Post 1

The door to Norman Regional, off of Porter, is a little to familiar to me. I have walked up to that door for more than a year and a half. My grandmother was diagnosed with pneumonia and a few other medical problems. After she was diagnosed she was put into a medical coma so her body would be able to heal itself and rest because of her age. I remember walking up to the door and talking a deep breath before walking through the revolving doors, and the pungent smell of bleach and cleaner smacked me in the face. After a while it got normal to see this building and walk through the revolving doors. After a while i got use to the revolving door that sometimes i would go around twice just to make the journey a little fun, but after my grandmother past i would be completely fine never walking that circle again.

Post 8: Mary Vu: Kolumba Museum

The Kolumba Museum is in Germany and keeps remnants of Roman Catholic art (Cilento).  What is most interesting is that Zumthor used the foundations of a church that was almost destroyed in World War II (Cilento). He did this to memorialize the actual history not only with the remnants on the inside but also on the outside. Because he wanted to keep parts of the old building, the creation was a mix between modern, simple design of Zumhor and the more traditional, busy design of the past. When looking at pictures, it seems what could be saved from the old building was, and new construction was added where it was needed and to support the dilapidation of the old building.

I have never seen a building with so much contrast in the style. It was fascinating seeing what Zumthor could preserve and how he built around it. The building reminds me that it is important to save the past, but we also have to build on that tradition to make something functional even if it may be very different. The mix of traditional and modern make the building unique and interesting. Zumthor’s design style is still very distinctive in that he includes mostly geometric shapes and does not add anything unnecessary. The exhibits are pretty plain, but that brings all the attention to what is displayed. This piece of architecture proves that the new can work with the old, and just because it is broken does not mean it cannot have new life.

Cilento, Karen. (2010, August 6). Kolumba Museum / Peter Zumthor. Retrieved from 

Post 7: Mary Vu: Steilneset Memorial

Although Zumthor collaborated with Bourgeois to create the Steilneset Memorial, Zumthor’s distinctive design characteristics are present. The memorial has a very simple and straightforward design. A large structure is held in repeating beams that seem to support the whole structure. It is extremely long and is a strange mix of shapes. The beams create a tall X shape while what looks like to be a gigantic arrow piercing through the X’s. The structure also has a simple roof over it. The design of the memorial inside also follows a very simple design. The walls are black and there are long wooden panels for the floor. Naked light bulbs hang to shine out the small windows and are paired with a story.

When I first saw the Steilneset Memorial, I thought it would be a building for the water since it is located near rocks of the coast. Then I realized it was a memorial and guessed it was a memorial for the navy or hurricane, but it memorializes the Finnmark Witchcraft Trials and those that were killed (Rosenfield). Although this part of history is tragic, the location of the memorial makes it seem very serene and peaceful because of the water. The narrow and long form the building takes makes it interesting looking and also affects how people have to walk inside it. I love the idea of having a light represent those who were persecuted shine to the outside world through a window. By creating such an interesting building, Zumthor has drawn attention and awareness to part of Norway’s history.

Rosenfield, Karissa. (2012, March 1). Steilneset Memorial / Peter Zumthor and Louise Bourgeois, photographed by Andrew Meredith. Retrieved from 

Post 6: Mary Vu: The Therme Vals

The Therme Vals are located in Switzerland and was built in 1996 ( This thermal spring was designed in Zumthor fashion with the geometric accents and symmetry. The design of the structure and rooms are simple yet elegant. Inspiration of this spa originated from the caves surrounding it ( Zumthor wanted to take the peace of the mountains and bring it into the spa so the spa seems like it was cut out of the mountain ( Zumthor also played with light in the Therme Vals. Windows were installed where he thought light should show through, walls where put up where he wanted to block light, and added light fixtures to control where the light would be in the building.

Just looking at pictures of the Therme Vals relaxes me. The clean and simple design Zumthor created show how everything was well thought out before construction. The play of light and colors it gives off creates a different mood. I love how he has inputted qualities of nature into the spa to reconnect visitors back to the mountains and water. The objective of a spa is to provide a relaxing space, and I believe with Zumthor’s design, he has created that space through his own imagination and his desire to connect others back to nature. (2009, February 11). The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor. Retrieved from 

Post 5: Mary Vu: Bruder Klaus Field Chapel

The Bruder Klause Field Chapel was built in 2007 in Germany (Sveiven). It is a very simple but thought out design. Like many of Peter Zumthor’s creations, the form is extremely geometric. The chapel itself has very distinct, sharp sides. It almost has a rectangular, box shape. The door is also interesting because it is a triangular shape instead of the traditional rectangle. The outside is made of concrete, but the color almost mimics the farmland surrounding it. The interior design is very interesting. Zumthor use 112 tree trunks to create a frame, concreate was poured over to make the shape seen on the exterior, then the trees were burned (Sveiven).

When I first saw a picture of the Bruder Klaus Field Chapel I was immediately interested in it. I enjoy angular and geometrical shapes, and that is what Zumthor plays with. The chapel is an angular, modern looking building in the middle of nowhere it seems like, and I became curious about why it was placed in that location. It was built to honor the patron saint of the regional farmers (Sveiven). The way Zumthor constructed the chapel makes the interior have a unique but beautiful design. The Bruder Klaus Field Chapel sparked curiosity in me and surprised me when learning how it was built.

