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Architectural Upcycling Builds Earth’s Better Future Out of Trash

Redshift Ι Aug. 1, 2017 Contemporary designers are recycling waste materials into useable and well-crafted objects, and it’s easy to get the impression that this burgeoning realm of fabrication is destined only for the craft fair. A quick survey of Blaine Brownell’s new guide Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials That Redefine Our Future turns up a half-dozen Etsy-ready art and furniture curios. There’s jewelry
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What Facebook Can Learn From Company Towns

CityLab Ι July 19, 2017  In the early 20th century, hundreds of company towns dotted America—quasi-public municipalities where the corporation you worked for built your house, taught your kids, maintained your roads and sewers, and even sold you groceries. Such towns once contained 3 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Economist. As the country’s workforce became more mobile and prosperity rose, on-site
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Here Comes Chicago’s Architecture Bonanza

CityLab Ι June 29, 2017 In 2015, Chicago launched the largest contemporary architecture event in North America—the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Staged at multiple sites around the city (including the lakefront) and drawing more than half a million visitors over three months, it was a wide shotgun blast in terms of content, with techno-psychedelic body-horror sketches, demonstrations of material fabrication, and soc
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Morningstar

Contract Magazine Ι May 31, 2017 Morningstar’s new floor for its Chicago-based digital product developers places a premium on movement—the movement of its 190 team members as they get up from their desks for frequent standing meetings, the movement of mobile sit-stand desks that allow employees to take their workstations with them, and the movement of wide sliding glass doors that let every meeting room spill out int
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Perpetual Neglect: The Preservation Crisis of African-American Cemeteries

Places Journal Ι May 30, 2017 In late February, Raphael Morris pulled his car onto the gravel path just off St. Louis Avenue in northern St. Louis County, and saw something he’d hoped was a thing of the past: a large pile of garbage dumped in Greenwood Cemetery, near where he grew up and where several family members are buried. Morris is president of the Greenwood Cemetery Preservation Association and has been workin
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Augmented Reality in Construction Lets You See Through Walls

Redshift Ι May 5, 2017  Imagine you’re part of a crew constructing a new office building: Midway through the process, you’re on-site, inspecting the installation of HVAC systems. You put on a funny-looking construction helmet and step out of the service elevator. As you look up, there’s a drop ceiling being installed, but you want to know what’s going on behind it. Through the visor on your helmet, you pull up the Bu
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Making the case for wooden buildings

Doggerel Ι April 21, 2017 Walk into the cavernous atrium of the National Building Museum a few blocks north of DC’s National Mall, and you’ll find a piece of wood whose scale rivals the 75-foot-tall, 8-foot-diameter masonry columns it sits next to. This 64-foot-tall plank, which the curators of the current exhibit Timber City have dubbed “The Pylon,” floats next to another 40-foot-long, 10-foot-tall section called “T
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How One Design Plan Could Relieve Food-Security Problems and Revive Post Offices

Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) is the epicenter of the nation’s largest semipermanent homeless population, and—predictably—a startlingly high rate of food insecurity. The neighborhood is also home to many restaurants and businesses that haul away tons of food waste. According to San Bernardino County Sun, L.A. County generates 4,000 to 6,000 tons of food waste every day (most of it ending up in landfills), a
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Weaponizing Architecture

Aug. 14, 2008 Ι AIArchitect Blog   [This was a blog post, no longer online, I wrote for AIArchitect’s blog back in 2008. It was for a theme issue on fantasy and speculative architecture. But today I learned there’s a company out there, aided and abetted by the Trump Administration, that wants to make it real; as real as the dystopia it’s getting harder and harder to convince myself we’re not h
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An Affordable Housing Development Ascends From Ashes to Build Community

Redshift Ι March 13, 2017  For Victor Body-Lawson of architect-and-planning firm Body Lawson Associates (BLA), designing and building the Hunts Point Peninsula is less like designing a building and more like building a village. “We think of it as building a community,” Body-Lawson says. The new affordable housing development—located in the South Bronx, New York City—seeks to do more than put a roof over peoples’ head
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