Friday, August 2, 2013

That's a wrap!

As this adventure draws to a close, I take a moment to a) breathe and b) reflect on this weeks experiences...

Every meal was better than the last, only to be topped by the daily consumption of gelato. Meals ranged from heavy dishes of wild boar with dumplings to delicious sandwiches from the corner panineria.
Presentations and company visits provided great insight to the Czech culture and the challenges / accomplishments of promoting business on an international level. Cultural excursions allowed us to soak in the rich history that the Czech people take so much pride in; as well as relax with good wine and friends while floating down the Vltava River.

But being the "archi-snob" that I am, I need to comment on the rich architecture that we had the privilege to behold. Prague escaped significant damage during WWII and the city's medieval roots could be seen all throughout the city. St. George's Basilica, with its red and cream facade, displayed arched openings and piers reminiscent of the Romanesque period; one of the oldest architectural periods found in Prague. Nearby, St. Vitus Cathedral was the most awe-some example of gothic architecture with its pointed arched openings, expanses of natural light, and emphasis on verticality - not to mention is extensive ornamentation!!!!

Yet, while we pursued the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, we still witnessed modern buildings displaying characteristics of Functionalism as well as some very innovative designs. Many office buildings and social housing still reflect the plain facades and boxy designs built during Communism. From previous research, Functionalism was almost the exclusive style of architecture from the 1940s to the 1970s. It included styles such as Stalinist architecture and was formulated by a "club" of Architects during that time. The Czech society seems to be getting on board with the whole green movements as wells. It was great to see solar panels on several buildings as well as green roofs. During our ride through the countryside there were even solar panel "farms" - rows upon rows of large solar panels! New office buildings (and the brewery!!) also incorporate "living facades" on their buildings which involve extending the footprint of the building to include a "greenhouse" with climbing plants.

Well, I need to wrap up this blog... As many of my cohorts know, it was my goal to see Frank Gehry's "Dancing House" and I mean to see it through. The Deconstructivist style building was completed in 1996 and resembles a pair of dancers (Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are often referenced to). The construction and design stirred quite the controversy as it is surrounded by typical Prague architecture. Also, the site was once the location of a house that was destroyed in a U.S. bombing of Prague in the mid-40s.

Until the next adventure... good night!

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