Sveiven, Megan. (2011, January 26). Bruder Klaus Field Chapel / Peter Zumthor. Retrieved from 

Post 4: Mary Vu: Gamma Phi Beta

The first time I saw the Gamma Phi Beta house was during recruitment in Fall of 2016. The house does not have the big Greek pillars like most Greek houses. It is a white house with wooden accents. When I first saw the house, I was honestly underwhelmed because it did not look as big as the other sorority houses I had visited that day. But when I walked in the space opened up. The décor inside was modern and the design was open which I liked. Knowing how beautiful the house was on the inside made me realize I should not judge a building on how it looks on the outside. The space was used well to make the inside spacious. Even now when I see the front of the house or walk into the house I still appreciate how stunning it is.

The Gamma Phi house is a place for the girls of our sorority to gather whether it be for business or to hang out. It represents unification and support, and I am reminded of this when I see or go into the house. Even from the first time I entered the house I felt the loving and genuine community that called the house a home. Those feelings made me want to be a part of their community. The place looked so welcoming and like a real home compared to the big intimidating pillars of the other houses in my opinion. Even though it doesn’t look like the biggest house or the most beautiful on the outside, it has it’s perks and quirks that make it so special to me.

Post 3: Mary Vu: Catacombs of Paris

The Catacombs of Paris were not what I was expecting them to be. I had seem pictures before and thought it was just one short hallway of bones, but there are hallways and hallways of bones stacked together. The bones were surprisingly neatly stacked on top of each other, and skulls placed next to each other to create a design. After we got our tickets, we were directed to go down a spiral staircase. It took a while to go down and got colder the deeper we went. Before we got to where the bones were, we had to walk through a tunnel which was creepy because I get scared pretty easily. We reached where the bones were and I was astounded by how many bones there were; it felt like they went on for miles.

After getting over how eerie the Catacombs were, I started thinking about the history behind it and the masses of people that were buried under Paris in the Catacombs. The population of Paris was so large that the people started to run out of places to bury the dead. The Catacombs were discovered, but at that time they were just tunnels. There are between six or seven million bodies that have been buried there for over one thousand years. It was shocking to see so many bones and to think that they were once people like you and I. It was also amazing that the tunnels did not cave on themselves after all these years. I would probably not go again because it was pretty creepy, it did remind me that life doesn’t last forever and to make the best with the time we have.

Blog 2: Mary Vu: Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere

Our group visited many churches while in France, but I would have to say my favorite was the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere in Lyon. Seeing the church from afar was already beautiful because of the white stone it is made out of, but as I walked closer, I saw all the very delicate and elegant carvings of designs and statues on the outside. When I walked up the steps, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the intricate carvings on the ceiling above me. Although the outside was just white with grey detailing, the inside was a dazzling gold and blue ceiling which was something I did not expect. The ceilings were so high and were covered with gold and blue detailing.

I am Catholic, so I found the church visits to be very interesting because I have a personal connection with the place. But the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere was something else. I could not imagine going to this church every week; I feel like I would never stop finding something new to gaze at because the paintings on the ceiling and carvings are so marvelously done. The building is a place to worship God, and what better way to worship God than through showing off talent and making something as beautiful has he has. Seeing how gorgeous the church was made me prouder to be Catholic. The experience of being in the church was unexplainable. There was so much to take in, and all I could think was “wow.” Although pictures cannot capture how magnificent the church was on the inside and outside, looking through them still takes my breath away.

Blog 1: Mary Vu: Arc de Triomphe

This June I got the opportunity to visit France on a study abroad trip with OU. Out of all the places we visited, the Arc de Triophe was one my favorites. The Arc towers over a large traffic circle and is near lots of places to shop and eat. Although the structure design is simple, there are intricate carvings and details all over the building. When I first saw the Arc, it struck me as a massive, powerful statement which made it so intriguing to me. My friends and I went up a spiral staircase that seemed to go on forever to get to the top of the Arc. The view was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Seeing the French architecture from the bird’s eye view was breathtaking and seeing how all the streets connected to the traffic circle was stunning.

It was built to honor the French soldiers that fought in the Napoleonic Wars. Being at the Arc was such an experience because of the history surrounding it. It has been standing since the 1800’s and is still in great condition. It was built not only to memorialize the dedicated soldiers of France, but to show the power and unification of the country. When I saw it, I could feel the strength it had through the awe I felt. I find it amazing that the Arc is a simple structure, but can have such a powerful impression on me. Being by it made me feel small, but knowing the history and seeing the mass made me feel like I was experiencing the history.

Blog 8: Jeanne Gang – Solstice on the Park

Solstice on the Park is an upcoming residential building in Chicago. The building is set to be completed later this year, with the bulk of the building already being completed. The building itself is nothing that is new to Studio Gang in terms of design. Large glass walls, seemingly random angles on the walls and roof, tall, residential building are all key components to designs done by Studio Gang, but they never fail to impress me.  The design may have all the same characteristics, but it is done in a way that has never been seen before. The walls are angled down into the floor, which does not seem to be anything other than design at first glance. Studio Gang, however, speaks about the science behind it. During the summer, the sunlight will be directed at the balcony, instead of letting it in directly through the window, while doing the opposite during the winter. This was calibrated using Chicago’s latitude and longitude positioning, and the position of the windows with respect to the direction of the building.  This allows for warm sunlight to come in directly during winter, and harsh sunlight to stay out during the summer. The building was designed to save energy in an innovative and creative way, similar to the goals of newer, sustainable architecture.