An architects' adventure: Exploring the beauty of Barcelona
An Orlando-based architect raves about his trip to Spain through AIA’s Architectural Adventures travel program
Dan Farmer, AIA, is principal of Farmer Architecture in Orlando, Florida, specializing in commercial, retail and industrial projects. He’s also one of many architects who’ve taken advantage of AIA’s Architectural Adventures travel program, which offers a series of expert-led, architecture-centric tours to destinations around the world. As a traveler on the Barcelona excursion, Farmer shares his thoughts on what made this tour stand out among the many he’s taken during his architectural career.
My kids know, when we go on vacation, that I’m going to give them an architectural lecture. I’ve been an architect for more than 40 years; I can’t think of anything I want to do more than this, and I’ve been lucky enough to get paid to do it. For me to go on a trip and not experience the architecture is not even an option.
I’ve wanted to visit Barcelona for decades; I studied Antoni Gaudí in college. Honestly, if you had just taken me to the Sagrada Familia and then sent me home, I would’ve been happy. But it was so much more than that. The experts that led our tours and gave our instructional lectures were extremely qualified. They were college professors; architectural historians; city planners; people who knew, intimately, what they were showing us. To also receive Learning Units from AIA that went right onto my transcript, that was the icing on the cake.
I’m also an amateur history buff, so when I go to a place it’s natural to want to understand how it became what it is today. In Barcelona, the guides started with this 2000-year-old Roman city and moved forward from there, showing us its different layers, how the city developed, and what was important, politically and economically, right up to today.
Another enjoyable part of the experience was the fact that it was a small group of 17 people. With a larger group, I don’t know if we would’ve come together the same way. It was a radically different group, too: New York to California, Florida to the Northern Plains. We seemingly had no real connection to each other, but something about the way the tour was put together made us feel as if we all somehow belonged here.
If you’re interested in a tour with Architectural Adventures, make sure you visit somewhere you’re truly interested in. If you have no interest in Japanese architecture, don’t go to Japan. Pick something of interest to you or a place you’ve really wanted to see. Secondly, understand that this isn’t just a vacation tour. You’re there to learn; it’s very active. It’s about learning, about history, about style, and about how and why that place came to be.
As for 2018, I am looking into the Bauhaus and Beyond tour. It’ll be intriguing not only to tour it but to understand what was going on in Germany and Eastern Europe at the time, and then to view the buildings in that context. Architecture grows out of history and sociology; to understand those helps you better grasp why and how things were created. —As told to Steve Cimino