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Students take in all of Madrid on study abroad

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Published July 22, 2016

A group of 12 students are immersed in the architectural and cultural landscape of Spain's historic capital of Madrid as part of a new summer study abroad program. Led by Miguel Guitart, a visiting faculty member in architecture who also practices in Madrid, the program combines intense production through seminars and studio, daily "seeing and drawing" tours of the city - and time to savor the city's cultural and culinary assets.

Students are diving into architectural history and design, in situ, through two seminars - one on Modern and Contemporary Spanish Architects and another that sends them around the city to study and draw sites in context. An intensive studio puts their learnings into practice as students create design concepts for a "UB-SUNY Cultural Campus" in Madrid. There has also been a series of weekly lectures by guest academics and practitioners.

Guitart, an educator and practicing architect co-located in Buffalo and Madrid, says the experience has been immersive for all. "[We take] long walks around the city. They discover places and attractions that are relevant in cultural and architectural terms...Of course, walking, landscape seeing, drawing, conversations, and excellent food are all part of the journey. Besides this, students are traveling to cities like Barcelona, Toledo or Seville."

Sites visited outside the city include the area of El Escorial, a complex from the 16th century, built by Phillip II of Spain, which includes palaces, a basilica, monastery, seminary and school, and a number of courtyards and gardens. The Renaissant complex followed the design of the temple of Salomon and is considered the 8th wonder of the world due to its scale and plan organization. Students have also had the opportunity to visit cities such as Cadiz, Granada, Cordoba, Salamanca and Bilbao.

In addition to live-work facilities on a small campus in Madrid, students have benefitted from Spanish bank Banco Santander and its Global Scholars program, which provides students across SUNY campuses with competitive scholarships to study at Santander´s partner universities in Latin America and Spain. 

Says Guitart: "This is just a hint of the success of the program. I could not think of a better and more complete experience for them. I may have some troubles to get all of them back home, as they keep mentioning they want to move here."

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