Chicago architecture is empty without Chicago architectural journalism. From the 1880s launch of the black-and-white publication Inland Architect, which covered the rebuilding after the Great Chicago Fire, to a 1985 critique of the James R. Thompson Center by Paul Gapp in the Chicago Tribune titled “Masterpiece or Ego Trip?” which set the course for the public reception of the building, coverage, and criticism of architecture in local newspapers and architecture publications has provided a critical link to how Chicago maintains its reputation as a city of extraordinary architecture. Architectural criticism and journalism have and continue to help Chicago understand how we arrived at this built environment and what the future holds.
The Architect's Newspaper: The Latest Architecture and News
Most of the practicing architecture is drudgery, and this is rather unfair. As students, architects are given thoughtful prompts about the built environment and its big questions, as well as sole creative reign to answer those questions. That is the only time in the architect’s life when this is the case, and in many ways, this does not adequately prepare the architecture student for the world of architecture, which is a world of drudgery. In reality, architects are not heroes.
I know what you are wondering and the answer is medium and circumcised. These are just a couple of characteristics that play a part in determining the outcome of Cyberpunk 2077, the most anticipated video game release of 2020 (and possibly ever) by CD Projekt RED. As a player, you experience the main storyline through a genderfluid avatar named V. The game’s namesake stems from a science fiction genre that at its core presents a dystopian hyper-capitalist society intended as a reflective critique of contemporary life—think Philip K. Dick’s work or Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One novel. There are plenty of well-documented issues pertaining to the game, from its perpetuation of techno-orientalism in science fiction to a buggy release resulting in too much attention on the phallic options described above. The game’s criticism of contemporary culture mostly falls flat but inadvertently it has some scathing things to say about architecture.
Works by David Adjaye, Daniel Libeskind, and More for Bid to Support Black Women Architecture Students
Architecture for Change (ARCH), a newly launched nonprofit initiative dedicated to addressing systemic racism in the architecture and design industry, is kicking off with an online auction featuring donated works—sketches, models, plans, photographic prints, and more—from a host of notable architects including Sir David Adjaye, Daniel Libeskind, Michel Rojkind, David Rockwell, Jennifer Bonner, Trey Trahan, and others.
The Harvard Graduate School of Design (Harvard GSD) will no longer refer to a private residence at 9 Ash Street in Cambridge as the “Philip Johnson Thesis House.” Moving forward, the home, designed by and inhabited by Johnson while enrolled at the Harvard GSD in the 1940s, will now be known solely by its physical street address.
There’s nothing green about your back-up generator. Manufacturing it released tons of CO2 into the atmosphere; so did shipping it from the factory to the dealership to your backyard. There it will sit, idle, waiting to be deployed only when the much cleaner—but underfunded—public infrastructure fails. At that point, it will fill the air with additional pollutants. There may be perfectly good reasons to buy an emergency generator but being green—that is, protecting the environment—isn’t one of them.
This August, as hundreds of wildfires darkened the sky above my home in Corte Madera, California, thousands of miles away in Florida, my family braced for wind and flooding as two hurricanes barreled towards the Gulf of Mexico. We all hunkered down, anxiously, as climate change-fueled disasters wreaked havoc. For weeks, the air quality in California was too hazardous for us to open our windows or go outside. In Pensacola, the Gulf storm surge was several feet deep around my family’s home and the powerful winds downed mature oak trees in their yard.
Spurred by disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, cities across the United States have, over the past 15 years, learned to “live with water.” After more than a century of filling wetlands, damming rivers, and diverting streams and stormwater flows into concrete channels, public officials, influenced by a coterie of landscape architects and planners, have embraced the opposite strategy, investing in open space networks that use dynamic natural systems to slow, store, and absorb floodwaters.
Every company across the country is talking about “diversity” and “inclusion”—but what actions are actually being taken to address the issues? In May, following the death of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, conversations were had, statements issued, and boxes checked. But achieving diversity and inclusion will involve addressing long-term, systemic issues that cannot be solved with a black square on Instagram or a carefully crafted statement from a PR department.
The first step toward diversity and inclusion is recognizing that talking about it is not enough, and the path to real change is going to be a process.
In June 1954, an article published in House & Home magazine read, “The Japanese had some of our best ideas—300 years ago.” The piece highlighted three main attributes of Kyoto’s Katsura Imperial Villa, built in the 1620s: the open post-and-beam plan, the use of verandas for climate control, and its modularity based on tatami mats and shoji screens.
A small but nevertheless significant building designed by David Adjaye in the Lower Ninth Ward for Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation will be demolished because it has been deemed unsafe.
The city of New Orleans posted a “Notice of Emergency Demolition” on the vacant house at 1826 Reynes Street, saying that it is “in imminent danger of collapse and/or threat to life,” according to NOLA.com.
The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) has released its 2020 edition of Landslide, an annual in-depth report produced by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that profiles—and raises awareness of—a geographically diverse number of at-risk American parks, gardens, horticultural features, working landscapes, and “and other places that collectively embody our shared landscape heritage.”
Throughout the south of the United States, hundreds of mid-century “equalization schools”—public schools built in the 1950s following Brown vs. Board of Education in a desperate effort to maintain segregated “separate but equal” schools in southern states—sit empty, abandoned, and crumbling.
Architect Jonathan Tate was living and working in Memphis, Tennessee, when Hurricane Katrina ensnared New Orleans in 2005. Instinctively drawn to the Big Easy, he later moved there for the opportunity to observe the reconstruction effort and investigate architecture’s role in it.
With a complex debate underway about monuments and the way we engage history, we should start thinking about a COVID-19 Memorial. Yes, I know we are in the middle (or is it still the start?) of this pandemic, but the intensity of the moment might actually help us envision what such a memorial could be. Instead of waiting for a time when we have more distance from our current catastrophe, we should capture the passions coursing through society right now.
Although deploying four months later than normal (due to an obvious, unforeseen roadblock), the Metropolitan Museum of Art has revealed its 2020 Roof Garden commission, tapping Mexican artist Héctor Zamora to drop a timely intervention across the New York City institution’s outdoor terrace.
Iconic William Pereira-designed Ziggurat in California May Be Demolished After a Government Sell Off
The Chet Holifield Federal Building in Laguna Niguel, California—better known to locals as the “Ziggurat” for obvious reasons—is reportedly at risk of demolition. The six-story, one-million-square-foot government services building is on the chopping block as the U.S. Public Buildings Reform Board, responsible for unloading federal facilities, will likely sell the structure as early as next year.
The following text was drafted in response to the first prompt in AN’s “Post-Pandemic Potentials” series. Two previous responses, by Mario Carpo and Phil Bernstein, reflected on the mostly seamless transition of architectural education from physical to virtual settings. Read more about the series here.
Michel Foucault’s famous account of the plague described the partitioning of the medieval city, the confinement of its citizens, and the accounting for and distribution of resources. Those foundational actions, according to his thesis, led to the disciplining of people and institutional bodies in space and time. Similarly, the field of medicine, consolidated by the Flexner Report of 1910 (and followed soon after by the founding of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, or ACSA, in 1912), was further formalized in the aftermath of the 1918 influenza outbreak that exposed the need for greater surveillance and diagnostics required in epidemiology.