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Decoding Oppression in Architecture: Design as a Tool for Social Justice

Oct. 24, 2017 Ι Redshift In the years since the Great Recession cratered the steel and glass fantasies of a generation of architects, architecture centered around social justice has gained salience and ever-loftier pedestals. But while architects speak of aspirational ways that design can inspire people to be better, more empathetic citizens, design often does the exact opposite: oppress and marginalize. Often applie
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Experimental City: The Sci-Fi Utopia That Never Was

Oct. 17, 2017 Ι CityLab To forestall the continuing growth of cities as “cancerous organisms,” the Minnesota Experimental City (MXC) was conceived in the mid-1960s by epochal technologist Athelstan Spilhaus. A modular settlement of 250,000 people or more, the city was to be powered by clean energy and run on public transit. Experimental City would be a tabula rasa—a place to begin anew, free from the constraints and
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Photo by Lee Bey.

Architecture Beyond the A-List

October 12, 2017 Ι CityLab Away from the main exhibit of the Chicago Architecture Biennial—the country’s biggest architecture festival, on show through January—there are a half-dozen smaller “anchor” shows, hosted by neighborhood arts organizations far from downtown. These reveal a different side to Chicago’s architectural legacy, famed for the White City of 1893, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the rational Modernism of Mie
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Frank Lloyd Wright Was a Proto-Algorithmic Architect

Metropolis Ι Oct. 12, 2017 Frank Lloyd Wright’s field of influence is so wide, it’s hard to tell where it starts and ends. As America’s foremost architect, he helped popularize design concepts that are held up as evidence of progressive values and progressive architecture. His notion of building with natural landscapes takes on new meaning in the era of low-carbon energy efficiency. His penchant for incorporating loc
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Machine Learning Eases Construction Project Management—and Prevents Catastrophes

Redshift Ι Oct. 2, 2017  In the fragmented building industry, “every single building is a prototype,” says Dustin Hartsuiker, manager of Technology Solutions for the California-based Swinerton Builders. Devoid of standardization and often assembled from custom-made components, buildings are unforgiving and inefficient experiments in fabrication, given to levels of risk and uncertainty unheard of in the world of produ
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From Filth to Fun: Big Designs for the Chicago River

CityLab Ι Sept. 29. 2017 Until its direction was reversed in 1900, the Chicago River was such a receptacle for effluent and filth that it poisoned Chicagoans’ beloved Lake Michigan (from which they drew their drinking water). Then it was channelized and entombed in concrete. The river has long been the city’s forgotten waterfront. But that’s steadily changing, as the last decade has seen sections of the Chicago River
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Could the Humble Heat Pump be a Decarbonization Hero?

Doggerel Ι Sept. 6. 2017 Buildings are responsible for a bit fewer than half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US. Break this figure down further and you’ll find that building heating, in particular, accounts for about a fifth of all US greenhouse gas emissions. Building heating and hot water are a part of the climate change story people often miss, according to Jeffrey Schwane. An engineer in Arup’s New York of
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Fire Tests Enable New Timber Typologies

Doggerel Ι August 23, 2017 After a long time lost in the woods, architects and engineers are rediscovering timber. Wood has been a default building material for millennia. Historically, one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep buildings standing upright was to fell large trees and shape them into load-bearing beams and columns. This changed in the 20th century, when the pliable possibilities of concrete and
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Office Visit: Craighton Berman

Doggerel Ι June 29, 2017  For Microsoft, illustrator and industrial designer Craighton Berman created a primer on artificial intelligence. Over a few dozen pages, his breezy little booklet used talking dogs and clunky retro-robots to explain the basics of a technology that’s fueled sci-fi dystopias and utopian TED talks alike. It was a zine in the humble indie bookstore tradition, but it premiered at the World Econom
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The Final Hill

Landscape Architecture Magazine Ι October 2017  The first thing you notice is all the cars. The are a strange landscape divided by Jersey barriers and concrete retaining walls that carve up the site’s topography. Endless rows of cars are parked along its curving streets and in front of 62 three- and four-story barracks-style buildings that plod down the steep hill. It’s the first indication that this isolated, often
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