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Berlin Profile: Christina Dadona

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Why did you decide to attend School of Architecture at Northeastern?

For me, deciding where to go to college was one of the most important and one of the most difficult decisions to make.  I wanted it to be perfect and it seemed impossible to find that.  Northeastern was everything I wanted in a school.  The location is exceptional, especially for an aspiring architect.  Boston is an amazing city with so much history.  The juxtaposition of the new and the old is one of my favorite aspects.  In Boston, everything is at our fingertips.  There is an overwhelming amount of history to appreciate and inspire you. The School of Architecture emphasizes this through our class field trips and by having us write site analysis on buildings in the city.  The classroom experience is intertwined with that of the real world.  Unlike some architecture schools, which tend to lean towards either an artistic or technical approach, Northeastern offers the perfect combination of both.

What has been the best part about being in Berlin?

Berlin is an incredible city.  It’s not beautiful, it’s not perfect, it’s not romantic, but rather, it is real and I fell in love with it.  Its history is incredibly dense yet I found the city more intriguing once I understood more about its past.  Being able to visit different sites and buildings as I was learning about them was the best part of studying in Berlin.  I was completely submerged in the city and I never wanted to leave.  The scars of the war were evident as well the triumph of reunification.  The fire stains and traces of explosions add to the city’s unique beauty, and tell a powerful story of their struggles. Buildings are still covered in black from the fires and in some places, traces of bombs can be found.  West Berlin architecture is clearly defined from East Berlin architecture; however, you begin to see them compliment one another as they bleed together.  Traces of the wall are all over the city, along with memorials and museums dedicated to the struggle of a once divided city.  Fragments of the physical wall remain, some with graffiti and some preserved.  Two rows of cobblestones mark where the demolished pieces of the wall once stood.  This reunited city is so fresh and I can’t wait to go back. I look forward to seeing what other beautiful changes happen in the future.

What was studio like and how was it different from Ruggles?

Although the studio environment in Ruggles can be frenetic, I love that studio.  It has its own character; it’s my home.  Working in a new environment was definitely an interesting experience. The studio in Berlin is an open room, which allowed for greater communication within the group.  It was great because we always bounced ideas off one another and we all became extremely close.  Even though it was frustrating to get used to the idea that studio closed at ten as opposed to the 24-hour access we were used to, it was a nice change of pace. It forced us to leave.  Instead of getting lost in our work we got lost in Berlin.

Did you travel in or outside of Berlin? What were some places you went? Were you surprised by any of the things you saw? What was your favorite place and why?

I went to seventeen cities in total.  Every place was beautiful in its own way.  The school trips were awesome because we went to cities that I had never heard of.  I would have never climbed that stair roller coaster in Duisburg, which was terrifying but simultaneously exhilarating.  I went to Paris and climbed the top of the Eiffel Tower, literally took the stairs.  I saw a Gustav Klimt exhibit in Vienna, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, went to Oktoberfest in Munich, touched the Dancing House by Gehry in Prague, and shopped at flea markets in Budapest. I have so many amazing memories that picking a favorite one isn’t possible.

How do you think your experience abroad will influence you when you are back in the studio?

I think in studio I’ll try different things and take more risks.  I want to grab influence not only from various architects but various cultures and ways of thinking.  Berliners are different from Americans, Europeans are different from Americans but neither is a wrong way of living or thinking. It’s merely different.  It really does broaden your perspective and opens your mind to other ideas.  Living in Berlin for four months taught me more about myself than I have learned in the past twenty years.  The world is such a beautiful place and I am incredibly thankful that this opportunity was given to me.