Chicago Union Station

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One of the building that has influenced me in a positive way is the Chicago Union Train Station in Chicago Illinois. I chose this building because it’s where I rode on a train for the first time. I went with my grandparents, who were attending a conference.  I was extremely excited when I saw it because I had never seen so many tall columns and such a beautiful marble floor. I felt like I was on adventure, mainly because I was only 8 at the time, but I know that the design of the building greatly helped emphasize the feeling. What affected me the most about the building was the row of columns on the outside and inside. I had never seen so many columns up close before and the ceiling lights only made everything more stunning. The building seemed very important to me because I thought, at the time, columns were reserved only for important buildings. The Union station itself represents order while capturing the imagination.

The Lodge Camp MacLean – Burlington, WI

1450825_644811828894395_1985488879_nCamp can either be a blast or a total disaster. For me, camp was an absolute blast and the time of my life. I went as often and for as long as my parents would let me. The Great Lodge was the heart of the camp. It mainly serves as a cafeteria but is also used for many other activities and gatherings.


When it rained, we would pack up anything weird we could fit in a sleeping bag and brought it to the lodge to play Dutch auction (a truly fun and creative game if you have never played before). The older groups would have a dance in the lodge and have a blast goofing off together. Camp activities were mostly outdoors, but there were times that the weather didn’t cooperate like we would have hoped. So, activities would be planned indoors which were usually held in the lodge.

DSCN6677 Camp MacLean dining hall

Every time we filed in for a meal, we would stick two finger in the stone where two little finger holes were for good luck. The lodge itself created a cozy camp vibe that made everything seem warm and inviting. Especially during winter camp where we could finally defrost from the cold. The building holds many memories for me and I hope to see it again one day.


Lake Forest High School – Lake Forest, IL


I have very mixed feelings about high school as I’m sure many of us do. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to go to my high school. It is highly ranked and very competitive in most everything for a public school. The building itself is undoubtedly beautiful and full of top of the line technologies and innovations.


Over the years, my high school has undergone multiple renovations. One of which was completed just before I graduated middle school. One of the most obtrusive attributes of this remodel is what we called “the cube” or “the apple store”. It was apparently the “only way” to connect the styles that were already built.


From the inside, the addition is stunning but the outside is a whole different can of worms. Many pictures on google crop the new edition out. The addition served to create a safer, easier way to move around the school (in response to the Columbine shootings and others like it). It is used as a senior study hall and lunch commons.


The renovations included changing the old cafeteria into a two story library which is equally as stunning as the rest of the renovations. Even though I’d like to hide the new editions from the outside, they were well worth the design and upgrades on the inside.


East Lake Forest Train Station – Lake Forest, IL


The train system in Chicago is something that I took for granted growing up. Every day, my dad takes the train back and forth into the city. My dad is an electrical engineer. When I was younger, I thought that he was a train engineer because he took the train to work every day.


I never took notice of the train station until bringing a friend home with me from school. She was so amazed at the detail and thought that went into this building. I have spent a good amount of time sitting in the waiting room or waiting on the platform waiting for the train to take me into the city. The voice of the man on the intercom saying “Metra commuter, your attention please. The next in/outbound train will be arriving in your station in approximately (usually three) minutes.” It is a lot easier to take a day trip when you don’t have to worry about parking or paying for gas.


There is a barber shop and a shoe shine station inside of the train station that fits perfectly into the feeling of the train station. Although I have never used either service myself, the people watching is phenomenal.



Lake Forest Library – Lake Forest, IL


I was very fortunate growing up to have such an amazing library just a 15 minute walk from my house. With a huge children’s section with books, movies, games and even stuffed animals to check out.


As I grew older, I needed a place to study out of the house. My favorite place to go was to one of the many tiny nooks in the library. They offered privacy – to conceal the horrible sappy romance novel covers or to get away from almost all noise.


My favorite time to go to the library was when it was raining. The third floor of the library has a huge skylight that makes the most wonderful noise when it rains.


The building itself is well thought out and beautifully designed. The interior is luxurious and with fireplaces all over the place, it is a great place to warm up during the long winter months in Chicago.


Rainbow Row – Charleston, SC


Charleston, SC is a place that I have loved since I was little. The food, the people and of course, the ocean. This past summer, I had the opportunity to go back there with my family for vacation before coming back to Norman for summer school. While I was there, I fell in love again with everything I laid my eyes.


There was one place in particular that stood out to me as the image of Charleston. It is Rainbow Row. Rainbow Row is, you guessed it, a row of houses. But unlike most houses, they are painted in all different shades of the rainbow. Usually your neighbors might scoff at you and give you dirty looks if you decided to paint your house bright pink. But here, the brighter the color, the better.


Coming from Chicago where people won’t even give you the time of day let alone look at you, I am not used to the friendliness – even if it is fake. Charleston was a place where strangers smile and say hello and everyone seems to be happy. This row of houses would look happy even on the gloomiest days. That is why I think they embody the personality of Charleston.


