FEATURED THIS WEEK : LAURA RASKIN
"Why do we preserve buildings? What do we preserve? If preservationists are restoring objects that have already been made, is the field a creative discipline?" These are the kinds of questions animating the work of architect/artist/theorist Jorge Otero-Pailos, who has become, as journalist Laura Raskin notes in her profile, the provocateur of preservation. Raskin explores the ideas that drive Otero-Pailos's recent projects, especially his "Ethics of Dust" installations, which reveal the many layers of dirt and grime that accumulate on buildings over centuries, and which become part of their legacy. Pollution is, as Otero-Pailos puts it, part of our cultural heritage.
Beginning in 1913, the waters of Owen Lake, in the eastern Sierra Nevada, were diverted to supply the growing and thirsty metropolis of Los Angeles. Eventually the enormous lake dried up and became, as Karen Piper describes it, "a howling wasteland of toxic dust." Here Piper, who grew up near the lake, narrates the often misbegotten efforts of city and state to comply with federal laws and clean up Owens lakebed. But as she argues, years of ineffectual effort suggest "that the engineering ingenuity that had once made it possible to move the waters was unavailable decades later for the equally large-scale job of remediating the damage that had been done."
What is glamour? As Sandy Isenstadt suggests, in his review of Alice Friedman's American Glamour and the Evolution of Modern Architecture
, glamour is notoriously hard to define; it's less about beauty than "charisma, celebrity and magnetism." For Isenstadt, Friedman's book offers compelling new ways to read the iconic works of some of the most influential architects of mid-century America — from Richard Neutra to Philip Johnson, Eero Saarinen to Morris Lapidus — and explains how it came to be that the elusive quality of glamour "so saturated" their work.
Earlier this week we featured journalist Nate Berg's account of how the art festival/desert party Burning Man has grown into a highly planned and intricately organized temporary city. We're delighted to follow it up with a selection of soundscapes that architect Nick Sowers recorded at the event, ranging from bicycle sounds to dust storms to "noise meditations" on the ever-present diesel generators that power the party.
"It's not exactly the ideal place to build a city. No water, little vegetation, limited animal life. August temperatures climb to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and drop close to freezing at night. High winds kick up powder-fine dust into blinding storms.... But year after year in late summer, a small city rises in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It's the annual event — or festival, or party — known as Burning Man, an eight-day experiment in self-expression and self-reliance that is now one of the most notorious cultural events in North America." So starts Nate Berg's narrative on his experience at Burning Man — and on how a San Francisco beach party mushroomed over the past quarter-century into a week-long temporary city of 50,000.
As we begin a new year at Places, I'm pleased to offer an update on our always evolving site, including information about homepage enhancements and new members of our editorial team.
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2008
The non-profit sector is a major player in promoting green urbanism. Here's what's happening in Little Rock.
Auburn University, College of Architecture, Design and Construction
Our objective is to continue the traditions of excellence established by the
many fine graduates who have studied here and gone forward to distinguished
careers in the design and construction fields. The seven programs housed in
the CADC make up the major components of the design and construction
industries. Whether one chooses to study building science, industrial design,
graphic design, architecture, interior architecture, landscape architecture, or
community planning, our commitment is to ensure that students gain the
educational values, technical skills, knowledge and ideas to promote life-long