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Open March 2020

Cooper Hewitt taps James Wines for Willi Smith streetwear show
Manhattan's Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum is hosting an exhibit on Willi Smith, the first solo show for the late fashion designer who was best known for his distinctive 1980s streetwear looks. Willi Smith: Street Couture, borrows its title from Smith's best-known collection, where he brought music and multimedia art together to enhance the presentation of the garments he debuted in 1983. That collection, part of the WilliWear line he started with Laurie Mallet in 1976, was sold through a showroom designed by artist and architect James Wines. Wines founded SITE, the firm that famously kitted out the BEST Products stores with form-breaking facades that defied the typical big-box typology.
The Garment District store, above and at the top, was the opposite of a polished Manhattan showroom—it resembles the utility room in a big building styled in monochrome grey. The pipes, chain link fencing, hydrants, construction and demolition waste, and manhole covers doubled as clothing racks and lent the space a grittiness which matched Smith's oversized, softly exuberant collection meant for everyday people. The showroom office, meanwhile, took a cue from SITE's deconstructed buildings via a glass-topped work surface supported by white bricks, broken and scattered at the far corner. Piles of bricks on a dolly added a decorative touch.
This time around, Wines is designed the exhibition, along with the Ingelwood, California–based poly-mode, a communication design studio. The exhibition will feature photos of the store, along with dozens of other outfits, patterns, and artwork by Smith and peer-collaborators: dancer-choreographer Dianne McIntyre, video artist Juan Downey, and Keith Haring, known for his bold line murals. This is the first time in 30 years that much of Smith's oeuvre has been shown to the public. “Willi Smith cared about ‘style over status,’” said Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, curator of contemporary design and Hintz Secretarial Scholar at Cooper Hewitt, in a prepared statement. “Clothing was simply a tool for him to disseminate ideas about personal freedoms beyond class, beyond gender, beyond race, while still having fun. He shows us that true collaboration, and the inclusivity it requires, is not a marketing gimmick or token gesture, but a way of thinking, of making and of life.” Along with Cunningham Cameron, curatorial assistants Darnell-Jamal Lisby and Julie Pastor organized the exhibition. Smith, who was born in Philadelphia but worked in New York City, died of complications from AIDS in 1987. He was 39. Programming for Street Couture, which opens in March of next year, will include a talk series around race and fashion organized with another Smithsonian institution, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. Willi Smith: Street Couture opens March 13, 2020, and will run through October 25. More details on the exhibition can be found on the Cooper Hewitt website.
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Future Fellows

Knight Foundation announces its first class of Public Spaces Fellows
Seven influential leaders, experts, and practitioners have been selected for the inaugural class of Knight Public Spaces Fellows. Launched this year by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a non-profit committed to fostering community in service of democratic ideals, the program will grant each individual $150,000 to put towards building effective public space initiatives around the United States. Selected from an open call that drew of over 2,000 candidates, the Knight Fellows stood out for their track records of influencing or creating spaces that advance community engagement and connection in cities. Sam Gill, the Knight Foundation vice president for communities and impact, describes the individuals recognized in this inaugural class, saying in a statement, “These rare people see something different when they look at streets, parks, and sidewalks—they see a vision of how our communities could look, feel, and be different.” Knight has expressed a desire for their chosen nominees to incorporate and build upon their existing and former projects, while also using the fellowship to break ground on new projects and ideas for the field. Check out the list of seven recipients below:  Anuj Gupta (Philadelphia) As general manager of Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia's famous 125-year-old food and retail hub, Gupta has helped bring a record number of visitors to the space in his tenure. He's integrated innovation distribution models for service, selected new and trendy vendors, and figured out special ways to keep people coming back to the market. He's widely recognized for his initiatives that connect people of different cultures through food.  Robert Hammond (New York) Hammond is the cofounder and executive director of the High Line on Manhattan's West Side. A vision that began 20 years ago, it's now one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city and has spurred a wave of development in the Chelsea neighborhood. In 2017, he established the High Line Network, which assists communities in the infrastructure reuse projects.  Walter Hood (Berkeley, California) Widely known for designing award-winning urban spaces for cultural institutions such as the Cooper Hewitt Museum, the Broad Museum, and the Solar Strand at the University of Buffalo, Hood creates projects that intersect with art, fabrication, landscape, research, and urbanism. He's a professor at the University of California, Berkley where he teaches landscape architecture and urban design, and is the founder and creative director of Hood Design Studio Eric Klinenberg (New York) As the Helen Gould Shepard Professor of Social Science at New York University, Klinenberg thinks and teaches on urban public spaces. He most recently served as research director of Rebuild by Design, the federal competition that sought innovative ideas for rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Last year, he published “Palaces for the People”, a book about how social infrastructure such as libraries, parks, and playgrounds can revitalize democratic culture and civic life. Chelina Odbert (Los Angeles) Odbert is co-founder and executive director of Kounkuey Design Initiative, a nonprofit design firm based out of Los Angeles, the Coachella Valley, Nairobi, and Stockholm. Her studio heavily focuses on community participation and its role in public development, as well as how design can integrate the strongest environmental, social, and economic strategies to help solve inequity.  Kathryn Ott Lovell (Philadelphia) Lovel currently serves as the commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, one of the nation's largest parks systems. Appointed in 2016, she established the first strategic plan for the agency, "Our Path to 2020," which emphasizes citizen-centric service, a commitment to the city's well-maintained assets, and creating relevant and accessible programming such as the Parks on Tap mobile beer garden, and the Philadelphia International Unity Cup soccer tournament, among others.  Erin Salazar (San Jose, California) Salazar is the founder and executive director of Exhibition District in San Jose, a woman-owned and operated arts nonprofit that's helping create economic opportunities for artists to do work in downtown San Jose. A muralist herself, she is committed to city beautification and redefining the concept of public space while also drawing out the cultural authenticity of a city that's rapidly urbanizing and full of large corporations. Most recently, Exhibition District started Local Color, an incubator project that reactivates neglected buildings. 
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50/50 Chance

