WILLIAM L. FOX
"Las Vegas is a problem that won't go away," writes William L. Fox in his review of Nicole Huber and Ralph Stern's book about the city. Despite the recent troubles — housing crisis, persistent drought, rising foreclosures, declining tourism — America's playground is by now, argues Fox, "so deeply embedded in the collective American imagination that you might say it's too important to fail." Created — and periodically re-created — by massive allocations of resources, the city will continue to be underwritten by the gaming-entertainment-retail conglomerates that it enriches. Whether this is a smart move — or whether it's symptomatic of the sort of expenditures that will, in Fox's words, "lead us to a dead planet" — is anybody's bet.
Photography has long been central to our understanding of buildings and landscapes — and for most of us the experience of places both iconic and ordinary comes largely via images. Landscape architecture professor Ken McCown takes pictures to explore "factors that create harmonious interactions" between design and nature. Here he trains his lens on found objects and landscapes from the American West to classical Rome to street scenes in Seoul.
Does good design encourage good behavior? Can geometric form influence social form? These are the kind of questions that inspired Claude Bragdon, the architectural polymath and progressive thinker active at the turn of the 20th century, whose career and work are the subject of Jonathan Massey's Crystal and Arabesque
. Architectural historian Sandy Isenstadt, now a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study, reviews the book, which, he says, retrieves not just a figure who had been "abandoned by architectural history" but also a "thrilling moment in design history."
Years ago the late urban planner Kevin Lynch suggested, as a topic to consider: "How to pile up snow in interesting ways, or to decorate it or color it, with an appendix on ice palaces." Now architect and educator Sergio Lopez-Pineiro, who teaches at SUNY Buffalo, proposes that we delve into the urban design potential of snow, so that "standard plowing techniques can become creative tools for generating winter landscapes and in this way spark a new public appreciation for snow-blanketed urban spaces."
Over the years the trans-border cities of Niagara Falls, New York and Ontario, have had multiple identities — honeymoon destination, casino resort, factory town, Superfund site — all rooted in the presence of the famous waterfalls, the most powerful in North America. Architectural historian Barbara Penner, in her review of Inventing Niagara
, by Ginger Strand, recounts a contradictory history of landscape stewardship and exploitation. "Niagara Falls," she writes, "has been not only one of the most famous natural wonders in the world, but also one of the most exploited, the preeminent staging ground for the ur-battle of American culture: the battle of human against nature, of the power of nature versus man's ability to harness it."
PLACES ARCHIVE: SPRING 2005
From hot tubs to bodegas: a Houston subdivision built for the '60s singles lifestyle has found new energy as a multi-ethnic neighborhood.
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.