Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to document his journey to design 30 projects by the age of 30 (May 2020). His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

A Journey to the Past in New York City

A Journey to the Past in New York City

Ever since I moved out of my home in New York City and started architecture school in Buffalo, NY nine years ago, I’ve been focusing so much on my personal growth and making progress in my career that I started losing touch with my closest friends. Thus, one of the goals that I started a few years ago was to stay in touch with my friends and meet up with them whenever I’m in their city. This week, I visited my family in New York City, had a fun time with my friends, visited my elementary school, and watched Anastasia on Broadway. Here’s how I spent my four days in New York City.

Day 1 – Flying into JFK airport and meeting up with my friends in Manhattan

Once I landed in JFK airport in NYC, I made my way out of the JetBlue terminal where I saw the TWA terminal designed by Eero Saarinen and photographed it under construction.

TWA Terminal under construction in NYC

After a short wait in the terminal, my brother arrived and drove me to my family’s house in the Bronx. As we drove, we quickly encountered the NYC bumper to bumper traffic, which prolonged our arrival by at least half an hour. When we finally made it through the jam, we made it home just in time for me to greet my mother, borrow her unlimited metro card for the train system, and catch the first train down to Manhattan to meet my friends.

Although I was running late, I let my friends know ahead of time and we delayed our dinner by an hour and a half. This gave me enough time to walk around the neighborhood where the restaurant was located and admire the buildings in the area. After getting out of the subway, I immediately encountered the NYC AIDS pavilion across the street from Mount Sinai hospital.

NYC AIDS Memorial

Diagonally across the street from the NYC AIDS memorial was a concrete and brick building that had no windows. Although I’m unsure of the building’s program, it appeared to be either a museum or utility building.

Then, I walked towards Jackson Park to check out the One Jackson Square building designed by Kohn Pederson Fox. Whenever I visited NYC, I always found myself in this area of the city and I saw the building when it was under construction on multiple occasions. It was great to see the building complete!

One Jackson Square by Kohn Pederson Fox

Finally, I made my way to a meatball restaurant where my friends and I gathered for dinner. As we ate together, we briefly caught up on everyone’s lives and what we’ve all been up to for the past year. The conversation quickly turned into a financial and self-reflection where we talked about our ideas for the future. As we continued to talk, I realized how far we’ve come from our time at the university to working full-time and growing in our careers. Our old conversations about where to travel for the weekend, going to a get together at a friend’s student apartment until the morning, and going on road trips has become conversations about plans for paying off our student loans, saving money to buy a house, and moving up the corporate ladder.

After saying our good byes and departing, I made it home by midnight and made some homemade Chinese noodles. It was my first meal at home in NYC since my arrival earlier that afternoon and it tasted like home.

Day 2 – Walking around NYC and eating at Ivan Ramen at Gotham Market

During my second day in NYC, I spent my morning and early afternoon at home catching up with my mother about new events in our lives. This time, she cooked the Chinese noodles and we sat together as I ate the meal and talked about our lives. At noon, she went off to do some house chores and I watched an episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix, which happened to be on a restaurant with locations in NYC called Ivan Ramen.

So I text my friend and let him know that we would be meeting for dinner at Ivan Ramen in Gotham Market, which is located on the west side of Manhattan near the Javits Center and north end of the High Line. We agreed on this location and I made my way downtown to explore the city before we met.

Once I arrived at 42nd street, Times Square, I walked around the neighborhood and stopped by the New York Times building. In the past, I’ve never walked close enough to the building to see the details of the vertical steel structure that braces the glazing on the storefronts on the ground floor, but this time, I checked out the Muji store and admired the steel framing of the building.

Then, I made my way towards the west side highway and admired some buildings that have been under construction for the past few years as well as some newer condominiums and office towers. As you might expect, most of them were fully clad with curtainwalls. I made my way to the Javits Center, met up with my friend, and decided to walk the Highline before we ate dinner.

Across the street from the Javits Center, I noticed a concrete building that had no windows like the other utility building that I saw the day before. Again, I was intrigued by the building and had to take a photograph for memories sake. As we walked south towards the Highline, I noticed a new skyscraper under construction with black framed glazing being installed. I loved the way that the windows looked and took a picture to remember the system.

