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What the “Whole Earth Catalog” Taught Me About Building Utopias

What the “Whole Earth Catalog” Taught Me About Building Utopias My mother threw away her copy of the Whole Earth Catalog long before I was born. Having endured so much use, it was in shreds, she tells me as I sit in the kitchen of her home near Golden, Colorado. She first purchased the manual when she was 14, growing up in the flower children era. She was deeply drawn to it, calling herself a devotée, she says, “because of the zeitgeist I was unconsciously a part of: that whole Aquarian Age,”

ADUs Might Not Be Making Chicago More Affordable, But They Might Make It More Sustainable

There hasn’t exactly been an explosion of new accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in Chicago since its city council passed an ADU pilot ordinance in 2020, which allows for new coach houses and basement or attic renovations to add additional units in certain parts of the city. The ordinance intends to allow homeowners to make multigenerational living arrangements or extra income with their existing property; proponents also advocated for ADUs as a means to build more affordable housing—a principle ye

A New Website Is Trying to Convince You That Housing Can Be “Awesome and Affordable”

While working for Los Angeles radio station KCRW, Frances Anderton, who hosted the popular show DnA: Design and Architecture from 2002 to 2020, would frequently speak with proponents and opponents of ballot initiatives and design projects that promoted higher-density apartments. During those interviews, she noticed something particular: Even those firmly set in the "YIMBY" camp seemed to express a quiet disdain for multifamily housing. "I would get an undertone in the conversation—there is a h

Retrospective: Theaster Gates

To sanctify a place, you might call a priest. Perhaps they would throw some holy water on it, anoint it with oil, or build an ornate palace for prayer. But for Theaster Gates, making a place sacred begins with repair; the holiness of a place is evidenced by care. Since the late 1990s, the Chicago‑based potter, performance artist and urban planner has created an empire out of materials and sites that speak to the Black experience, Black places and Black objects – to great international acclaim.

Norman Teague draws inspiration from John Coltrane’s masterpiece

In these days of violence and uncertainty, I’ve been seeking gratitude. As such I’ve returned to Wendell Berry’s It All Turns on Affection—a brief but profound book that calls for a turn away from an aspirational economy driven by technology and back to caring for the land around us. Affection, I believe, requires gratitude—for what we have and for what goodness the future could bring. When Berry asks us to redirect our collective attention to another way of being in the world, one based on devo

Is Rent Getting Cheaper in 2024? It's Complicated

Though the latter half of 2023 showed cooling rental markets after a pandemic spike, a new report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) has peeled back the layers of the United States’ housing crisis, connecting rent affordability with increases in unhoused populations. Published last week, America’s Rental Housing 2024 takes the temperature of recent fluctuations in the rental market, reporting changes in the number of those who are rent-burdened and those who are experiencing

After the NFL, Michael Bennett Finds a New Career in Furniture Design

Michael Bennett has always been an artist. The former Seattle Seahawks defensive end and 2013 Super Bowl champ spent much of his youth in constant discipline, channeling what he calls, "the duality of the body and mind." For Bennett, athleticism is an artistic practice, coordinating between bodies in space and time—though that space was usually a large stadium filled with fans, marked by a countdown clock. But over the past four years, he has been expanding this practice to explore the mind-body

How to Keep New York’s Floating Swimming Pool From Being an Island for the Rich

As of this month, New Yorkers are officially, after 14 years, closer than ever to swimming in the East River—legally and safely, of course. The + POOL, a first-of-its-kind floating urban swimming pool, has had a long history of fits, starts, and development , as Dwell chronicled recently. But when Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the project would receive a whopping $16 million of state and local funding to bring it to fruition, architect Dong-Ping Wong —who conceived of the floating urban a

I Can’t Stop Thinking About the Dystopian Hotel in “A Murder at the End of the World”

Earlier this month, the internet paused to gawk at Mark Zuckerburg’s newest creation—not updates to his legless virtual fantasy world, but instead, a more critical look into his $100 million residential ‘compound.’ In particular, Wired took a deep-dive into the project, and found the residence will include a 5,000-square foot underground lair equipped with "energy and food supplies," making us all suspect that Zuck is readying himself for the end of the world. Perhaps it’s the hubris of a man wh

An Almost 14-Year Timeline of New York City’s Hypothetical Floating Pool

Good things come to those who wait, but as climate change heats up our cities, breaking record temperatures year after year, how long should we wait for a swimming pool? For + POOL, that would be, well, nearly 14 years. An open-air pool designed to float on New York City’s East River that would provide much-needed water recreation while also filtering hundreds of thousands of gallons of polluted water into "swimmable" quality, so much time has passed since the project’s public introduction one w

Would Blocking Private Equity From Buying Homes Really Fix the Housing Shortage?

