative developments in sustainable architecture, will schools begin incorporating enough solar panels and eco-friendly materials that schools of the future cease to resemble schools of the past?

Student Center at the University of Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland

Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia

With so many internet resources available with the mere click of a mouse, will  schools need libraries any more?

Library of Ørestad College in Copenhagen, Denmark

With an increasing trend of grow one’s own food for health and environmental sustainability purposes, will schools start to look more like farms?

Green School in Bali with its own farm, a bicycling program, solar power, and an organic chocolate factory

Vertical Garden at Drew School in San Francisco, California

What other changes that we can’t even imagine yet will change

Schools around the world are starting to implement innovative new designs and technologies to give us a small glance at what the future of schools may hold. How do you think schools will change in the next few decades?

Unique LA Recap

15 May

What I love most about living in LA (besides the weather of course) is that there is always something to do. Downtown especially is filled with exciting events, restaurants, shops, and attractions. From tracking down the Coolhaus ice cream sandwich truck to watch both the Lakers and the Clippers in second round play off games on the same day, to admiring the architecture was beautiful enough to become the focus of 500 Days of Summer to visiting the monthly Art Walk, Los Angles always has something exciting to offer!

Even while sitting in a downtown parking outside The California Market Center over the weekend, I was lucky enough to simultaneously view Banksy’s “Park” street art and timeless Art Deco gems like the beautiful Eastern Columbia Building. Where else in the country is there such a breathtaking combination of perfect sunshine, poignant art, and historic architecture?! I really do love LA.

Back to the story…the reason that I was sitting in the parking lot is that on Sunday for Mother’s Day I had the pleasure of attending the fourth annual Unique LA Spring Show Downtown with my mom and three sisters. We always love attending these fabulous craft fairs to find super talented local artists and designers. The Spring, Summer, and Holiday Unique LA shows are two of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles. If you live in San Francisco or New York, make sure to checkout the Unique SF Show on June 20 and July 1 or the Unique NYC show that they are hoping to start soon!

There was a $10 admission fee, but a dollar of every ticket goes towards supporting another local organization, CicLAvia, and upon entry each guest gets a canvas tote with art designed by a local artist specifically for the event. At each Unique LA event, the nonprofit organization changes, as does the artist who designs the bags. Unique LA also offers free snacks, a free  photo booth, and a free craft station.

As always, the tremendous creativity of the 325 designers who showcased their work at the event amazed me. This is both the perfect place to pick up a unique, handmade gift for even the pickiest people on your list and a lovely way to spend an afternoon with friends. There are countless booths with beautiful jewelry, hilarious t-shirts, quirky home decor, awesome terrariums, intriguing sweets, upcycled vintage goods, and artsy prints. With so many talented artists in one place, you’re bound to find something that strikes your fancy. The artists are almost all incredibly friendly and they are often willing to negotiate prices with you or give you a better deal if you buy multiple items.

We ended up buying magic wallets made from old books, inventively flavored pickles, earrings, ghost pepper hot sauce, seed bombs, a necklace, and other fun goodies. There were so many great things for sale that it was hard to choose what to buy!

One of the coolest things at Unique LA this weekend (although I didn’t really appreciate it until after I got home), is that they got Caine Monroy, the 9-year-old inventor of Caine’s Arcade, to bring his homemade, cardboard arcade to the event. When we saw the elaborate cardboard set up, my sister was immediately stunned and told me how she cried during the video. Although I has heard of the arcade built by a young boy in the back of his dad’s auto parts shop, it wasn’t until I came home and cried as I watched the video myself that the magnitude of Caine’s creativity and hopefulness really hit me.

If you haven’t heard of the kid genius who became famous overnight, check out Nircan Mallick’s moving video, about Caine’s Arcade immediately….and have a box of tissues nearby.

Inspirational Installations

27 Feb

This week I’m searching the internet for architectural installation inspiration. My teacher is trying to get permission for the third and fourth year architecture students to temporarily transform a space in our high school with a 3-D interactive installation piece.

I’ve always loved installations because their short-term nature creates nearly limitless possibilities for designers. The practical limitations that normally impinge upon architects’ creativity no longer apply in these transient projects. This installations are innovative fusions of art and architecture that truly impact viewers. Here are some of my favorites…

Picnurbia by Vivia Vancouver

This past August, on a trip to Vancouver I was fortunate enough to see this curvaceous stretch of bright yellow turf installed by Vivia Vancouver. They took over a street in the heart of downtown Vancouver, right outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The designers created this installation to present locals with an opportunity to take a break from hectic urban life to slow down, relax, and maybe even have a picnic.