Stalled California housing bill could give architects chance to redesign the state’s cities
California needs 3.5 million housing units. That’s more housing units than currently exist in most states. This shortage—California ranks 49th in housing units per capita, ahead of only Utah—developed slowly but has metastasized into a true crisis, with housing costs rising to untenable levels for all but the most well-off Californians. In considering how and where to add a volume equivalent to all of Virginia, a key question is, what state—or, rather, what city—will those new units look like? Will they look like the tract homes of Phoenix? The row houses of Philadelphia? The high-rise apartments of New York City? The triple-deckers of Boston? The genteel mansions of Richmond? Or, perhaps worst of all, the mid-rises of Hollywood? The answers depend in large part on where new housing gets built. A recent bill in the California legislature almost provided the answer—almost. Senate Bill 50, sponsored by San Francisco–based State Senator Scott Wiener, would have mandated increased housing densities around major public transit lines and “jobs rich” areas throughout the state by requiring cities to permit multifamily buildings of up to five stories by right. Wiener contended that California needs more housing and that the best locations are those that enable residents to minimize commuting by personal automobiles. A relatively late amendment would have eliminated single-family zoning, permitting homeowners to build up to four units on any single-family lot, and limited the high-density provisions to counties of over 600,000 residents. California has always maintained a tense relationship with density, often failing to plan for it while suffering its ill effects all the same. SB 50 could be the catalyst to help the state abandon its suburban fetishes once and for all. An updated version of a bill that Wiener sponsored last year, SB 50 nearly made it out of the State Senate until Appropriations Committee Chair Anthony Portantino scuttled it with a procedural tactic, refusing to bring it to a vote in committee. The move put an abrupt end to what had arguably been the most heated debates over land-use legislation in state history. SB 50, like many other recent controversies related to development and housing in California, did not inspire neat loyalties. While its core support came from the increasingly influential YIMBY movements and core opposition came from homeowners, the politics were messy at best. Conservatives could love its relaxation of regulations but hate its emphasis on dense urbanism. Liberals were more intensely fractured. SB 50 appealed to values of inclusion and of progressivism, be they socioeconomic or aesthetic. For some, the bill served the cause of equity simply by potentially creating more housing. Other liberals saw it differently. Advocates of social justice feared SB 50 would empower capitalist developers while displacing and disenfranchising vulnerable populations through eviction and demolition. Older liberal activists, especially in suburban areas, put their economic interests first, recoiling from the prospect that increased housing supply might depress their property values. Many of them protested SB 50’s potential to interfere with “neighborhood character.” (Wiener’s antagonist Portantino represents La Cañada Flintridge, a comfortable suburb north of downtown Los Angeles.) Institutionally, the League of California Cities and many city councils statewide condemned SB 50 for trampling on “local control,” asserting that land use decisions have always belonged to municipalities and municipalities alone. Many mayors, however, including those of Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose, praised SB 50 for giving cities a new opportunity to ease their housing crisis—and to do so equitably statewide, forcing housing-phobic cities to approve their fair share of housing rather than ignore demand and dodge their obligations in the name of municipal sovereignty. By some accounts, a full 97 percent of California cities failed to meet their state-mandated housing goals in 2018. The California chapter of the American Planning Association controversially opposed SB 50, citing concerns about technical aspects of the bill’s language, even though many of its more progressive members favored it. Chapters of the American Institute of Architects did not take a position on it. Design rarely factored into these discussions explicitly, but its influence cannot be overlooked. Fears about changes to “neighborhood character” often accompany prejudices about “undesirable” racial or socioeconomic groups. They also refer to lousy design. Many homeowners recoiled against SB 50 out of fear that modest cottages might be overshadowed by a new triplex next door or crowded by the addition of an accessory dwelling unit. Urban activists took aim at even bigger targets. Opponents of growth in Los Angeles in particular have long railed against what they consider oversized, ugly, and excessively capitalistic apartment buildings. Such enormities often occupy full city blocks and rise five or six stories, with wood framing above one-story concrete bases. They have been the mainstay of Hollywood’s decade-long growth spurt and have arisen in many other moderately dense neighborhoods around the state. Revulsion is, often, completely justified. Large but underwhelming, and expensive but unrefined, such developments have poor detailing, clunky dimensions, and, often, antagonistic relationships with the street. They have neither humor nor grace nor character, and they succeed at one thing and one thing only: housing many people. Typically, those people are well off—or at least are pretending to be. While California’s housing crisis has many causes, it’s not unreasonable to say that lousy design is one of them, and it’s not unreasonable for opponents of SB 50 to make apocalyptic predictions about aesthetics. This is the backdrop against which architects should contemplate the revival of SB 50. Wiener has pledged to bring it back next year, and the appetite for major housing legislation remains fierce—before long, some version of SB 50 will pass, and the opportunities for architects and architecture will be profound. The quality of design that follows the passage of the next version of SB 50 will, without exaggeration, determine the look, feel, and function of California cities for at least the next generation. Many opponents of SB 50 criticize it as a "giveaway" to capitalist developers. If architects are to support the next version of SB 50, they should want to be seen as stewards, not opportunists. Upzoning around transit stops will create entirely new transit-oriented neighborhoods. Places that currently consist of park-and-ride lots and single-family homes will rise to five and six stories, with less parking than most zoning codes currently mandate. That’s like taking a cookie cutter to San Francisco’s Mission District or Los Angeles’s Koreatown and depositing the result in bedroom communities and office parks. Of course, California has hundreds of major transit stops and jobs centers (over 200 light- and heavy-rail stations alone), and the whole point of SB 50 is to distribute development statewide so that neighborhoods grow gradually. Even so, some places will be transformed sooner rather than later. In a state where many residents are mortally afraid of density, the choices that architects make will determine whether the new urban California is a dream or a nightmare—they can stumble into the latest versions of capitalist postmodern, or they can reflect on everything we have learned about the benefits of density. Designs have to be thoughtful, attractive, and socially conscious. They have to celebrate density, enhance the public realm, and give California cities a sense of style and character that they have lacked for decades. (Likewise, cities’ design guidelines and review boards will have to get savvier.) If SB 50’s single-family home provision survives (which seems unlikely), it will create a bonanza for residential architects. They will get to re-learn the art of the duplex, triplex, and quadplex—typologies that used to be common in California but have been all but extinct since the Truman administration. But new homes must not realize neighbors’ worst nightmares. They must not loom over their predecessors. They must not be large for largeness’s sake. In short, they must treat neighbors as clients. Whatever lawmakers intend for SB 50, the public will render its final judgment according to how architects seize the moment. Whether they like it or not, architects bear the final responsibility to fulfill the public trust. Of course, the real beauty of SB 50—if it comes to pass and if it works as intended—will be invisible. That will be the opportunity to craft affordable and humane housing for hundreds of thousands Californians.
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An American Experiment

