Along with MAXXI, the MACRO museum (Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Roma), which is designed by a female architect, Odile Decq, is one of the two contemporary art museums in the center of Rome. Located in Nomentano district, the new museum is redesigned from a 19th-century Peroni brewery. IMG_5258When you walk along the street, you will notice a glass box above a really old industrial building. The architect designs several galleries, a café, a bookshop, a roof terrace and a fascinating auditorium based on the traditional building’s structure. Under the raised glass corner, visitors can enter the museum through a small courtyard. IMG_5166Standing at the lobby, people will be fascinated by a bright red explosive auditorium inserted at the center of the atrium and a series of suspended zigzag walkways designed for connecting different corners. As the heart of the building, the dramatic form of the auditorium creates a kinetic quality to the entire space. At the same time, above the dramatic volume, there is a complicated exposure roof structure system. Daylight can go into the building through the inclined panel of glass. Now, the roof is painted, so the whole interior spaces will be decorated by colorful changing shadows during daytime. Walking though the floating walkways is absolutely the most excited part of the whole building. IMG_5211You can go to the different galleries to appreciate art works and catch the different views of the auditorium. You probably will find a huge black door at the end of the walkway, which is actually the door of the main exhibition. Behind the door, you will notice a stair that is connected to a mystical dead-end. My suggestion is that you should go up the stair and check the black corner without any hesitation. A big surprise is waiting for you. Though the other stair, you will arrive at the beautiful roof terrace, which establishes a strong connection to the city of Rome. The sculptural form of the roof provides people with different spatial experiences.IMG_5078

Since Decq designed the extraordinary fascinating building, people always compare the MACOR to MAXXI that is also designed by a female architect, Zaha Hadid. Without orthogonal element, they both focus on unusual form to create the different and modern buildings for the historical city. I can’t tell which one is better since they all did really great works. Come to visit MACOR and tell me which one you prefer.


Address: via Nizza 138 — 00198 Roma

Hours: 11:00 to 19:00 from Tuesday to Sunday

11:00 to 22:00 on Saturday

Price: € 12,50

Florence Sketches

Klaas Reimann-Philipp- Feb 12, 2013 602 PM - Firenze Sketches Klaas Reimann-Philipp-10 copy sm  View of Florence from San Miniato al Monte by Klaas Reimann-Philipp

We all (students and professors) had a marvelous trip to Florence recently, and you have probably read the blog entries that described our activities while we there there. Here are four slide shows that offer you examples of the sketches made by the students, categorized by sketching assignment. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do!

Professors Barrett and Pilat

Florence powerpoint I Volumes and Surfaces

Florence powerpoint 2 Palazzi

Florence powerpoint 3 Urban Space

Florence powerpoint 4 Rivers

A Little Bit of Home and a Little Bit of Rome!

So usually our blog is dedicated to giving you the low down on what to see and do in Rome each week but I thought I’d change that up a little. This one is consequently titled “A little bit of home and a little bit of Rome!” These past two days reflect that and how even though we are 5,500 miles away the little things make it feel like you could walk outside and be several places in the US. However then there are places you visit unlike anywhere else in the world. For a few friends and me that would be the Vatican Museum home of the Sistine Chapel, the Hard Rock Café Roma, and a little boy’s 5th birthday party.

As my lovely roommate Lena discussed in her recent post the Vatican Museum is a little bit of Heaven; with corridors of rooms painted and decorated to perfection. After winding through several of these you descend a set of stairs, an air of quite consumes the surroundings, and you step into the Sistine Chapel. As we walked in and turned our eyes to the ceiling The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo stares back down. It’s quite the sight to behold as these frescoes are gorgeous. After exiting I comment that can now be marked off my bucket list, because isn’t that what traveling is all about; experience unique cultures all over the world, and seeing things that leave you in awe.