Market Square – Lake Forest, IL


The first building that came to mind isn’t exactly what most people would consider a building. I chose Lake Forest’s Market Square. It is known as the first planned shopping center in the US. But that isn’t why I chose to write about it. Market Square is the central hub of my town. I remember always sneaking into William-Sonoma to snag a few samples and asking for everything I saw in the toy store. Now, my mom and I frequent the makeup store, Blue Mercury, and indulge in the new frozen yogurt shop that my friend’s mom recently opened.


Many of my childhood memories are in Markey Square, at the many events held there throughout the year.


In the summer, there are concerts every Thursday on the lawn where parents drink wine and kids run/bike/skate around playing with their friends.




There is an event for Veteran’s Day where we can remember those we lost and thank those who returned home.


One of my favorite events is the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. The high school choir sings, there is free hot chocolate/apple cider and roasted chestnuts from the local businesses. The whole town (those who are willing to go out in the sub-zero temperatures) gathers around this massive tree and counts down the seconds until the lights turn on.



My love of this little place isn’t just from the memories I made in it, but also the beauty of it. There really is nothing like it. Coming to school in Oklahoma was not only a culture shock, but a landscape shock. I’m always surprised when I go home of how green the grass is, or how colorful the fall leaves are. Sometimes, it is the building itself that is beautiful. But other times, it is the things that surround it and the memories it holds.


Palace of Westminster and Elizabeth Tower


My favorite building of all time is the Palace of Westminster in London, England, and more specifically Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben). I don’t know what it was about it that struck me, but when I first saw it I had no words. When I visited London this summer, the first view I got of it was from the London Eye. I then immediately had to go take 800 pictures of it, without even realizing every picture was the exact same. I think what maybe stuck out to me the most was the Gothic revival architecture that I had never seen before. The way the arches, columns, and lines fit together, looking so detailed but simple at the same time, really impressed me. And maybe it was just seeing a piece of architecture that is the iconic symbol of a place I had always wanted to visit.



It also may have been the way it stuck out on the skyline and among all the buildings around it. Aside from the Westminster Abbey next door, none of the buildings in the immediate area really stood out to me. It was amazing to me how long this structure has been standing, and how much history happened within its walls. Elizabeth Tower and the Palace of Westminster have existed through world wars (although they were reconstructed after bombings in World War II), drastic leadership and government changes, and much more. A final idea is that the history of the outside of the building was as close as I was going to get to the history of the inside, and that may be why it stood out. Either way, I don’t see any other building taking over as my favorite anytime soon. a43792be25e33138c120cbf7a74be9d93b0d0edf

Earth Lodge

Another meaningful piece of architecture to me is the Earth Lodge that is located within the Ocmulgee National Monument Park in Macon, Georgia (where I am originally from).


When I was a child, we would visit the park either through the school or personally about once a year. When you leave the museum and walk up the trail to the actual sites, it is always an amazing view.


Believed to be a council chamber, it had what is believed to be a political and religious significance. The tribe that occupied the area was the Creek’s. They are now located in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.


The above ground components were destroyed and reconstructed, but the original floor has been carbon dated to approximately 1,000 AD.


The interior consisted of 4 huge main posts with log rafters that created a cone shape which was then covered by dirt and the inside walls plastered with a daub and wattle type construction.



As a fun, non-architectural side note, there is some archaeoastronomy associated with the site. The entrance axis is located East-West but the opening does NOT correspond with any of the equinoxes. There is speculation that they do line up with a particular meteor shower called the Taurid.


Raley Chapel

No matter what direction you drive into Shawnee, Oklahoma from you are probably going to see an object rise above the rest. That object just so happens to be the steeple of Raley Chapel. Raley Chapel was constructed in 1961 and is a staple of Oklahoma Baptist’s campus. Prior to attending OU I spent three semesters at OBU. Raley is the building on campus where concerts, talent shows, orientations and obviously weekly chapels are held. The chapel was built to honor Jraley 1ohn Wesley Raley who at one point served as the president and chancellor at OBU. To music majors this building is their home for the four (or maybe five) years they attend OBU. To athletes this is the building you pass at 4:45 am when you are making the walk across campus for 5 am workouts. To the rest of campus it is the building you go to on some Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout undergraduate to get 96 chapel credits in order to graduate. Besides being a music major all of the above applied to me while I was at OBU, but also Raley felt like home. It was a comfortable safe haven in the midst of a huge life change for me. Every aspect about the building is just welcoming: the hugeraley 2, beautiful stain-glass windows, the gigantic columns in the front, the steps ushering you through the front doors. Raley was also the place where my parents prayed over me and then drove off and left me so I could start my own journey. It was the very first place I was truly left to be my on own. But in my freshman year at OBU and the fall semester of my sophomore year I grew more in all aspects and a lot of that growing took place under the roof of Raley Chapel. I was called to missions in that building. I cried tears of joy and sadness there. It is just a home away from home. I will never get tired of snapping pictures of Raley araley 3nd putting them on social media with the hashtag #dailyraley just all the other OBU students.