Amanda Kolson Hurley dives into radical histories of U.S. suburbs
Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City Amanda Kolson Hurley Belt Publishing $16.95

When a book about suburbia contains a chapter called “The Anarchists Who Took the Commuter Train,” you know it is going to be an interesting read. That book is Amanda Kolson Hurley’s Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City, and it does not disappoint. In six well-researched and informative—yet fast-paced—chapters, Hurley introduces us to a tapestry of suburban social experimentation, from communal living in celibacy to a community of working couples inspired by the Bauhaus. It is a rich collection of projects, most of which have been overlooked by standard urban surveys.

And yes, there were anarchists in Piscataway, New Jersey, commuting to day jobs in Manhattan. Stelton was a development by anarchists decamping from New York’s East Village in 1915. It was centered around an experimental school, the Modern School, which had both year-round and summer residents united by ultraleft political beliefs and, apparently, a love of argumentation. As throughout the book, Hurley takes her research of Piscataway and the Stelton development on the road, visiting the remnants of the town and interviewing former Stelton residents who remember idyllic school days where—as you can imagine in an anarchist paradise—they were pretty much allowed to do anything they liked. Hurley tells Stelton’s story in rich detail, examining everything from how property rights were handled to the ways in which the houses were decorated.

The chapter on Concord Park, which is just outside of Philadelphia, is equally illuminating. Subtitled “Integrating the Suburbs at ‘Checkerboard Square,’” this section details the efforts of a white developer, Morris Milgram, to create a completely integrated suburb in the 1950s. Hurley effectively conveys the many hurdles Milgram faced and the agonizing choices he had to make, most notably his decision to mandate a quota of 55 percent sales to whites and 45 percent to blacks. As one of only a handful of suburban communities to offer high-quality homes to black residents, the quota was deemed necessary in order to keep it from becoming majority black, with the 10 percent disparity added to entice whites to buy. The project was an initial success (it later did revert to an upper-middle-class majority black neighborhood). Hurley again found authentic voices of former residents, combined with tireless research, to record its story.

All of the stories in this book are masterfully told, adding depth to the examination of suburbs within the disciplines of urbanism and architecture—while at the same time providing enough color and commentary to appeal to a reader with little experience or prior interest in the subject. Hurley’s focus on social experimentation and the ways developments affected residents’ day-to-day lives is part of this success.

What gets perhaps less attention, however, is the wonkier architectural-urban analyses of urban design and architecture in contributing to the radicality of these projects. Of the two more “architectural” projects detailed in the book, The Architects' Collaborative’s collection of Modernist homes outside of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the planned city of Reston, Virginia—the dreamchild of developer Robert E. Simo designed by William Conklin and Thomas Rossant—which only Reston could be considered a truly radical challenge to the standard subdivision in terms of its urban design, embracing both density and mixing of uses. Even at Reston, Simon was forced out and the project reverted to typical suburban norms. (The knife in the gut is that the companies that took over the project were Gulf Oil and Mobil—as if we needed any further proof of what oil companies are looking for in terms of how people live and commute.)

As a result, the book is rather short on critical analysis of the role of design and, perhaps more important, whether design can play a role in remedying any of the problems—restrictive covenants, lack of density and connections, the effects of climate change—that Hurley details in her conclusion as everyday realities. As many—if not most—of the projects in the book ended up failing in themselves or at least failing to inspire any larger movements, the role of design in the relative success of an example like Greenbelt, Maryland—where the proto-modernist forms of Art Deco were used to create a successful mingling of a main street with true suburban freedoms—would make for an interesting next volume.

Hurley’s organization of the book reflects this dichotomy between what is considered success and what is considered failure. She begins in the introduction with a full-throated defense of the suburbs, detailing their increased diversity, quality of life, and sense of community, arguing that the examples in the book are a refutation of suburban clichés of conformity, mediocrity, and blandness. Yet she ends with the aforementioned critique and offers a list of ways in which suburbs could improve. Even the most ordinary of suburbs can of course be considered a uniquely American experiment that has had extraordinary success in redefining how people live. As with any experiment, it is the failures that often provide the pathway to new solutions, and Hurley shows how a number of outliers previously lost to history offer clear alternatives. With 50 percent of Americans still living in the suburbs, even the most hardcore urbanist cannot refute the need to reexamine and redesign them. Hurley has provided us with much-needed fuel for the imagination.

Dan Wood, FAIA, is a cofounder of WORKac and author of We’ll Get There When We Cross That Bridge and 49 Cities.

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Jail Simulator 2019

AECOM chosen to oversee design-build of Rikers replacement towers
A joint team of AECOM and the Philadelphia-based construction consulting firm Hill International has been tapped by the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) to oversee the design and construction of the four borough-based jail towers that will replace Rikers Island. The pair was awarded a $107.4 million contract to administer the four teams that will build the new jails, one team for each location. Once complete, the four new jail towers will each be expected to hold approximately 1,500 beds, as well as rehabilitative and reentry programs, counseling, educational, and health components, as well as community space, at a total cost of $8.7 billion. If the new jails in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan move ahead, they would be the city’s first design-build projects. The DDC issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Program Management Consultant team in October of 2018 for the borough-based jails project. AECOM touts that the company is no stranger to building correctional facilities, and the company’s broad architecture and engineering experience makes it a good fit for design-build, where the architects and builders work in tandem to realize the project. The AECOM-Hill team will work off of a framework first devised by Perkins Eastman, which, along with 17 subcontractors, laid out the potential sites and space requirements for the replacement jails. Their final determination was that the city should refurbish existing buildings or build new jails close to the central courthouses in each borough so that inmates could easily make their court appearances. Of course, the plan hasn’t been without its detractors. All four jails are being moved through the Uniform Land Use Review Process at once in an effort to close Rikers as fast as possible, but residents have been pushing back against erecting new jails in their neighborhoods, and clashing with carceral activists. At the time of writing, four community boards have voted against the plan (Community Board 1 rejected building a 45-story jail tower at 125 White Street on Tuesday), although their votes are nonbinding.
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CAB Drivers