After we make the long walk across the city to the Hard Rock Café Roma and once inside it is apparent this has an American style. The servers speak English, and the menu is all in English which is something uncommon here. We order burgers with cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce, ribs, and fries. This is one of the first times it has truly felt like home. As we compare the other Hard Rocks we’ve visited while we eat, it no longer feels like when we walk out doors we will be an ocean away from Oklahoma, we are just enjoying a little taste of America.

Lastly a birthday party, something we all look forward to especially as a little kid. It’s a tradition to get together with friends and family, play games, blow out candles, and open presents but for our Professor’s son, his 5th birthday is a unique one. Not many kids would be ok with hanging out with a bunch of 20 year olds, however he makes the most of having us all play pin the tail on the doggy. Again this feels like home, especially when the homemade brownies come out as the cake. And there’s nothing like a remote control car to make a little boy as happy as can be.

So we are learning it’s about the little things in this adventure that are the true entertainment. The little things that make you feel like home and the little things that make you feel miles and miles away from ordinary. The Vatican Museum, Hard Rock Café Roma, and a birthday party are all fun adventures just with different perspectives. So let us continue to enjoy birthdays, and marking things off our bucket lists a little by little.


Vatican Museum – Heaven on earth?

The museum entryway

The museum entryway

Feeling a bit touristy and daring, a couple of us Sooners decided to go and explore the Vatican City and its museums today. I went with high hopes, expecting to find a lavish city filled with the typical roman ornament, but what I actually found was both overwhelming and underwhelming.

The line for the museum is not actually found in Saint Peter’s Square, but around the old city wall to the north where a rather large line had formed (despite the fact the museum did not actually open for another 20 minutes). When turning the corner to enter you are greeted by a IMG_1408rather modern lobby and staircase up to the beginning of the museum, making us question if we were in the correct line to begin with, after all we were going to see the a museum that was established in 1506. We began climbing a spiral ramp with small cases of boats from around the world and over time. The top of the ramp lead to a strange juxtaposition of an older building (now gift shop  with a relatively new ramp and large skylight. Seeing these modern elements began to change my expectations for what the rest of the tour had in store.

We began the long tour around the Vatican’s grounds to find room after room filled with statues and nothing more, with the exception of the spectacularly decorated rooms themselves. We walked through what seemed like a hundred rooms (and that probably was not far off) each featuring some sort of breath taking element, from the frescoes  to hand carved wood ceilings, to the most detailed mosaics I have ever seen. No room was the same as the last, each covered from floor to ceiling in such decadence that I began to consider the countless hours of work and craft each room took to assemble. This museum housed some truly beautiful artifacts; from every reach of the globe, collected over hundreds and hundreds of years. But what is real on display in the rooms themselves.

Hand laid mosaic floor

Hand laid mosaic floor

Each room featured marvelous views up

Each room featured marvelous views up

The tour took us through to the Sistine Chapel, where we sat in amazement. Every inch covered in paint and featuring the iconic images of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment, this is where I was left disappointed. These paintings seem on almost every postcard, taught in every art appreciation course, and continually referenced as being on everyone’s to see bucket list, but you are not prepared for how small these scenes are. It is best described as being told that you get to do see the Eiffel Tower and being brought to Las Vegas opposed to Paris. Despite these minor disappointments you are drawn back into just starring into every fresco. Caty Townsend even declared that if she was the Pope, she would just lie on the floor and gaze up for hours. Adding to the excitement, we realized we were standing in the Sistine Chapel a week before the Pope’s official resignation and the electoral process would begin once more and a new Pope would be elected.

The double spiral exit staircase, added in the 30's

The double spiral exit staircase, added in the 30’s

The Vatican Museums are far from disappointing, this is home to some of the most beautiful paintings and tapestries from all over the world. This large collection and the museum itself is a stunning example of the importance the Vatican plays throughout history. I will probably never be surrounded by so much beauty again.