My own photo of Picnurbia

Tablecloth by Ball Nogues Studio

In 2010, one of my favorite installation groups, Ball Nogues, combined 268 tables and stools to create this space for student to perform and socialize in UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall Courtyard. As the “tablecloth” meets the ground, it creates an intimate sitting area for students, which enables viewers to interact with the installation. This genius collaboration with the UCLA schools of Architecture and Urban Design, Music, and Design Media Arts not only increased visitors’ experience, but it also enhanced the acoustic qualities of the space. On of the aspects of this design that impressed me most is its lack of waste, because when they tore down the design, they donated all of the seats and tables to provide extra seating for members of the UCLA community.

Designbloom's coverage of Tablecloth

Swimming Pool by Argentine artist Leandro Erlich

In both New York’s Art Center and Japan’s 21 Century Art Museum, Leandro Erlich built  full-sized swimming pools for his installations, and filled only the top 10 centimeters with water, reserving the space below it as an empty space that viewers can enter. His disorienting piece creates the illusion of the visitors standing fully clothed, breathing at the bottom of the swimming pool.

Bored Panda's Coverage of Fake Swimming Pool

2007 SCI-Arc Installation

Each year SCI-Arc Freshmen work together to design a series of installations that they put up throughout the building to showcase student innovation and creativity. When I visited the campus, it was amazing to hear that the faculty worked with the fire department to update the building so that students could build their incredible design without breaking fire code. I was equally amazed to learn that students only a year older than me were able to create the design and lead the execution of making this incredible installation a reality.

Archinect coverage of SCI-Arc installation

Stacked Chairs by Doris Salcedo

Salcedo transformed an empty lot with this avant-garde sculpture using 1,550 chairs piled atop each other for the International Instanbul Biennale in 2003. By occupying a space normally occupied by humans with chairs, objects that humans normally occupy, she elevates these mundane objects to create a thought-provoking art installation.

Wooster Collective's coverage of Stacked Chairs

Green Drink Installation in Auckland, New Zealand

The designers unveiled this installation at the monthly Green Drink sustainability talks in Auckland in 2008. The incorporation of living plants heightens the organization’s message about the importance of working to improve the planet’s wellbeing. I love the wittiness behind the designer’s idea of replacing the polluting toxins that normally spill out of massive barrels, with fresh life.

Celsias's coverage of Green Drinks installation in Auckland, New Zealand

Mirror of Judgement by Michelangelo Pistoletto at the Serpentine Gallery

Pistoletto wrapped shoulder-high cardboard in a swirling maze to force visitors to travel through the space to view the collection of Christian, Islamic, Jewish, and Buddhist sculptures. I think it is wonderful how he forces visitors to build patience and understanding as they move through the narrow spaces in order to view the art. The cardboard installation  truly enhances visitors’ openness and appreciation of the various religions.

Dezeen's coverage of the Mirror of Judgement by Michelangelo Pistoletto at the Serpentine Gallery

Park(ing) in the City…A look at cool urban buildings that incorporate outdoor green spaces

21 Jan

For my current architecture project, I am designing a city center in Downtown Los Angeles with a park/garden on the roof as a way to introduce more green space to the crowded metropolitan area. I am planning to include open space for children to run around, picnic tables, a fire pit, tree swings, and various community garden spaces.

Here is a round up of cool green buildings that inspired my design. It’s amazing how these innovative designs combine science and architecture to benefit the environment and enrich people’s experiences!

Rooftop garden atop a home in Gunma, Japan by R A Architects 

From Dornob

VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre in Vancouver, Canada By Parkins + Will

From PerkinsWill

Organic Roof at Nanyang Technology University in Singapore by CPG Corporation

From Inhait

Rooftop Garden on Manhattan, New York’s Solitaire Building

From Way Faring Travel Guide

RAU Architects’ Green office 2015: office space meets park

From Inhabit

Graft Work’s Roof Garden in Greenwich, New York

From Dornob

Villa Bio by Enric Ruiz Geli in Barcelona, Spain

From ArchDaily

Walklet modular mini park by Rebar Architects 

From RebarGroup

Aija Borisova’s plan for Jubilee Gardens

From Aija Borisova