The studio abroad program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design offers advanced students the opportunity for intense interaction with renowned part-time faculty in a setting near or in their design firms. Visit us:

Week 2 -

Over the course of the semester, different members of the group will be offering their photos and insights for the blog, so you’ll have a rotating perspective each week. This week we’ll be hearing and seeing about the Basel Studio Abroad from the perspective of Carly Gertler. 

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imageThe Graduation ceremony in Gund’s backyard

This is the Last LA Post, but perhaps the most joyous. The majority of our studio graduated this year and they all deserve a shout out.

Hope Hardesty
Kangil Ji
Karina Contreras
Karol Malik
Mikaela Spielman-Pearson
Tianci Han
Yong Tang


Landscape Tour and Farewell Party

imageA view in LA’s Natural History Museum gardens by Mia Lehrer+Associates

Mia Lehrer and Margot Jacobs curated a day of tours topped off with a party overlooking downtown from the new Vista Hermosa Park by MLA.


We began at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles for a tour of the recently opened campus that has become an urban destination for outdoor exhibits. Michelle Sullivan, Principal of ML+A, gave us a tour of the various gardens of local flora and fauna. More here: Natural History

imageOn the way to Calvin Abe’s office.

Before the day was over we visited a series of offices including SWA, Ahbe Landscape Architects, and Rios Clementi Hale Studios. Each office was unique and it was enlightening to see the variety of office work and culture in the span of one day.

imageThe crew exploring Mia’s Vista Hermosa Park. Downtown LA serves as a frequent anchor to your place in the city as you wander. Find out more here: Vista Hermosa

We finished the day at the Vista Hermosa Park completed in 2008 and the first park built in the area in over 100 years. It’s not easy to build beautiful open and green spaces in Los Angeles and for that we are extremely grateful to Mia Lehrer. Mia is a true advocate for LA as well as being an incredible designer. We look forward to what becomes of the LA river in the future and we can be sure that Mia makes sure it exceeds expectations.

imageTianci Han learned to drive a car and walk a dog while in Los Angeles, thus completing his course in Becoming American. Hopefully, he and our other brilliant international students stick around!

The party was great including the special lemonade and delicious Armenian food. We thank everyone involved and hope to see you all again soon.

imageAw shucks

We love you LA…

Post and photos by David J Pearson

Downtown Architecture Tour of MMA Work

Tianci Han looks up into the New Carver Apartments by Michael Maltzan Architecture

Jen Lathrop of MMA gave us a great tour of 2 of MMA’s best known projects. We began the day at the New Carver Apartments adjacent to the 10 freeway in downtown Los Angeles. We glimpsed inside not only a piece of progressive architecture but of rehabilitation for the less fortunate of Skid Row in Los Angeles.

imageAnd then looking down

imageHope Hardesty basks in the California sunshine. 90°+ day

imageFind out more here: New Carver Apartments

After Carver we headed to the Inner City Arts building, Michael’s first groundbreaking project. The Inner City Arts is a one acre campus in Skid Row that provides education in the arts for over 10,000 at-risk youth.

imageInside one of the art studios

imageFind out more here: Inner City Arts

And then on to the nearly finished Star Apartments, a 95,000 square foot mixed-use multi story complex for the homeless. The block takes on a strong presence in contrast to the typical association for transitional housing. It clearly states an agenda that protects and further advocates for the homeless in light of the downtown police station across the street.

imageFind out more here: Star Apartments

The semester took us throughout LA and southern California, even into Tijuana. Every project we visited offered unique approaches to building in a city that demands architecture as an urban production. In a city of dispersion and individual competing American, dreams architecture is often the best and the last avenue for instilling a sense of the civic. And if it doesn’t we always have the freeways.

Post and photos by David J Pearson

Final Review

Our final review was held in the office and included prominent architects, landscape architects, thinkers, and educators from LA, greater California, and beyond. Special thanks to all the jurors-there were too many to name!

imageMichael warms up the jury as Mikaela Spielman-Pearson and David Pearson wait to kick off the presentations. Craig Hodgetts and Michael Lehrer near front.
Photo: Kangil Ji

imageChris Reed, Associate Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at the GSD comments on the project of Kangil Ji, Karol Malik, and Tianci Han titled Little Los Angeles. Seminar professor Alison Hirsch at left.
Photo: David J Pearson

imageYong Tang and Karina Contreras present their proposal for a flexibly programmed disaster center.
Photo: Kangil Ji

imageChristina Yang at left and Hope Hardesty present their project el Valle, speculating on the secession of the Valley from the City of Los Angeles.
Photo: Kangil Ji

imageGroup Photo!

Each project speculated on a near future LA, igniting vibrant conversations among the jury. The semester was a success and we are all grateful for the immersive experience of LA.

Special special thanks to Michael, Mia, Andrew, Margot and the GSD for the opportunity.

Post by David J Pearson

Pittman Dowell Residence Visit

The final review and graduation brings these posts a little late, but nevertheless look forward to more posts from our time in LA.

Two days before final review we were lured out of studio for a project visit of the Pittman Dowell Residence by Michael Maltzan Architecture. Despite the timing we couldn’t resist a guided tour by Michael and artist Roy Dowell plus cookies and drinks.


The house sits on a site shared with a mid century Richard Neutra home and a fabulous garden designed and cared for by artists and owners Roy Dowell and Lari Pittman.

imageAndrew and Roy enter the garden. Roy and Lari’s garden sits in an arroyo not far from the home.image


imageThe Residence Appears

Mirrored Scallop

imageTrimmed Cylinder

Each facade including the fifth is not only masterfully composed but sophisticates the interior’s centripetal notion of space and direction. As a 7 sided form no two walls are parallel. While the walls create the feeling of a continuously connected interior the courtyard and facades reinforce a relaxing centrality.

imageViews from the Courtyard

imageThe Mountains of La Crescenta BeyondimageRising around up the driveway to the Neutra House you begin to see the fifth facade.

imageThe Fifth

imageThe Crew Gazing

The visit was a great opportunity to get out of studio for a couple hours and recharge for the final push.

Special thanks to Michael and especially to Roy Dowell and Lari Pittman for welcoming us to their home.

Post and Photos by David J Pearson

Jesus Christ, LA is like a Montessori town, everyone is doing whatever they want.
Rem Koolhaas to Rene Daalder comparing their Montessori education in Amsterdam to the culture of Los Angeles.

Private Screening of Leaning Towers about Rem Koolhaas

We were fortunate to have filmmaker Rene Daalder screen his upcoming documentary on Rem Koolhaas. Rene is a friend of Koolhaas’ since childhood. The two of them worked on films together after high school including the Divine Slave, a feature film which will be released soon.

The documentary offers an intimate glimpse into the architect and thinker who is already legendary. Good documentaries on architects are hard to come by, but this one is sure to be a hit.

*There is no confirmed release date yet but be sure to check it out when it comes out.

There are few truly great educators in the world; but there are truly great students, that is not the problem.
In conversation with Rene Daalder