Today’s News - Tuesday, June 16, 2020

●  Kimmelman minces no words in calling the AIA on the carpet re: its statement "expressing solidarity with protesters. That's good to hear. So - how about stop repeating that it's OK by you for architects to design racially biased prisons - they should not contribute their expertise to a system that commits exceptional violence against African-Americans and other minorities. The least the AIA can do now is agree."

●  Kate Wagner delves into (mincing now words) re: her term "PR-chitecture" to call "attention to how designers and brands were using the coronavirus pandemic to promote themselves and their increasingly bizarre and ridiculous roster of solutions under the cover of 'good design.' It's architecture for the click economy. It dumbs architecture down" and "reinforces architecture's worst impulses: hero worship, technocracy, and elitism" (she names names).

●  Batcho delves into how Sweden's political concept Folkhem could be "an economic and political blueprint for a more just and sustainable future" that would "suspend opposing forces in complementary tension and interdependence" and bring out "the productive best of each - a nonaggression social pact between the Few and the Many."

●  Wainwright points out some major issues with the mayor of Middlesbrough's big plans to build a "Teesside Silicon Valley," beginning with an office tower that "looks like something from a cut-price Gotham City." Sayeth the mayor: "I've ignored the development frameworks and master plans - we have to make stuff happen. Then we'll start planning" (uh-oh).

●  Kamin cheers the opening of Chicago's Lakefront Trail - now, "let's reimagine biking to work. Somewhere in urban planning heaven, a smile is spreading across the mustachioed mug of Daniel Burnham. It's time to think big - a moment of tremendous possibility in the ongoing story of Chicago as 'Paris on the Prairie.'"

●  Morgan revisits P+W's 1972 "concrete behemoth," the Community College of Rhode Island - "a significant landmark worthy or our notice, and even veneration - the most remarkable thing is that it was built at all - not what you would call warm and fuzzy, but it has provided [CCRI] with a dramatic and ionic architectural landmark."

●  Alan Jones returns to his post as RIBA president, and "looks to put scandal behind him. In his 'I'm back on the job' apology letter, he more or less came clean and confirmed some of the allegations that had emerged during his leave."

●  ICYMI: ANN feature: Christopher Alexander: Lesson Plan #9: Ideas on Architectural Education: Schools of architecture have not found ways of teaching the art of building that is effective. We want, collectively, to make architectural teaching better, and through that, to make architecture better.

Of protests, racism, and urban issues - the industry responds:

●  HKS London's Alfonso Padro: "It's time to turn words into action. The combined impact of the covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests has, quite rightly, put equality firmly back on the agenda - the shocking lack of diversity is holding us back" (and why the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust is so vital).

●  Lamster: "How to suture a Dallas divided by racism. Active reform can begin with the frank admission that the design of the city has been an instrumental means for controlling black and brown bodies. That is a fact of American urban history - there are a number of immediate steps to become a more equitable place."

●  An "anti-racist architecture manifesto" by WAI Architecture Think Tank: "Architects should be aware of the programs of the buildings they design and be held accountable. They talk about reforming prisons, creating sustainable concentration camps and outlining 'community-oriented' buildings for policing. In their obstinate naiveté, they refuse to acknowledge the racist, colonial, and oppressive legacies of these archetypes."

COVID-19 news continues:

●  The Canada Green Building Council releases "its industry perspective on how strategic investment in green building could play a significant role in re-igniting Canada's economy" with recommendations that "target three key areas of investment."

●  Brasuell brings us the third installment of "an ongoing, curated list of a particularly contemporary genre of urbanism punditry. Maybe the public health crisis and the ensuing economic crisis, planted the seeds for a profound shift in the ways that planners, designers, engineers, and politicians reckon with the racist and discriminatory pasts of their professions. Maybe."

●  KPMB's Shirley Blumberg: "Place this pandemic alongside climate change, pollution, inequity - and once again architects and city planners are called upon to respond to urgent societal challenges - tectonic shifts in our design culture are already underway" (per Aalto, "we should always design for the person in the weakest position").

●  Chava Gourarie looks at how cities are rethinking their use of public space in a post-COVID future: "Many streetscape changes have been done - either through design or through bureaucratic methods - not only because the pandemic has given us a tremendous opportunity to envision other possibilities, but because there will be consequences if they don't."

●  Moore makes the case for letting "children reclaim the streets for a summer of outdoor play after their pandemic privations - its loss is at least as big a deprivation as that of schooling" + "The exhilarating dunking" of the Edward Colston statue "has caused waves of reaction so predictable that they could have been written by artificial intelligence programs."

●  A new report makes the case that "Canada needs to create a new national entity that houses the best available quantitative and qualitative data on cities - a Canadian urban policy observatory highlighting opportunities for shared problem solving."


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