Today’s News - Thursday, February 13, 2020

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tomorrow and Monday will be no-newsletter days. We'll be back Tuesday, February 18.

●  ANN feature: Design Workshop's MacRae & Ficht offer three trends in landscape architecture that they see growing this year: converting antiquated roadways into green infrastructure systems; addressing cultural and ecological inequities; and tackling air quality as part of climate change.

●  Kamin cheers a "beautifully remade" former Chicago public housing project that he wants to "label a great success," but is it - when it will have 525 fewer affordable units.

●  The New York Botanical Gardens has "backed away" from plans to build a housing/hotel project in the Bronx "in favor of a project that's more closely aligned with the needs of the neighborhood" - instead, it will be affordable housing (no architect named).

●  The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, on the other hand, is in a "Fight for Sunlight" after the NYC mayor gets behind a massive mega-project that the BBG fears would cause "serious injury to its collection of rare and exotic plants - a result of shadows cast by the development's 39-story towers."

●  Mortice delves into designing affordable housing in African American neighborhoods, and how "architects navigate class, race, identity, and community in a privatized system - many don't think we can deal with today's housing crisis - let alone tomorrow's - in the current policy regime."

Speaking of African-American neighborhoods - it's Black History Month

●  The Library of Congress offers fab photographer Camilo J. Vergara's fab archive of images of African American communities going back to the 1970s "that bear witness to discrimination, hardship, perseverance, ingenuity and pride."

●  A look at "10 Black architects whose work has shaped America" - despite "extreme disadvantages. Their recognition is long overdue."

●  A Q&A with Francis Kéré re: "insights into his creative process, preferred materials, and the importance of education."

●  "Hollywood's Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story" is a new feature-length documentary about his "wildly prolific career," now on PBS channels and streaming online.

More meditations on the "Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again" draft executive order

●  Betsky says the mandate is "misguided - quality matters more than style. Let Trump have his GRFC columns and pediments. Good architects can use any style. Let's argue for openness, sustainability, and the deep beauty that comes from building truly democratic structures instead."

●  Gutschow of Carnegie Mellon mulls "why so many architects are angered" by the order: "As a historian of modern architecture, I share their suspicions" - the classical style doesn't always symbolize democratic ideals of self-governance - restricting designs to one particular style rejects the diverse tastes and ideals of the American people."

●  Phineas Harper of the U.K.'s Architecture Foundation is "a defender of traditional architecture" - but ponders: "What ethical blind spots have allowed the arguments of traditional architecture to be co-opted by political extremists? For too long, fans of traditional architecture have ignored the darker side of our movement."

●  Postrel ponders "the faux populism of Trumpified architecture" that "replaces one set of insiders with an even snootier one" - the National Civic Art Society's "formerly obscure views are now enjoying the world's largest megaphone - classicism itself is no guarantee of good civic architecture."

●  Casey is glad that "San Antonio's new federal courthouse is well underway," else "it might have to be radically redrawn. Should Texans be restricted to structures that require Corinthian columns and arches? Why not also require our state senators to wear togas?"

Weekend diversions:

●  A good reason to head to Phoenix next week: the 13th annual Meeting of the Minds summit - "the best place to find actionable, replicable, and scalable solutions to urban challenges, and to build the partnerships needed for their implementation."

●  Evan Nicole Brown explains "why architecture should have won a best supporting role in 'Parasite'" for being "an extraordinary study in how our built environments create narratives - using design as an allegory for class tension and human fallibility."

●  Jung tells the fascinating story of how the dwellings in "Parasite" were "built from scratch - four different sets mixed together in postproduction. Much like the movie itself, a minimalist façade belies a devilish complexity - and shows us how foolish we were to have been lulled by its beauty."

●  Wainwright has a great conversation with "the seer of sizzling city architecture" Koolhaas, prior to his "Countryside, The Future" opening at the Guggenheim, who "explains his epiphany" (a brothel outside of Reno involved): "Is this epic exhibition his swan song? 'Am I going to retire?' he barks, incredulously, before changing the subject to a new kind of tractor" (video trailer included).

●  Marcus Field cheers "Art Deco By The Sea" at the U.K.'s at the Sainsbury Centre that "feeds our hunger for glam" and "that gloriously optimistic design movement that revolutionised British holiday resorts" (great pix!).


●  Budds considers Chayka's "The Longing for Less: Living With Minimalism" that traces how the term "has become an 'oppressive gospel' - what was once a useful concept for provoking mindfulness has become a superficial style," and explores "how we might establish a healthier relationship with it."

●  Welton x 2: He talks to Kamin, who "credits an art history course at Amherst College for turning his head toward architecture criticism," about his latest tome "Amherst College: The Campus Guide." is designed to be read at home or taken out for a stroll around by Ralph Lieberman is crisp, telling and descriptive...It may have started small, but it would eventually soar - architecturally and academically.

●  He continues his conversation with Kamin re: his new book about Amherst that "paints a telling picture of his alma mater."


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