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The Design Observer Group
Places

WEEKLY EMAIL: AUGUST 17, 2011


What Does Fiction Know?

FEATURED THIS WEEK : RICHARD POWERS

What Does Fiction Know?

When American novelist Richard Powers spent a semester in Berlin, teaching a seminar on fact and fiction, he lost faith in the power of imagined narratives: “What chance does personal fiction have against public facts the size of this place?” In this meditation on place and narrative, Powers struggles to write the story of postmodern Berlin. He gets the plot knocked out of him during a visit to the German Technical Museum, only to pick it up again in the strains of Bach played by a subway accordionist. His essay introduces our special feature on place in fiction, which will run throughout August. Stay tuned for short stories by Urban Waite, Emily Mitchell, Barry Lopez, Anthony Doerr, Ashleigh Pedersen, Ryan Harty and Danielle Dutton.
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ANTHONY DOERR

Village 113

Anthony Doerr is among the best American writers on the subject of memory and place. In this selection from Memory Wall, which won the 2010 Story Prize, an elderly seed keeper guards the history of an unnamed village on the Yangtze River soon to be inundated by waters rising behind the Three Gorges Dam: “Here, a thousand years ago, monks lashed themselves to boulders. Here a hunter stood motionless sixteen winters until his toes became roots and his fingers twigs.” As the seed keeper prepares for the future, her son returns to the village as a security liaison for the dam engineers.
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EMILY MITCHELL

States

Continuing our reading series on place in fiction, fabulist Emily Mitchell conjures up an alternate history of these United States. Travel to New York, the land of mirrors. Learn why Vermonters shout in public on the first Wednesday of November. Pull back the curtain on the great hoax of Louisiana. And remember, always, the official motto of Pennsylvania: “When in doubt, breathe, but not through your mouth.”
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Two great MFA programs: The  Interaction Design program, which explores the role of design in shaping everyday life and the Graduate Program for the Designer as Entrepreneur. 
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URBAN WAITE

No One Heard a Thing the Night the Chicken Died

In the spirit of August and the tradition of summer reading, Places will feature short stories throughout the month in which landscapes are central to mood and meaning. Urban Waite kicks off the series with a childhood adventure set on a family farm inside the urban boundary of Long Beach, California. When a golf course replaces the neighbors’ orange field, strange things come out of the grove and ominous signs appear in the sky.
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PRATT INSTITUTE

Dagmar Richter Joins Pratt Institute

A leading figure in contemporary architecture, Richter has been named chair of Pratt Institute's undergraduate architecture department. Her appointment will begin on January 2, 2012.

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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

Minnesota Designers Build Home at Haiti Earthquake Relief Expo

Among the 60 prototypes unveiled at the Build Back Better Communities Expo, attended by former President Bill Clinton, was a home designed by the Center for Sustainable Building Research and partners.

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LEIGH MERRILL

North Texas Strip

Earlier this week we featured Rob Walker on "architecture fiction." Here we present the work of Dallas-based artist Leigh Merrill — photographs of places that look ordinary and familiar but that are actually a kind of fiction. "While exploring a city or neighborhood, I create thousands of individual photographs and then digitally manipulate, assemble and reassemble these photographs to create new images," says Merrill. "Each image is typically made from tens to hundreds of bits and pieces of different photographs. Some depict imaginary places. Some act more like visual hyperbole — or a tall tale."
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PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2006

Seattle Central Library: Civic Architecture in the Age of Media

In the Seattle Public Library, Rem Koolhaas and OMA work to transform architecture into media interface.
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Miami

PARTNER SCHOOL

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.

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