Lunch in the Ghetto

Headline: Showcasing the historic Jewish Ghetto

It’s 12:15 and you’ve just finished your Italian class, all fired up and confident with the new words you learned, ready to try out your knowledge on the unsuspecting inhabitants of the Jewish Ghetto. Coincidentally, you’re also starving (it’s a recurring theme, at least in my experience). What better way to practice the language than to do so in the service of your stomach? Here’s where I come in. Most of the best lunch places in the ghetto are tiny, nondescript, and barely have a sign over the door. It’s a maze for those hungry and unfamiliar with the choices, but with this blog as a guide, you’ll never be lost for good flavor in the ghetto again.


If you’re in the death grip of starvation and can’t imagine walking more than a few steps beyond the classroom door, fear not—I have no idea what this place is called, but a few classmates have sworn by it. In their experience, the best way to order is to walk in, sit down, and ask for the waiter’s food suggestion. These two had a pasta they claim was indescribable (partly because they don’t have the proper Italian words, partly because it was just that good!), and they remember seeing deep-fried artichoke on the menu, which is next on my must-try list.


Don’t let the underwhelming appearance scare you — this cafeteria is a very popular local gathering place.

Just a few steps further, you stumble across the height of local pizza flavor. Pizza Franco e Cristina is fantastic not just known for its large collection of tipi di pizze, but also because it was a noisy, bustling, crazy microcosm of all things Italian: the heightened emotion, scrambling for position at the counter, violent gestural discussions, huge plates of fresh pasta and vegetables, and general overall confusion. I had a blast nibbling on my panino con l’uovo e formaggio in the corner, just watching the exchange.

Come lunchtime, this place is packed out into the street.

There are tons of outdoor places to sit and people-watch.

If you’re in a grab-a-bite-and-run sort of mood, there are handfuls of bars scattered throughout the ghetto with all manner of panini: my egg and cheese sandwich came on a really fantastic crusty but light-as-air homemade bread, and there’s the famous tomato and mozzarella combination (you really can’t get away from it, it’s everywhere). My favorite panini shop is in Campo dei Fiori, a five-minutes’ walk from the ghetto. They have really great prices, large portions, and a great selection. Try the panino con porchetta—it’s a home-roasted pig cooked skin-on to seal in all the juices and flavor, injected with some creamy combination of rosemary and oregano. Throw it on a bit of pizza bianca bread, and there’s a meal to remember.

Fonzio’s. Specialty Kosher, atypically Italian, but their fries are fantastic, and they even have ketchup!

There will come a time in every student’s life when he’s just plain had enough of Italian food. Well, look again. Fanzio’s, the Kosher grill right off the Piazza delle Cinque Scole, has a large assortment of burgers (sans cheese) and –please quote me on this—the best onion rings I’ve ever tasted. Il 420 (that’s il centoventi if you’re practicing) is their basic fare, but even it comes with a twist. Thin-sliced cucumbers and a sort of salsa topping add flavor and style. Step it up with a “fresh burger,” topped with guacamole and aioli, or a fried sort of veggie burger. It’s not quite what you’re used to, but it definitely scratches the itch.

Delectable salmon, cream cheese, and who knows what else. Strongly reccommended–numero cinque on the lunch menu.

Finally, I can’t leave without sharing the most recent delicacy we stumbled upon in the Jewish ghetto. The Ristorante Kuriya is the perfect treat after a long Italian binge diet of pizza and pasta. The normal menu is a bit pricy, but the lunch menu has large multi-course meals for a fantastic price. The sushi was a little bit of heaven, the rice perfectly sticky, and forks did not come standard with the table. My piatte of choice came with a salad with house ginger dressing, a bowl of miso soup, a salmon roll, and a bowl of fruit to finish. A great meal for a great deal!

Political Regimes and Political Subjects

In Adam T. Smith’s The Political Landscape: Constellations of Authority in Early Complex Polities he addresses the excavation of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur in contrast to modern attempts by political regimes to demonstrate political authority through shaping urban environments. A prime example comes from Dr. Pilat’s article La Parola al Piccone which, discusses how under Mussolini, Fascists sought to reconstruct the urban fabric of Rome by ambitiously reconstructing remnants of the ancient Roman Empire. This presents the paradigm between the political subjects and political regimes in which regimes build and demolish landscapes that directly affect society’s perception of a city. Such a cycle of construction and destruction both figuratively and metaphorically represent large portions of Roman history. Smith suggests cultures form an understanding of authority through places of ruins of built environments that they then implement in the modern times. This may have adverse effects such as how the Fascists attempted to transform the view of Rome as the root of political stagnation into an equally progressive and conservative society.