Chicago Architecture Biennial announces this year's participants
The 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, titled ...and other such stories, will present work that explores architecture as it relates to social, political, and environmental issues. Curators Yesomi Umolu, Sepake Angiama, and Paulo Tavares have invited more than 80 architects, artists, researchers, and activists from around the world to converge on the shores of Lake Michigan, where their multidisciplinary collaborations will show the public how design can transform lives. The curators want collaboration and dialogue to be at the center of this year’s event, which gives contributors the opportunity to “expand [their] inquiries by connecting practices to each other and to visitors during the biennial’s run,” said Umolu. The planned collaborative projects include local firm Borderless Studio working with the Istanbul-based Herkes İçin Mimarlık (Architecture For All), studioBASAR of Bucharest, and Berlin’s Zorka Wollny to develop inclusive strategies for repurposing civic spaces on the site of the historic Anthony Overton Elementary School, and Keleketla! Library of Johannesburg which, working with Chicago’s Stockyard Institute, will be creating a space to discuss the importance of heritage sites and public housing at the site of the National Public Housing Museum. The Chicago Architecture Biennial was founded in 2015 to bring the global architectural vanguard to a city celebrated for its legacy of architectural innovation, and to give the public an opportunity to engage with architecture in new ways. It’s a lot like the Venice Architecture Biennale, but instead of a drinking Prosecco in an impossible city built on marshy ground, attendees drink Goose Island 312 in an inevitable city built on railroads and stockyards (or so I’m told—I’ve never been). The inaugural event, The State of the Art of Architecture, was curated by Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda who challenged contributors to take on pressing cultural issues, and 2017’s MAKE NEW HISTORY, curated by Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, which highlighted various modes of production from book to burg. This year’s event, …and other such stories, runs from September 19, 2019, through January 5, 2020. It is free and open to the public across all citywide locations. Without any further ado, here are your contributors to the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial:

Exhibition Contributors

Adrian Blackwell (born in Toronto, Canada; lives in Toronto, Canada) Akinbode Akinbiyi (born in Oxford, England-UK; lives in Berlin, Germany) Alejandra Celedon (born in Edmonton, Canada; lives in Santiago, Chile) & Nicolas Stutzin (born in Santiago, Chile; lives in Santiago, Chile) Alexandra Pirici (born in Bucharest, Romania; lives in Bucharest, Romania) Avijit Mukul Kishore (born in Lucknow, India; lives in Mumbai, India) & Rohan Shivkumar (born in Hyderabad, India; lives in Mumbai, India) Black Quantum Futurism (founded in Philadelphia, USA) Borderless Studio (founded in Chicago, USA) CAMP (founded in Mumbai, India) Carolina Caycedo (born in London, England–UK; lives in Los Angeles, USA) Center for Spatial Research (founded in New York, USA) Chicago Architectural Preservation Archive (founded in Chicago, USA) Clemens von Wedemeyer (born in Göttingen, Germany; lives in Berlin, Germany) Cohabitation Strategies (founded in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and New York, USA) & Urban Front (founded in New York, USA) ConstructLab (founded in Berlin, Germany) DAAR (Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti) (founded in Beit Sahour, Palestine) Detroit Planning Department (founded in Detroit, USA) Do Ho Suh (born in Seoul, South Korea; lives in London, England–UK) FICA–Fundo Imobiliário Comunitário para Aluguel (founded in São Paulo, Brazil) Forensic Architecture (founded in London, England–UK) & Invisible Institute (founded in Chicago, USA) Herkes İçin Mimark (Architecture For All) (founded in Istanbul, Turkey) Jimmy Robert (born in Guadeloupe–France; lives in Berlin, Germany) Joar Nango (born in Áltá/AltaÁltá, Sápmi/Northern Norway; lives in Romssa /Tromsø, Norway) Jorge González (born in San Juan, Puerto Rico; lives in Puerto Rico) Keleketla! Library (founded in Johannesburg, South Africa), in collaboration with Stockyard Institute (founded in Chicago, USA) Maria Gaspar (born in Chicago, USA; lives in Chicago, USA) MASS Design Group (founded in Boston and Poughkeepsie, USA, and Kigali, Rwanda) MSTC (founded in São Paulo, Brazil), in collaboration with Escola da Cidade (founded in São Paulo, Brazil) and O Grupo Inteiro (founded in São Paulo, Brazil) Ola Hassanain (born in Khartoum, Sudan; lives in Khartoum, Sudan and Utrecht, Netherlands) Oscar Tuazon (born in Seattle, USA; lives in Los Angeles, USA) Palestine Heirloom Seed Library Project (founded in the northern West Bank, Palestine) Raumlabor (founded in Berlin, Germany) RIWAQ - Center for Architectural Conservation (founded in Ramallah, Palestine) RMA Architects (founded in Mumbai, India and Boston, USA) Sammy Baloji (born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo; lives in Brussels, Belgium and Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo) & Filip de Boeck (born in Antwerp, Belgium; lives in Brussels, Belgium and Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo) Santiago X (lives in Chicago, USA) Settler Colonial City Project (founded in Ann Arbor USA and Guayaquil, Ecuador) in collaboration with American Indian Center (founded in Chicago, USA) Somatic Collaborative (Felipe Correa & Devin Dobrowolski) (founded in New York, USA) studioBASAR (founded in Bucharest, Romania) Sweet Water Foundation (founded in Chicago, USA) Tania Bruguera (born in Havana, Cuba; lives in New York, USA) & Association of Arte Útil (founded in Havana, Cuba) Tanya Lukin Linklater (born in Alaska, USA; lives in Ontario, Canada) & Tiffany Shaw-Collinge (born in Alberta, Canada; lives in Alberta, Canada) Territorial AgencyJohn Palmesino & Ann-Sofi Rönnskog (founded in London, England–UK) The Funambulist (founded in Paris, France) Theaster Gates (born in Chicago, USA; lives in Chicago, USA) Usina - CTAH (founded in São Paulo, USA) Vincent Meessen (born in Baltimore, USA; lives in Brussels, Belgium) Walter J. Hood (born in Charlotte, USA; lives in Oakland, USA) Wendelien van Oldenborgh (born in Rotterdam, Netherlands; lives in Berlin, Germany) Wolff Architects (founded in Cape Town, South Africa) Zorka Wollny (born in Kraków, Poland; lives in Berlin, Germany)

