Cornell's Caroline is building a big future

A Derry-born Ivy League university lecturer is building a big reputation for herself in the world of architecture.

At just 34 years-old, avant-garde architect Caroline O'Donnell has already designed major projects in the US and Europe, including the new 50 million euro Santuario train station in the historic Italian city of Pompei.

The high flying Manchester University School of Architecture and Princeton University graduate, who hails from Parklands, Waterside,now has a full time lecturing post at the prestigious Ivy League Cornell University in New York state. She has previously taught at the Irwin S Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union, Princeton University School of Architecture, the Manchester School of Architecture, and the Technical University of Delft in Holland.

The former Thornhill student told the 'Journal': "Teaching enables me to critique my own work and stay mentally agile. I try to write and publish too. But my main focus, when I am not teaching, is working on design projects."

Caroline has worked on projects in Australia and Holland while she's currently focussing on two major projects in Germany and another in Dublin.

Her most exiting project to date and the first for which she is solely responsible is called 'Bloodline' and involves the design of a pavillion at the famous Castle Solitude near Stuttgart.

"The design of the pavilion looks at the exsiting castle and its 'parent' castle, which exists 15km away on an axis. In thinking about the pavilion's relationship to the existing castles, I started to think about it as a parent-offspring relationship, in which my pavilion is the grandchild. In heredity there are traits that are passed down and others that are mutated."

Derry plans

Caroline is "really excited" about developments back home in recent years and plans for the future of the city and would love to be a part of the regeneration of her native Derry.

"I think that the river has been neglected in Derry as in many European cities - Le Corbusier said that having a river in the city is like having the maid in the dining room. I am happy that Derry is developing its beautiful waterfront. I also think that its a great idea to connect the two sides of the city with a footbridge, especially in Derry where the river has traditionally divided the people demographically. It's a great symbol of progress and for a Watersider like me, who likes to walk, it's handy."

Although she keeps hectic schedule, Caroline does manage to get away from university life to fly home at least once a year, "usually around Christmas" to visit her family and proud mum Pauline Morrow.