It is becoming increasingly harder to own a home in America. That is, unless you’re private equity. In recent years, companies have been buying up the nation’s housing supply unchecked, with Wall Street becoming a leading buyer in the single-family market. According to a report from Stateline, nearly 22 percent of single-family home purchases were made by corporate entities within the past year. CNBC claims that by 2030, institutional investors will own nearly 40 percent of the nation’s single-f

Charcoal, Mushrooms, and More Become Building Parts for a South Chicago Artist Residency

Close to the Illinois–Indiana border, where Chicago’s steelyards once churned out the materials that built modern America, now sits a bustling 14-acre urban farm. Nestled in the South Chicago neighborhood within Clara D. Schafer Park, the site is one of eight farms operated by Urban Growers Collective (UGC). The organization has produced more than 19,000 pounds of fresh produce this year to serve residents living under food apartheid, a term used to describe systemic, segregation access to nutri

HUD Finds Discrimination in Chicago’s Public Housing Development

In a letter reported on by the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) detailed the findings of a recent probe into the city’s affordable housing development practices. According to the Sun-Times, HUD found that the city has wrongly denied the development of new affordable housing through the tool of "aldermanic prerogative." A hotly contested reality for all Chicagoans, aldermanic prerogative effectively enables alderpeople to veto afforda

Discover Chicago’s layered history

Early one morning I stood on what might be the last undeveloped piece of land in the Loop’s radius. The site of the forthcoming DuSable Park is, currently, a soil mound bursting with prairie life located where the Chicago River punctures Lake Michigan’s mouth. This, says architect Ryan Gann, who is working with Ross Barney Architects on the upcoming park’s design, is where Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable’s property, composed of nine buildings, would have once stood. The mound now hosts nine informa

New York City Might… Pay You to Build an ADU?

In a new initiative that launched this week, New York City residential building owners could begin receiving financial support to construct new accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The Plus One ADU pilot program provides up to $395,000 to up to 15 eligible single-family homeowners seeking to add a small home to their property by creating a detached unit, basement unit, attic unit, or garage property, or by rehabbing an existing basement unit. According to a New York Times story, the program will ta

“The Curse” Demolishes the HGTV Fantasy

Home improvement television operates from a place of fantasy, where even those of us trapped by financial woes or negligent landlords can play dress-up in others’ whims and desires. Will that new kitchen help tidy up this lonely bachelor’s life, eventually attracting his new soulmate? That’s his fantasy, and watching his home transform, it becomes ours, too. The Curse, a new 10-episode Showtime series, dwells in the familiar space of HGTVesque fantasy, mixed with the particular brand of cringe

Uneven playing fields: untold stories of starting a practice

When established architects speak of their practice’s beginnings, they often speak of the recession‑driven layoffs that led to opening their own studio, or their disillusionment with corporate firm life. Through hard work and diligent financial management, they built their practice from the ground up. We love that story: an underdog story, a narrative of triumph and overcomings. Few practice founders, however, communicate the conditions in which they were able to begin their businesses; personal

Biennial as experimentation

In 2017, a barge drifted along the Chicago River. It wasn’t carrying the usual Ozinga concrete or gravel; instead it floated a museum. Produced by the Floating Museum, an interdisciplinary collective comprised of architect Andrew Schachman, artists Faheem Majeed and Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford, and poet avery r. young, the museum barge showcased artwork from dozens of local and national artists. But for those lingering along the Chicago Riverwalk, the barge’s approach was announced by song: every

St. Louis Brick by Brick

To understand the history of St. Louis’s bricks is to unearth systems of power, economy, dispossession, decline, and manifest destiny; the storybook decorative brickwork we see today becomes a tale as complex—and as sinister—as American history itself. St. Louis is startling in its brickwork. Every home, it seems, is built from similar rust-colored bricks. Sometimes I wonder if, just as you can see the lights of New York and Chicago from the International Space Station, if you’d also be able to

Los Angeles Is Giving Away Plans for a Pre-Approved ADU

Last week, the City of Los Angeles rolled out a new tool to address the city’s housing crisis. The You ADU, designed by Lehrer Architects and Kadre Architects, is a one-bedroom accessory dwelling unit engineered to be built inexpensively and extensively across the city, providing an opportunity to densify single-family home lots. The design is "pre-approved" using the city’s Standard Plan Program: Developed in 2021 by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LDBS) alongside the city’s
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