Catalog Contributors

American Indian Center (founded in Chicago, USA) Aviwe Mandyanda (BlackStudio) (born in Mdantsane, a township in East London, South Africa; lives in Johannesburg, South Africa) Carmen Silva (born in Santo Estêvão, Brazil; lives in São Paulo, Brazil) cheyanne turions (born in High Prairie, Canada; lives in Vancouver) Dr. Denise Ferreira da Silva (born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; lives in Vancouver, Canada) ELLA (founded in Los Angeles, USA) Emmanuel Pratt (born in Virginia, USA; lives in Chicago, USA) Eduardo O. Kohn (lives in Montreal, Canada) Inam Kula (born in Gugulethu, a township in Cape Town, South Africa; lives in Cape Town, South Africa) Lesley Lokko (born in Dundee, Scotland – UK; lives in Johannesburg, South Africa) Mario Gooden (lives in New York City, USA) Pelin Tan (born in Hilden, Germany; lives in Mardin, Turkey) Stephen Willats (born in London, England–UK; lives in London, England–UK) Vincent Tao (born in Scarborough, Canada; lives in Toronto, Canada) Virginia de Medeiros (born in Feira de Santana, Brazil; lives in São Paulo, Brazil) Vivien Sansour (born in Beit Jala, Palestine; lives in Bethlehem, Palestine and Los Angeles, USA) Columbia Books on Architecture and the City (founded in New York City, USA)
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Overcoming Obese-city

In Jackson, Mississippi, architects are taking on a citywide hunger problem

By more than one measure, Jackson, Mississippi, is one of the nation’s unhealthiest cities. In 2017, it was named the fattest city in America based on 17 indicators, including obesity rates, levels of physically active adults, and access to fresh produce. In fact, nearly one-fifth of city residents are considered food insecure. The state of Mississippi does not fare much better—for the last eight years, it was reported as the most food insecure state in the country, even though agriculture is the state’s top industry. 

It’s not just that Jackson has only 17 grocery stores for a population of nearly 170,000—that’s one per nearly 10,000 people. But the food that is available is disproportionately tipped toward fast food and gas station items. As one scholar of Jackson’s food culture told the Clarion Ledger, “Hunger happens in between bags of chips.” 

All of this is compounded by the city’s lack of viable public transit options. Jackson is designed around the car, but many residents, whose wallets are already stretched thin on federal food assistance dollars, don’t own one. Even those with groceries or farmers’ markets in walking distance are discouraged by the lack of sidewalks or crosswalks. These conditions are undergirded by decades of generational poverty and disinvestment due to white flight, unfavorable tax policies, and the state’s aggressive efforts to cut resources for Medicaid and limit food stamps.

But Jackson also has a long history of civil rights activism, and its residents in 2013 and again in 2017 elected mayors who promised nothing less than wholesale social and economic transformation. For Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, addressing Jackson’s food access challenge is part of his promise to make it “the most radical city in the world.” But rather than enlisting conventional strategies, the city has mobilized its long-range planning division to lead a new design-based initiative. Bolstered by a $1 million public art grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, “Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue about Food Access” brings together architects and artists alongside chefs, gardeners, food policy experts, and local institutions to facilitate a year of community-engaged interventions at three sites in the city. The project will culminate in a citywide exhibition in the spring of 2020, but ultimately it aims to establish a nonprofit research lab on food access that will operate on a permanent basis to sustain the momentum that is created.

The city invited an intriguing roster of architects and designers from around the country to participate in the multidisciplinary initiative: Kathy Velikov and Geoffrey Thün, directors of RVTR; Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges of Akoaki; Walter Hood of Hood Design Studio, and Jonathan Tate, who runs his namesake practice, Office of Jonathan Tate. Architects are central to the project, said Travis Crabtree, a senior urban planner with the city and one of the project’s coordinators. “When we first got the grant, people asked, Why are we spending $1 million dollars on an art project when we could feed people for a million?” he said.

Looking more closely at what these designers bring to the table may illustrate what can be gained from this approach. The question of access is at the heart of practices like the Toronto and Ann Arbor, Michigan–based RVTR, led by Velikov and Thün, who are both associate professors at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. In their ongoing project, Protean Prototypes, they conceive of public transit systems as platforms to address access to mobility, food, education, and health. They do this by mapping the social and spatial opportunities for access, connecting underserved areas with local actors who can bridge access gaps and by proposing lightweight spatial prototypes that overlay onto public transit infrastructure, such as bus stops and metro stations. The prototypes might include emerging tech like mobile produce vending systems and bike-cart shares alongside other programs with a small footprint like exercise equipment and book lending programs. Applying this method to Chicago, San Francisco, and Detroit, this complex systems approach brings together architectural and urban scale in new assemblages that amplify the resources already on the ground and take advantage of the larger urban context to channel them where they are needed most.

In Jackson, Velikov and Thün will focus their efforts at the Ecoshed, a 15,000-square-foot, open-air building on a 2-acre industrial site that borders two very different neighborhoods—the rapidly gentrifying Fondren and Virden Addition, one of the poorest in the city. For Fertile Ground, the Ecoshed will demonstrate a self-sustaining closed-loop food system and host the food lab, and eventually host the Fertile Ground nonprofit.

Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges of Detroit-based Akoaki will also focus their efforts at the Ecoshed. Their practice has engaged with the problem of food access through four years of work with an urban farm in Detroit, the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm. Sirota is also an associate professor of architecture at Taubman. Detroit provides a uniquely fertile landscape for thinking about urban food access. According to Sirota, Detroit has 1,300 urban farms, but none of them are sustainable. At the 6-acre Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, sustainability for Sirota and Farges has meant strategizing beyond economics alone. To them, urban farms are hubs for urban regeneration, and they realized that multiple layers of activity and programming were needed to realize that potential. Like Velikov and Thün, they see architecture as a way of “amplifying the activity that’s already happening on the ground, to stitch together new and productive alliances.”

