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Lunch Break Brutalism

Landscape Architecture Magazine Ι November 2019  Shane Coen, FASLA, drops by the newly restored Peavey Plaza in downtown Minneapolis every weekend. One of the first things he notices is how many more people can use it. The sunken concrete plaza is now far more accessible for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility, and its formerly 10-inch-deep wading pool is now a quarter inch of mirror-finish water on gran
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At Washington University, A Cluster of New Buildings Enlivens a Neglected Part of Campus

Metropolis Magazine Ι Oct. 18, 2019 A middle-American Oxbridge, the campus of Washington University in St. Louis is staunchly Collegiate Gothic, all nested quads and pink granite buildings. It’s often hard to tell where one building ends and another begins. But traverse the campus to its far eastern edge and this monotony starts to let up: Cloistered space grows porous, and the chisel-and-hammer articulation of stone
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Design for all requires a culture change in architecture

The American Institute of Architects Ι Oct. 14, 2019  In 1978, John Catlin, who’d been a wheelchair user for four years after a spinal injury, began graduate school in architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). In 1973, federal legislation was passed that prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities, including facilities designed, built, altered, or leased with federal funds. The UIC A
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This Conservative City Built a $132 Million Park Using One Weird Trick

The Atlantic’s CityLab Ι Oct. 11, 2019 In the early 1990s, a crisis of confidence—and urbanism—gripped Oklahoma City. Oklahoma’s capital wanted a bustling, active city center that would attract and retain large corporations and the people who would staff them. But the city had mostly been a luckless suitor. Foreshadowing the Amazon HQ2 cage match, in 1991, after a 21-month bidding war, United Airlines rejected
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An Activist Architecture Stirs in Chicago

The Atlantic’s CityLab Ι Oct. 9. 2019 Perhaps the most compelling installation in this year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial doesn’t feature a single architectural model, rendering, or image of buildings (or of anything else). It’s a series of short blocks of text, probing the Chicago police’s killing of Harith Augustus on the city’s South Side in July of last year. The text, white and hung in a matte black gall
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A Floating Lab Aims to Promote a Healthy Marine Habitat in the San Francisco Bay

Autodesk’s Redshift Ι Aug. 29, 2019 From a distance, you could be forgiven for thinking the Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab installation is merely a boat. The vessel is actually a product of the California College of the Arts (CCA) Architectural Ecologies Lab. It’s seaworthy, with a fiberglass hull and oblong shape, but meant for a decidedly nonboating purpose: Rather than slicing through the water, the floating in
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How a Gehry building came back ready for the spotlight

The American Institute of Architects Ι Aug. 21, 2019  In the pantheon of Frank Gehry buildings, his American Center in Paris, completed in 1994, was a decidedly transitional artifact. Gehry was rebuffed from using steel on the building by planners with context-attuned designs for its newly redeveloped district on the banks of the Seine, so instead it’s made of stately masonry. American Center’s rectilinear offices an
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Bamboo Transcends the Tropics for Carbon-Negative Construction

Autodesk’s Redshift Ι Aug. 7, 2019 It can be argued either way: Bamboo is a building material that’s criminally underused in construction or one destined to remain a quirky, regional curio. Long ignored beyond the developing world, bamboo (a grass, not a tree) has the compressive strength of concrete and the tensile strength of steel. Unlike those materials, it sequesters carbon as it grows instead of emitting
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Virgil Abloh’s MCA Exhibition Reveals the Power—and Limits—of Design Disruption

Metropolis Magazine Ι July 15, 2019 Architecture is an attractive medium for the trendsetter-turned-multidisciplinary designer and artist Virgil Abloh. Because buildings are often the face of the establishment, they are ripe targets for subversion—Abloh’s calling card. So it’s no surprise that bits of buildings are strewn throughout Figures of Speech, Abloh’s first solo museum exhibition now open at Chicago’s Museum
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Can This Chicago Apartment Factory Make New Homes Affordable?

The Atlantic’s CityLab Ι July 8, 2019 Skender, an established, family-owned builder in Chicago, is making a serious play in a sector associated with young startups: modular construction. The company is building steel-structured three-flats, a quintessential Chicago housing type that consists of three apartments stacked on top of each other in the footprint of a large house. It believes it can deliver them faste
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