In order to effectively comprehend this juxtaposition in views we must start with the concept of a landscape. Smith describes it as the “totality of the external world as mediated through subjective human experiences,”1 suggesting a layering of the land, what humans build both physically and figuratively, and how that evolves to shape human activity. We set in place rules such as laws and construction such as roads that determine human interaction and perception of the built environment. When the Fascists rose to power and attempted to control this cause and effect they showcased destruction and reconstruction with Fascist architecture that showed the young radical power as steadfast and inured to the corrupt cultural influences of the capital. This was done in stages at numerous sites and most prominently seen along the Via dell’Impero around the Imperial Fora. Stage one in 1873, 1883, and 1909 called diradamento focused on preserving the urban fabric while also excavating the ruins. Stage two in 1925-1926 called sventramento was a more radical total demolition of neighborhoods displacing thousands to make way for Mussolini’s grand tributes to the Emperor Augustus to solidify his political authority through archeological propaganda.2 This further developed at the Mausoleum of Augustus which was to be resurrected for the 2000th anniversary of Augustus with the inclusion of the Ara Pacis monument to the west. The architect Enrico Del Debbio stated he “envisioned the mausoleum as an object in space to be viewed by spectators from particular points.”3 This approach set a perfect precedent for how politicians sculpted the built environment to their choosing and the desired outcome of perception of an area. The work also included such political propaganda as the Fascist buildings constructed and the excavation of the monument showing how politics influences the landscape.

Other metaphorical representations of political authority are discussed in Smith’s article when referencing Andy Warhol’s silk screens of the electric chair at Sing Sing prison.4 These images depicted the “physical sacrifice of political subjects”5 and bring to mind other cultures throughout history. These people’s lives are controlled by political agendas and calculated perceptions created for them through their built environment. Smith’s comparisons between the death pits of Ur and the electric chair illustrate a harsh reality of the less nostalgic histories of the world.

Though these endeavors led to the excavation of many ancient monuments in Rome and still evident urban characteristics, the application of archeological concerns to modern life may not align evenly. In attempting to capture sites frozen in time politics shape the built environment in positive and negative forms that are not always best for the common good.

1 Smith, Adam T. The Political Landscape: Constellations of Authority in Early Complex Politics, University of California Press.

2  Pilat, Stephanie. “La Parola al Piccone: Demonstrations of Fascism at the Imperial Fora and the Mausoleum of Augustus” in Jelena Bogdanavic and Jessica Christie, editors, The Political Landscapes of Capital Cities (University of Colorado Press, forthcoming).

3  Pilat, “La Parola al Piccone.”

4 Smith, The Political Landscape.

5 Smith, The Political Landscape.



                Last Thursday, the Sooners in Rome were lucky enough to go on a visit to Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum, a display of both brilliant contemporary architecture, and the amazing modern art held inside.  Upon arrival we were able to wander around the outside to inspect and sketch the organic forms of concrete that make up a large portion of the different facades of the building.  Once everyone was together as we prepared to enter the building, we received a short lecture from one of our professors (Scott Schlimgen) on the design and construction process, which used many new technologies in order to display Hadid’s idea for the 21st century art museum (hint the name MAXXI, Modern Art of the XXI century).

As we entered the museum, we immediately realized that the interior might be just as impressive as the dynamic exterior.  The open lobby space displayed many interesting details to it, including transparent stairways, and long sections of skylights flowing along the tube-like concrete spaces. After another period of time looking all around the lobby while our teachers grabbed the tickets, we were set loose to explore the many galleries on display.

