FEATURED THIS WEEK : ROB WALKER
In 2010 Rob Walker co-founded the Hypothetical Development Organization, which works with artists to create fanciful drawings of imaginary developments for vacant city sites — and in the process prompts questions about all those optimistic renderings that purport to show actual real-world urban developments but which are in fact, says Walker, a form of fiction. Here Walker describes the H.D.O., and locates it in a tradition of visual story-telling, of "architecture fiction," starting with Archigram in the 1960s.
BOBBY C. ROGERS
Our driveway bends around an ancient pin oak — you tell me / it is a willow oak, Quercus phellos
, but I will keep calling it / what I have always heard it called. This is how names work: / they come about somehow and stay if they stay. ...
The English environmentalist Roger Deakin lived for almost 40 years at Walnut Tree Farm. There the Elizabethan-era house, which he rebuilt, and the surrounding fields, which he worked, served as inspiration and grounding for his writings on the natural world. Soon after Deakin's death, photographer Justin Partyka documented the place in a series of images, part of an effort to understand "the deep and mutual relationship of a man and the land, intimately shaping each other."
Lately the California photographer Douglas Smith has been focusing on foreclosed homes in the San Joaquin Valley — one of the epicenters of the subprime crisis, a region hit hard by the Great Recession. Urban historian Alex Schafran looks closely Smith's photographs — at the images of bare rooms and empty backyards, of piles of abandoned toys, shoeboxes crammed with sports trophies, algae-clogged swimming pools. Smith's work, says Schafran, "attests to the influence of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, whose photographs documented the domestic toll of the Great Depression. His work, like theirs, straddles the line between art and photojournalism, beauty and realism."
DAVID T. HANSON
In the 1980s David Hanson was part of a generation of photographers who took to the skies to gain a new perspective on mines, dams, power plants and pipelines: the industrial earthworks of North America. His photographs of the massive coal mine and power plant at Colstrip, Montana, were made in the early 1980s, exhibited at MoMA in 1986, and finally published in 2010. Much has changed since Hanson took his photos, yet the economic forces that shaped Colstrip persist. The automobiles and color palette of the images date to the Reagan era. But
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PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2006
A veteran city planner and educator analyzes the anemia of U.S. planning, and detects signs of life in neighborhood activism.
University of Miami, School of Architecture
The School of Architecture's mission is founded in the faculty commitment to community and its focus on the city as a work of art and architecture. The school is a forum for the work of New Urbanism, an international movement with a charter of 27 principles addressing issues ranging from the scale of a region to individual buildings. Those principles form a vision which guides the programs of the UMSA.