After reaching the Highline, I noticed all of the construction happening near the train yard and remembered that half a year ago, it was all just a big hole in the ground with foundations being poured. On the walk, we passed by a building with an intricate façade structure in place that curved at the top. Then, we walked by a new concrete condominium and an opening between the new building and an old one where you can clearly see a mixture of building eras.

As we continued on our walk, we saw all of the buildings designed by famous architect, including the condominiums by Zaha Hadid that is still under construction. I’ve passed by this construction site for the past year or two and it’s coming out beautifully!

Finally, we made our way to Ivan Ramen at Gotham Market and caught up on everything in our lives and talked about our future goals. It seems that all of my friends and I are thinking about the same things; finances, goals, and our next steps in our careers. We talked until there was almost nothing else to talk about and we went our separate ways. On my walk back to the train station, I passed by a concrete building with brick fenestration and a nice plaza. I thought it was a private residential building, but it turned out to be a wonderfully designed parking lot. Then, I took the train home and went to sleep.

Beautifully designed parking garage

Day 3 – Visiting my elementary school and watching Anastasia on Broadway

During my 3rd day in NYC, I ate breakfast at home with my mother and took an Uber to my elementary school in the Bronx to meet up my with childhood friends who are now teachers at the school that we went to as children. I haven’t visited the elementary school since I graduated in 2000, so it felt as if I traveled back in time. Everything was almost the same as it was when I was a child; the kindergarten playground, smell of lunchroom food upon entering the building, the staircases with red painted handrails, the echoes of children in the tight 4 foot corridors, and even the lunchroom where I sat by the tall windows.

After seeing two of my childhood friends at my elementary school and briefly talking about what we’ve been up to, I made my way downtown to meetup with my girlfriend, Andrea, to spend time together before watching Anastasia on Broadway. On my way to meet with her, I saw the new 432 Park Avenue condominiums designed by Rafael Vinoly disappearing into the clouds.

We met each other at Rockefeller Center and decided to spend our day in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa). There were so many exhibits to be seen so we started at the top floor of the building and worked our way down. Aside from all of the beautiful paintings and sculptures, there was a furniture exhibit on one of the floors that showcased classic designs that heavily influenced interior design and furnishing.

In particular, there were many of the Eames furniture including a prototype of the plywood structure for the lounge chair, a scaled model of the Eames house, and there was a full size replica of the Frankfurt Kitchen.

By the time we finished looking at all of the exhibits in MoMa, we were hungry. We discussed several food options and decided to go with the famous Halal Guys, which was located diagonally across the street from the museum. We ordered our meals and quickly devoured a majority of it in a few minutes.

After eating the food, we had to walk off all of the carbs and protein that we ate and we decided to walk to Central Park. While walking through the park, there was an opening between the trees with a clear view of the 432 Park Avenue condominiums. We continued walking and decided to get a caricature of us drawn. This has been on our to-do list since last year and we’re happy with the result!

Caricature of Andrea and I drawn in Central Park

Finally, we made our way to meet up with Andrea’s mother, sister, and sister’s boyfriend, to see Anastasia on Broadway. We walked over to Times Square where there were so many people gathered to watch street performances or taking selfies and we stood on the top step of the small amphitheater above Tickets. Once we arrived at Anastasia, we made our way to the back of the long line, entered the theater, and grabbed our seats near the front of the stage.

Needless to say, it was an amazing musical and it’s definitely one that I recommend watching when you visit NYC!

Day 4 – Departure delay at JFK and flying back to Buffalo

On our last day in NYC, we ate breakfast at my home and took an Uber to JFK airport for our flight. We were there at 11AM for a flight that should’ve departed at 2PM. However, due to the weather, it was delayed and we didn’t leave until 5pm. Finally, we took off and arrived in Buffalo at 6:00pm. We were home and back in time to run some errands and rest.


Traveling has always been a passion of mine and I’m constantly searching for another adventure. However, the past four weekends have been filled with travel plans and I’ve realized that I enjoy traveling as long as there’s at least a two week break in between. There’s so much to experience and memories to be made with our family and friends.

To the future memories to be made and experiences to be had – safe travels!

Field of Light Final Submission

Field of Light Final Submission

Initial thoughts for a 1000 sqft skyscraper

Initial thoughts for a 1000 sqft skyscraper