Detroit may be 1,000 miles from Jackson, but the connection between the two cities runs deep. Like Jackson, Detroit is a majority African American city, with many residents who have ties to Mississippi and other southern states. Thus, the Oakland Avenue farm grows many heritage products from Mississippi. Likewise, the association to agriculture is similarly fraught in both cities; as Sirota noted, “We are highly attuned to the idea that going back to the land isn’t necessarily representationally positive to everyone.” Rather than framing urban farming as a return to an idyllic past (and glossing over the history of slavery and policies that led to the dispossession or denial of land to freed slaves), Akoaki’s urban farm work is firmly sited in the urban. “We’ve become astutely aware that the neo-rural is not rural; it’s something that deserves an aesthetic that hybridizes all the aspirations of the city and combines them with the necessity to produce picturesque landscape and food.” Thus the practice’s design of pop-up performance spaces next to the farm’s kale fields for the Detroit African Funkestra is based on the colors and shapes of shuttered music venues across Detroit.

Another participating architect, Oakland-based landscape architect Walter Hood, has extensive experience designing cultural and urban landscapes. Hood, who is also a professor at University of California, Berkeley's  will focus his efforts at Galloway Elementary in Jackson. The 4.3-acre, publicly owned lot is currently a playfield for a local elementary school. According to the city’s planning department, this site is located in a lower-income residential neighborhood with little public space and bordered by a major street dominated by fast food establishments. The theme here will be on food and community.

This is a good fit for Hood. His projects in Charleston, South Carolina; Macon, Georgia; Detroit, and Philadelphia, among other cities, demonstrate a steady thread of incorporating community feedback, local culture, and collective memory into landscape and urban design. In his Water Table installation at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, Hood tapped into the ecology and history of rice production by mounting thousands of Carolina Gold rice plants in circular planters on a platform in a school courtyard, essentially recreating a rice paddy in downtown Charleston. The project resurfaced the link between rice production and the history of the slave labor that made Carolina’s rice industry possible. Afterwards, the project was dissembled and distributed, planter by planter, across schools and institutions in the area, and lived on to continue the conversation. This archaeological approach also surfaces in many other projects by Hood Studio, including its master plan for Detroit’s Rosa Parks neighborhood. Hood's work has long engaged with the idea of “being a protagonist in design," and, in reflecting on the future work in Jackson, asked, “How do we make a landscape powerful, so that once you do it, it has a resonance?”

Finally, at Congress Street, the third Fertile Ground site, New Orleans–based architect Jonathan Tate will bring his experience with food culture and exhibition design to a downtown storefront space. The Congress Street site is close to the heart of government and is intended to amplify the project to public officials and policymakers who work nearby.

For Tate, who designed the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, the task includes not only the adaptive reuse of an existing building but also the design of an outdoor parklet that invites the public in through greenscape and seating. The challenge will be to bring it all together—the art, the history, the contributions of numerous partners, and of course, engage critical feedback, in a downtown that goes quiet at 5 p.m. on weekdays. "Instead of a veneer you're walking through, it's about bringing the space of the building out into the street," he explained.

The architects, along with other Fertile Ground team members, began site visits in April, and will develop their proposals until the citywide expo in 2020.

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And the winner is...

