Monday May 6th 2014: Representation Workshop Day 1


The Accent Design Center hosted a lecture presented by Jamuna Golden and Mike Gordon around the idea of new design in existing conditions. Seven projects were discussed including two that particularly caught my attention: the Marsupial Bridge in Milwaukee, WI and the tower of David in Venezuela. Both sites were embraced and morphed by the community over time to make them fit their needs and wants.

The Marsupial Bridge spans over train tracks and the Milwaukee river, connecting the downtown and Brady street districts. The original bridge structure was built for trolley use and in the early 1900’s switched to automobiles. Below the x shaped steel supports, a pedestrian bridge was later incorporated to take advantage of the unused space. Popularity of the connection sparked new plaza spaces on either side of the pedestrian bridge, still encompassing the space below the original structure. Benches that light up at night are the main installations of the site and eventually influenced performances and movie screenings to happen on a regular basis. Interest quickly grew and an art installation of tires, whole or half, were hung from the steel rods to be used as swings. The community used the space so much that when it was supposed to be taken down, they fought to keep it longer and won. The adaptive measures taken to continually improve the conditions surrounding the original bridge impressed me the most about the Marsupial Bridge Project.

The tower of David is a skyscraper that was built to house offices, a mall, and financial center. With the Venezuelan financial crash of the 1990’s, the intended use was never realized and construction stopped mid-project. The shell of the building with its unfinished walls and rare windows can be seen throughout the city and has become occupied by squatters as a place to live and work. The scale of this tower makes the city wide problem of high population and scarcity of housing apparent as almost 30 of the 45 floors are full. Services such as a gym, hairdresser, clothing stores, daycare, etc have begun to appear to create a financial structure within the building. A sense of community is built this way, so much that journalists have commented about feeling more secure within the walls than on the streets.

These community run adaptions are examples of new uses in existing spaces. Designing in Istanbul has forced us to take this approach of working with what is already there when thinking about the new. The city is dense of infrastructure and people that will be affected by every single design move we make. I look forward to continue working with these challenges in Istanbul.



I used to be a vegetarian. And then I came to Istanbul. If you’re in Istanbul, you’re probably eating meat at this very moment. And it is undoubtedly delicious and seasoned with a combination of spices you may never quite figure out. If you’re really doing it right, you probably paid less than 10 lira for it. Food that is both cheap and çok lezzetli (very tasty) is every grad student’s dream. Thank you, U of M Landscape Architecture Department, for sending us to this magical place where we can design and never go hangry*.

Having food establishments as landmarks in a city with no street grid has helped us traverse Istanbul’s chaotic landscape. Wayfinding through the city’s many layers of pedestrian and transit space (metro, tunnels, funiculars, oh my!) has become easier with common landmarks and full stomachs. Three of my favorite spots have shaped my experience as well as my cognitive map of Istanbul.


Galata Kitchen

Up the street from Accent (studio) and down the second left, the Kitchen temps me daily with its chicken curry, spinach egg bake, and potato pastries. The inside feels like my Turkish grandmother’s dining room, if my grandmother was Turkish. The place is run by a fluffy orange cat that makes sure everyone joins the clean plate club, sitting either in the chair next to you (if you eat inside) or on the hood of the car parked inches from your table (if you eat on the street). The menu here changes daily, but post-lunch çay is always necessary.

The Pide Place

If this place has a name, none of us know what it is. Down the street from Accent and to the left, this little bread factory is an unassuming pide haven. Pide can really only be described as boat pizza. Step into this small white building, and watch as dough is kneaded into a perfect boat shape (specifically, the sandal boats or caiques Ottomans used to sail across the Bosphorus), topped with meat and cheese, and slid it into a wood-fired oven. Seven lira buys you a mouthful of flavor and a food coma that lasts the rest of the afternoon.


I saved the best for last. Somewhat of a hike from Accent, Dürümzade is hidden behind Istiklal, and one must be able to survive the dozen or so eager restaurant hosts working along the flower passage to get there. It’s worth it. Having a compression-and-release walking experience to find this gem is genius. The tavuk (chicken) durum with a side of çorba (soup) is my perfect meal.

Teşekkürler, Istanbul. You have fed me well.

*(han·gry (adj) \ˈhaŋ-grē\: a state of anger and irritability resulting from being hungry)