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The Design Observer Group
Places

WEEKLY EMAIL: DECEMBER 06, 2012


The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit

FEATURED THIS WEEK : ANDREW HERSCHER

The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit

The decades-long decline of Detroit is usually framed as one of the great urban tragedies of our day. But Andrew Herscher challenges us to understand this history in new ways. "What if Detroit has lost population, jobs, infrastructure, investment — and yet, as a result of those losses, has gained opportunities to understand and engage novel urban conditions?" asks Herscher. "What if Detroit has not only fallen apart and emptied out but also transformed, becoming a new sort of urban formation that only appears depleted through the lens of conventional urbanism?"
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MICHAEL LIGHT & AARON ROTHMAN

Above Lake Las Vegas

On an artificial riviera 20 miles east of The Strip, the luxury communities of Lake Las Vegas have remained half-finished since developers declared bankruptcy in 2008. Here we present Michael Light’s aerial photographs of empty palaces, unbuilt lots and graded mountaintops. “It is sometimes difficult to tell whether you are looking at an abandoned mining operation or an aborted housing development,” writes Aaron Rothman. Speculators are now returning, but “the razed hillsides still stand as material reminders of a period of hubris and folly that ended in catastrophic failure.”
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DAVE JORDANO & AARON ROTHMAN

Detroit, As Is

The Detroit-born photographer Dave Jordano is currently working on a series titled Detroit Unbroken Down. As Aaron Rothman writes, "Jordano’s Detroit is adamantly not a symbol of decline, not an abstraction. It is a place where people live. Focusing on the particulars of places and people, Jordano’s photographs are not unduly optimistic — they are as unflinching as any 'ruin porn' — but they show the city in the present tense, alive, if struggling." Following Andrew Herscher's essay on new ways to understand Detroit, we're pleased to present a portfolio of Jordano's latest work.
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PLACES EDITORS

Places Is Hiring

Places is seeking a half-time Development & External Relations Coordinator to join our staff in San Francisco.
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BARBARA PENNER

"We shall deal here with humble things"

It may be the smallest room in the house, but the humble bathroom is where our daily domestic lives connect with large-scale infrastructures of water, waste and sanitation. Barbara Penner explores the design, culture and politics of the bathroom — this week the focus of annual World Toilet Day observances — and finds complex spaces that negotiate widely disparate scales — spaces that "hook up technology to the body, infrastructure to individuals, and public to private realms."
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PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2006

The State of City Planning Today

A veteran city planner and educator analyzes the anemia of U.S. planning, and detects signs of life in neighborhood activism.
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and Planning
The unifying theme of all our activities is design. Through the design of physical spaces, and through the design of policies and technologies that shape how those spaces are used, we aim to sustain and enhance the quality of the human environment at all scales, from the personal to the global. We believe that design and policy interventions should be grounded in a commitment to improving individual human lives, equity and social justice, cultural enrichment and the responsible use of resources through creative problem-solving and project execution.

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