Graham Foundation announces 2019 architectural research grants winners
The Graham Foundation recently announced the winners of 63 grants for projects that ranged from exhibits on suburban housing stock to research on the effects of MTV on postmodern space. The Chicago-based foundation awarded more than $460,000 to awardees from around the world, selected from more than 500 proposals. In total, more than 4,500 projects have been funded by the Graham Foundation since 1956. New domestic formations, the topography of epidemics, and an examination of architecture's relationship to riots are among the projects awarded Graham funding. Below is a selection of the exhibits, publications, programs, and research projects that were among this year's awardees, with text provided by the Graham Foundation. Lap Chi Kwong and Alison Von Glinow  for the exhibit Smuggling Architecture "The history of the suburban house has been and continues to be codified in a handful of builder's manuals that offer a huge selection of home plans to pick-and-choose buyers. These builder homes are living artifacts: a domestic typology rigidly embedded within the American landscape. Smuggling Architecture seeks to reclaim the suburban housing stock that has been neglected by modern architecture. The exhibition optimistically smuggles meaning and value into the interiors of generic suburban house plans through architectural orders." The Extrapolation Factory, practice founded by Elliott P. Montgomery and Chris Woebken for the public program Metro Test Zones "Metro Test Zones, a new initiative from The Extrapolation Factory, proposes studying the way think-tanks work and distilling those approaches to make them accessible to communities and individuals. Providing tools for visualizing dreams from all sorts of cultural perspectives opens up new rhetorical spaces for questioning the world with greater potential for change." Frida Escobedo and Xavier Nueno for the research project An Atlas of New Mexican Ruins "If archeological ruins were rearranged during the postrevolutionary period in museums and historical sites to construct Mexico’s postcolonial identity, “designed ruins” have become the testimony of the undoing of the Mexican nation-state under the close supervision of transnational institutions and corporations... An Atlas of New Mexican Ruins aims, through a series of visual and theoretical case studies, to explore the destructive—although productive—architectural work of neoliberalism in Mexico." Nahyun Hwang & David Eugin Moon for the exhibit: Interim Urbanism: Youth, Dwelling, City "Youths represent a dynamic yet precarious section of today’s populations. No longer belonging to safe spaces of childhood, but not yet, if ever, integrated into the expected paradigms of traditional family structures, a large portion of today’s youths, while seemingly spontaneous in lifestyle choices and welcoming mobility, occupy the vulnerable spaces of the in-between and the prolonged interim. The project investigates the spaces that youths reside in, as they intersect with sustained sociopolitical and economic uncertainties, inequalities, and emergent lifestyles." Nandini Bagchee and Marlisa Wise for the exhibit: Homesteading and Cooperative Housing Movements in NYC, 1970s and 80s "The exhibition Homesteading and Cooperative Housing Movements in NYC, 1970s and 80s, tracks the impact of collective, self-organized practices such as squatting, homesteading, and resident mutual aid in New York City and examines the way in which they have shaped the city. By analyzing ownership models, construction methods, spatial techniques, and material practices deployed by the cooperative housing movement, and presenting them through an immersive and interactive environment, the exhibition asks audience members to imagine new models for equitable development and spatial commoning." Heather Hart  for the research project Afrotecture (Re)Collection "This work is unearthing, interpreting, and constructing architectures for liminal spaces that emerge from the intersection of notable African American narratives, architectural form, and theory. What might happen if the balcony of the infamous Lorraine Hotel—the Memphis, TN, establishment where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968—was replicated in a gallery space? Beatriz Colomina, Ignacio G. Galán, Evangelos Kotsioris, and Anna-Maria Meister for the publication Radical Pedagogies "Radical Pedagogies is a collaborative history project that explores a series of pedagogical experiments that played a crucial role in shaping architectural discourse and practice in the second half of the twentieth century. As a challenge to normative thinking, they questioned, redefined, and reshaped the postwar field of architecture. They are radical in the literal meaning stemming from the Latin radix (root), as they question the basis of architecture. These new modes of teaching shook foundations and disturbed assumptions, rather than reinforcing and disseminating them. They operated as small endeavors, sometimes on the fringes of institutions, but had long-lasting impact." Sara R. Harris and Jesse Lerner  for the film These Fragmentations Only Mean ... "In the late 1980s, the artist Noah Purifoy retired from his position of many years on the California Arts Council and moved from Sacramento to a remote desert site just north of Joshua Tree National Park. There, over the last fifteen years of his life, he created a complex series of assemblage sculptures and precarious architectural constructions that sprawl over ten acres of the high desert land, administered by the Noah Purifoy Foundation. With the support of the Noah Purifoy Foundation, this remarkable site is at the center of this documentary project." The full list of grantees is below and at the Graham Foundation site. EXHIBITIONS Florencia Alvarez Pacheco, (Buenos Aires, Argentina) Petra Bachmaier, Sean Gallero, and Iker Gil (Chicago, IL) Nandini Bagchee and Marlisa Wise (New York, NY) Shumi Bose, Emma Letizia Jones, Guillaume Othenin-Girard, and Nemanja Zimonjić (London, United Kingdom and Zürich, Switzerland) Nahyun Hwang and David Eugin Moon (New York, NY) Lap Chi Kwong and Alison Von Glinow (Chicago, IL) Sahra Motalebi (New York, NY) Anna Neimark (Los Angeles, CA) FILM/VIDEO/NEW MEDIA PROJECTS Rodrigo Brum and Sama Waly (Cairo, Egypt) Dani Gal (Berlin, Germany) Sara R. Harris and Jesse Lerner (Los Angeles, CA) Sean Lally (Lausanne, Switzerland)Lisa Malloy and J.P. Sniadecki (Evanston, IL and Redmond, WA) PUBLIC PROGRAMS The Extrapolation Factory: Elliott P. Montgomery and Chris Woebken (New York, NY) Anna Martine Whitehead (Chicago, IL) PUBLICATIONS Pep Avilés and Matthew Kennedy (Mexico City, Mexico and University Park, PA) Andrea Bagnato and Anna Positano (Genoa, Italy and Milan, Italy) Claire Bishop (New York, NY) Anna Bokov (New York, NY) Larry D. Busbea (Tucson, AZ) Sara Jensen Carr (Boston, MA) Beatriz Colomina, Ignacio G. Galán, Evangelos Kotsioris, and Anna-Maria Meister (Munich, Germany; New York, NY; and Princeton, NJ) Elisa Dainese and Aleksandar Staničić (Delft, the Netherlands and Halifax, Canada) Marco Ferrari, Elisa Pasqual, and Andrea Bagnato (Milan, Italy) Natasha Ginwala, Gal Kirn, and Niloufar Tajeri (Berlin, Germany) Vanessa Grossman, Charlotte Malterre-Barthes, and Ciro Miguel (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Zurich, Switzerland) Jeffrey Hogrefe and Scott Ruff (Baldwin, NY and Lancaster, PA) Eric Höweler and Meejin Yoon (Ithaca, NY and Boston, MA) Beth Hughes and Adrian Lahoud (London, United Kingdom and Sydney, Australia) Robert Hutchison (Seattle, WA) Pamela Johnston (London, United Kingdom) Seng Kuan (Cambridge, MA) George Legrady (Santa Barbara, CA) Zhongjie Lin (Philadelphia, PA) Brian McGrath and Sereypagna Pen (New York, NY and Phnom Penh, Cambodia) Lala Meredith-Vula (Leicester, United Kingdom) Ginger Nolan (Los Angeles, CA) Todd Reisz (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) Erin Eckhold Sassin (Middlebury, VT) Steve Seid (Richmond, CA) Katherine Smith (Decatur, GA) Susan Snodgrass (Chicago, IL) Penny Sparke (London, United Kingdom) Mark Wasiuta (New York, NY) Folayemi (Fo) Wilson (Chicago, IL) RESEARCH PROJECTS Miquel Adrià (Mexico City, Mexico) Joshua Barone, Phillip Denny, and Eléonore Schöffer (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY; and Paris, France) Kadambari Baxi (New York, NY) Gauri Bharat (Ahmedabad, India) Santiago Borja (Mexico City, Mexico) Michael Borowski (Blacksburg, VA) Frida Escobedo and Xavier Nueno (Mexico City, Mexico) Assaf Evron and Dan Handel (Chicago, IL and Haifa, Israel) Beate Geissler, Orit Halpern, and Oliver Sann (Chicago, IL and Montréal, Canada) Heather Hart (New York, NY) Alison Hirsch (Pasadena, CA) David J. Lewis, Paul Lewis, and Marc Tsurumaki (New York, NY) Onnis Luque and Mariana Ordóñez (Mexico City, Mexico) Jonathan Mekinda (Chicago, IL) Giovanna Silva (Milan, Italy) Léa-Catherine Szacka (Manchester, United Kingdom) Jessica Vaughn (New York, NY) Edward A. Vazquez (Middlebury, VT)
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Total Transformation