One of the main reasons that we traveled to the MAXXI besides the building itself, was the display of some of Le Corbusier’s architectural work.  This exhibition was placed just around the corner on the first floor gallery (where most of the class went first).  To avoid traffic and blaze our own trail, Nathan Harwell and I decided to go see some of the more abstract art first to open up our minds to something other than architecture.  After wandering up some stairs and traveling down a hallway or two we found ourselves at the first gallery we could find.  First was a mixture of woven tapestries with English and Arabic on them that were very impressive but a bit vague on the descriptions. The next room we stumbled into was a very cool experience because of the dynamic textures.  The walls were all covered in metal panels seeming to emulate tree bark; however, the interesting part about the room was that the wooden floor had similar grooves cut into it, meant to relate your sense of touch to your sense of sight. After a few more galleries we found our way to the architectural model display where we spent much more time exploring because of our obvious ability to relate to it.

Most of the models were extremely impressive, showcasing many different kinds of methods, materials, and conceptual ideas.  Once we had inspected much of the large display we began to run into a lot of our classmates who were moving in the opposite direction through the room than us.  Small talk was exchanged about opinions and questions of the models, but most everyone had their eyes on the displays and moved silently through the gallery.

Finally, Nathan and I got to the stairs at the end of the hallway to take us down to the Le Corbusier exhibition.  Although we both thought the displaying method was very strange, made up of a crude wooden paneling system of partitions, the drawings were amazing.  Corbusier’s sketching and diagramming were some of the most informative and beautiful drawings I have seen.  In person you are able to really look at not only one drawing at a time, but the progression and evolution of the pieces similar to a timeline. As we slowly came to the end of Corbusier’s drawing, there came in the opposite direction a massive tour group with a little lady leading them and yelling in Italian, at which point we decided that the massive black plastic horn outside the exhibition seemed more interesting.  The horn did not work, and we were not supposed to touch it, as we were quickly informed, but we did find some truly exquisite chairs designed by Corbusier to end that part of our journey through the MAXXI.

From Rome to Firenze: Kymber Kincanon’s Interview


Interviewer: Ana Hernandez

How would you describe Roman fashion compared to Florentine fashion?

Kymber: Firenze was more touristy and young, so I saw a lot more variety of style. As for in Rome, everyone wears those puffy jackets, so I don’t really know what their style is actually like.

What do you prefer in regards to Roman fashion vs. Florentine or even ours back home (America)?

Kymber : Firenze was less expensive, but they didn’t have entire districts devoted to shopping like Rome’s Via del Corso ect. For a college kid on a budget, Firenze was better, but when I get rich and famous, I’ll do my shopping in ROME.

Did you shop in Firenze? If so where?

Kymber: Of course, H&M, Zara, and a thousand different shoe stores before I found the perfect pair.!

Do you like Firenze more than you like Rome?

Kymber: Yep! I like Florence better for the good prices, and the style was younger! It suited my tastes better.

What do you like best about the fashion in Rome?

Kymber: Everyone seems to be really well dressed beneath those enormous winter coats. It’s seemed a little more relaxed in Florence. Rome just makes you want to be FABULOUS!

Via del Corso

A brisk morning stroll down the Corso makes for a pleasant way to begin ones day. Running north and south from Piazzo del Popolo to the base of the Capitoline Hill, respectively, the Via del Corso forms a perfect axial relationship between two of the city’s key features in the heart of Rome. The Corso is typically a major tourist destination due to the abundance of shopping and hotels in combination with its close proximity to, more or less, all of the primary points of interests in Rome.  Despite the crowds that fill its sidewalks throughout the day, the Corso makes for an excellent place to walk around to get yourself a coffee and enjoy the morning before all of the stores open and the tourists awaken from their jetlag slumber.  Although the street is still busy in the morning with people getting to work and opening their shops the street does not feel crowded because of the large width of the street and sidewalks, especially compared to the typical Roman street. Due to the high number of pedestrians and endless locations to shop the north section of the road is closed to vehicular traffic. Shopping is not the only thing the Corso has to offer. Various churches line the road for those who live and work in the area, Palazzo Doria Pamphilj provides a quiet area with gallery space to escape from the hustle and bustle of the street. Galleria Alberto Sordi sits across the street from the column of Marcus Aurelius and is a shopping arcade constructed in the Art Nouveau style. Also, if you want to pay the Italian president a visit, he lives in the same piazza as the column. The Via del Corso gives you an excellent opportunity to spend both time and money in the city center to Rome.



