FEATURED THIS WEEK : JESSE LECAVALIER
Walmart is one of the biggest corporations in the world (last year it ranked third, after Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil) and the largest private employer in the United States (the federal government is the largest employer). Since opening its first store in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962, the discount giant has become a ubiquitous, not to say defining, presence in suburbia. And now, having "saturated its rural and suburban markets," writes architect Jesse LeCavalier, it is training its sights on cities. Where some might see a threat, LeCavalier sees an opportunity — an opportunity not merely to make better-looking big boxes but to explore how architects might adapt the retailer's phenomenal expertise in logistics and operations to make better-performing environments.
ALEJANDRO BAHAMóN, MARIA CAMILA SANJINéS
Earlier this spring we featured The Art of Solid Waste
, a public art project at a solid waste transfer station in Phoenix, Arizona, by photographer Paho Mann, that illuminates the nature of what we throw away. Here architect Alejandro Bahamón and artist Maria Camilo Sanjinés spotlight an important emerging trend — the reuse of waste in works of architecture. The projects range widely in scale and material, from a hikers' refuge in the Chilean Patagonia constructed from discarded timber, to school additions in Cape Town that repurpose old tires, to a public art project assembled from old refrigerators.
When photographer Leigh Merrill lived in the Bay Area, she took thousands of photos of houses in San Francisco. The "Streets" series presented here focuses on houses in the Sunset neighborhood — images that are, as Merrill explains, digital fabrications, with each image "typically made from several photographs of individual houses combined with tens to hundreds of smaller bits and pieces from other photographs of houses." The results are images that appear to be plausible, straightforward, but are in fact illogical, even strange — like home ownership in America today, they are an unsettling mix of fantasy and reality.
CENTER FOR URBAN PEDAGOGY
You turn on the tap and the water flows. You press the lever and the toilet flushes. But where does your drinking water come from? And where does the wastewater go? A team of staff and students from the Brooklyn-based Center for Urban Pedagogy set out to answer these most basic of urban questions, and the result is The Water Underground
. The 24-minute video tracks the complex — and aging and sometimes contested — systems of water supply, treatment and waste that serve New York City. Continuing our affiliation with CUP, which began with Bodega Down Bronx
, we are pleased to feature the video.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
The University of Maryland has selected David Cronrath as the new dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Cronrath brings to the school experience in the post-Katrina restoration of Louisiana and a commitment to building a sustainable future.
"Throughout the global architectural community there is a concern and interest, if not obsession, with the development of compact, self-sustaining dwellings," writes architect Beth Weinstein in her review of Self-Fab House
, a compilation of the results of a competition sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia. Weinstein questions the preponderance of schemes that feature lone houses in the wilderness — the self-fab primitive hut — yet commends the optimism of many of the proposals, and also their openness to new materials, ranging from algae to nanogel, inner tubes to biodegradable plastic.
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2008
The non-profit sector is a major player in promoting green urbanism. Here's what's happening in Little Rock.
Pratt Institute, School of Architecture
The work of the students here at Pratt shows a clear appreciation and understanding of the possibilities of architecture today, as the mission of the school is dedicated to design and a complete understanding of the making of cities and buildings. The spirit of advancing architectural ideas in terms of both form and technique is at the essence of the transformation of contemporary design.