KieranTimberlake's vision for Washington University to open this fall
Sweeping changes are coming this fall to half the urban campus of Washington University in St. Louis. For the past two years, construction has been underway on the 166-year-old institution’s east end—a $280 million vision that includes several new projects by KieranTimberlake for the university’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. The Philadelphia-based firm announced construction was nearly complete on the upcoming Anabeth and John Weil Hall, an 82,000-square-foot space with state-of-the-art graduate studios, classrooms, and digital fabrication labs. Further details were also released on the expansion and renovation of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, which is set to open in late September with a major thematic exhibition by Ai Weiwei. The lower section of the Danforth campus, which sits just behind St. Louis’s largest landscape, Forest Park, will be better connected to the city through these mega-enhancements and will serve as a welcoming entrance for visitors, students, and faculty alike. At the core of the project for the Sam Fox School is Weil Hall, the new hub for all art, design, and architecture programs which were previously scattered in different buildings. The new structure will feature a striking facade with opaque glass walls and vertical aluminum fins that allow natural light into the facilities and promote energy efficiency. Collaborative workspaces and loft-style studios will be arranged throughout but will be connected visually by a luminous, two-story central interior courtyard that will highlight the movement and activity going on within the school. Weil Hall will stand out in clear contrast to its surrounding structures on the southeastern corner of campus. Aligned on a stretch of land with two Beaux-Arts buildings and three seminal projects by former Washington University associate professor Fumihiko Maki (including the Kemper Art Museum), the contemporary structure embodies a new era for the Sam Fox School. KieranTimberlake has also designed an upgraded look for the adjacent Kemper Art Museum, one that complements the school next door and helps it stand out in the surrounding sea of institutional structures. Designed by Maki in 2006, the limestone-clad building will be completely renovated and expanded with a new, 2,700-square-foot gallery and a soaring, glass-lined lobby. It will also boast a shiny new exterior featuring 34-foot-tall stainless steel panels that will reflect the dynamic campus, its landscape, and the sky. Michael Vergason Landscape Architects has created an extensive masterplan for the museum’s grounds and sculpture garden that blends with the firm’s overall vision for the east end of the Danforth Campus. In collaboration with KieranTimberlake, MVLA will transform what’s now a series of parking lots into a car-free park, featuring native plantings and ample pedestrian space.
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Sonic Histories

Artist David Hartt brings multimedia installation to a Frank Lloyd Wright synagogue
David Hartt will be the first artist to intervene in the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Beth Sholom Synagogue, located just outside of Philadelphia, when he installs his multimedia work into the National Historic Landmark this September. Using music, video, sculpture, and other materials, David Hartt: The Histories (Le Mancenillier) will interrogate the histories and presents of Black and Jewish diasporas in the United States and across the world. At the center of the exhibition is the 19th-century American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Born to a Jewish father and Creole mother, Gottschalk left his native New Orleans for Paris to study music at just age 13. Blending European classical musical training with American traditions and Afro-Caribbean song, Gottschalk’s hybrid music predated ragtime and jazz by over half a century, and though relatively little known now, is foundational to music history both in the Americas and globally. Hartt will be traveling to New Orleans and Haiti to capture video and photography in an attempt to understand the impact of Caribbean culture on the music of Gottschalk, who lived across the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Hartt will also be appropriating the visual styles of contemporaneous painters like Martin Johnson Heade, who painted tropical flowers and birds, to create large-scale landscape tapestries that will both change the space visually and acoustically. Video monitors will be set up like figures in the space, with content engaging the synagogue’s architectural peculiarities, and tropical plants will be put into extant planters while orchids will be arranged to capture the leaking rainwater that now filters through the 60-year-old glass-topped sanctuary. It is fitting, then, that the parenthetical part of the title, names a tropical plant—the manchineel tree, nearly every part of which is toxic to humans (the "Histories" portion of the title is after the work of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus). “David’s poetic approach to the built environment reframes familiar ideas about site, history, and identity,” explained Cole Akers, the curator of the exhibition. “His installation in Beth Sholom's Frank Lloyd Wright–designed building will offer unexpected ways to experience the National Historic Landmark and reflect on the site's capacity to hold a generous, porous, and speculative concept of community.” Ethiopian pianist Girma Yifrashewa—who, like Gottschalk, trained in Europe and blends multiple global sonic traditions—will be scoring the exhibition with compositions by Gottschalk that will be played throughout in order to, according to a release from the synagogue's preservation foundation, “transform the space and invite audiences to linger in the immersive environment.” There will be additional musical performances by other artists throughout the exhibition’s run. Hartt's installation will be up from September 11 to December 19, 2019.
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Where There's a Willis

Hank Willis Thomas creates 25-foot-tall Afro pick for 5th Avenue
A new 25-foot-tall statue of an Afro pick now stands outside The Africa Center in East Harlem, New York. All Power to All People, created by conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas, was erected last Friday in its temporary location on 5th Avenue. Designed in collaboration with the Kindred Arts cultural equity initiative, the steel sculpture is intended to honor and celebrate cultural identities of the African diaspora. Thomas worked with fabricator Jeff Schomberg to imagine the larger-than-life Afro pick, which sits at an angle on a black podium and features a handle in the outline of a clenched fist. The design is an iteration of Thomas's 2017 sculpture made with Monument Lab in Philadelphia for Thomas Paine Plaza. In connection with the Afro pick’s distinct cultural and political identity, the piece symbolizes the strength, comradery, and perseverance of the African-American community, as well as the ongoing pursuit for equal rights, justice, and belonging.  Marsha Reid, executive director of Kindred Arts and producer of the project, noted the important location of the installation. “Representation matters,” she said, “and this monumental art is placed here at The Africa Center in the heart of the community, with the purpose of inspiring conversation and facilitating a space where communities might affirm cultural citizenship and freely express identity.” All Power to All People will be on display through July 7, 2019, in the public plaza outside The Africa Center at 1280 Fifth Avenue in New York City. A slew of public programs will coincide with the monumental installation. For more information, visit The Africa Center’s website.
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The High Road

Trail wends through the tree canopy in Michigan's Dow Gardens
In central Michigan, a new walkway is snaking its way through a forest canopy. The elevated trail was designed by Philadelphia-based firm Metcalfe for the Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens, a historic public garden established by Herbert H. Dow, the founder of Dow Chemical, in 1899. The 1,400-foot-long catwalk snakes through the canopy 40 feet above the floor of the 54-acre forest. At various points, trail's solid floor turns into mesh netting that visitors can sit on, floating among the tree trunks. Structures built along the trail create other spaces for reflection and observation to complement other structures on the site, including a playground, visitors' center, café, and educational spaces.