Past vs. Present: Ara Pacis Museum and the Mausoleum of Augustus

Past vs. Present: The Ara Pacis and Mausoleum of Augustsus

Rome has a history spanning well over 2,000 years. Kings, emperors, popes, prime ministers, and dictators alike have all laid claim to the  Eternal City and the Campo Marzio, the “Field of Mars” in English, is the epitome of this varied timeline. Campo Marzio comprises the northern-most part of central Rome and includes monuments such as the Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps. Campo Marzio is the oldest continuously inhabited part of Rome. As such, Campo Marzio has a very representative cross-section of the city’s history within its borders: obelisks that were built by Egyptian pharaohs and brought to Rome by conquering emperors, Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance churches, ancient Roman ruins, towering fascist building developments, and even a museum built by American architect Richard Meier.

The area that’s the focus of this post is the area surrounding the Mausoleum of Augustus, which is near the southernmost border of Campo Marzio. The Mausoleum itself was built in 28 B.C. by Emporer Augustus as a reaction to Marc Antony’s recent decision to be buried in Egypt when he died. The people of Rome took this as an insult and, to prove himself a more loyal Roman than Antony, Augustus had his mausoleum built when he became Emperor to show his intentions. In truth, it functioned as a propaganda tool much like the buildings that surround it in modernity functioned during the reign of Benito Mussolini. The buildings and piazza that surround the Mausoleum were designed by Vittorio Ballio Morpurgo in the 1930s along with a museum that housed another ancient Roman propaganda tool, the Ara Pacis Augustae.

The Ara Pacis was commissioned by the Roman Senate in 9 B.C. to commemorate the beginning of the Pax Romana, which was a period of peace brought about by the preemptive wars of Emperor Augusts. The monument itself was lost when the Roman Empire collapsed and maintenance on Roman monuments was abandoned. Over successive years of flooding, the Ara Pacis was slowly covered in silt and left to ruin. Pieces of the Ara Pacis began to be discovered as early as the 16th century, but the monument was not restored in its entirety until Mussolini mounted a dig to recover the majority of the fragments. Utilizing a technique that involved using liquid nitrogen in hollow steel pipes to freeze the soil and thus allow digging underneath a building that would have otherwise been unstable, Mussolini was able to resurrect the monument in time for the 2000th birthday of Augustus in 1937. After its reconstruction, Mussolini had Mopurgo design a museum to house the Ara Pacis. This museum was constructed in just under four months using the cheapest materials and quickest methods possible in order for it to open in time and, as such, after only a few decades, was in a terrible state of disrepair. The then-mayor of Rome hired Richard Meier to design a new cover building and museum for the Ara Pacis, which opened in 2006 to much controversy.

The site itself is an interesting one that spans over two millennia of history. The current museum is a redesign of a seventy-year-old piece of fascist propaganda that contains a piece of Imperial Roman propaganda that was used by the fascists to pretend to the power of Imperial Rome. The museum itself is surrounded by buildings that are bedecked in fascist propaganda, saying things along the lines of “It is always springtime for the strong people of Italy.” and all of these face the Mausoleum of Augustus, which is a propagandistic appeasement ploy even older than the Ara Pacis itself. It’s amazing to see how although the historical figures that shaped this area may have spoken different languages, worn different clothes, and were called by various different titles and styles, their purposes and goals were the same: to be in power. Areas like this are frequent throughout the city of Rome and serve as a reminder of what people will do to realize their will and how they often use the built environment to help them do so. Future blog posts will detail more of these sites and show the ways in which modernity and antiquity collide and intermingle in the Eternal City.