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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

Chicory roots: demolition, displacement and resilience

In the first years of the Covid pandemic, city dwellers returned their attention to the land – not only the relocators who decided to uproot and leave cities entirely, but also folks who began gardening on their rooftops or windowsills, or those who began walking outdoors to take notice of the abundant plant life in their neighbourhoods. I, too, am one of those people who took to small sojourns, taking comfort in learning the scientific names and taxonomies of nearby flora. But where I live in C

Tuning the Choir

To start a nonprofit, you need a very specific set of people, documents, and ideas: lawyers to draft articles of incorporation and tax-exempt status; a board of directors; and a document stating the mission, vision, and values of the organization. It can be a lengthy process, but the procedure to follow is clear. There are boxes to be checked and paperwork to be filed. The steps for building a movement—not just a nonprofit with actionable goals, but a means to bring about tangible, systemic chan

On the Home Front, a Latine Aesthetic’s Ordinary Exuberance

In 2006, as an undergraduate studying Christian sites and relics, I was taken by acts made in the name of transmission: embarking on long pilgrimages to find healing from sites of martyrdom; viewing bodies, clothing, or hair from virtuous beings past to receive their miracles; bringing home statuettes of saints to pass on their powers to family. We preserve these sacred rituals so that they might continue imparting their wisdom, yet these items and expeditions are made by humans and could, in an

The Butterfly Effect | Tamir Rice Memorial Butterfly Garden

A memorial garden for a 12-year-old victim of police violence becomes a springboard for serving generations of children. I arrived at the Marion C. Seltzer Elementary School playground around 11:00 a.m., just before the day’s heat peaked. It was a Friday, and students were making the short commute between the elementary school and the Cudell Recreation Center, located just a stone’s throw northwest. A group of toddlers had gathered with their teachers—likely a preschool daycare—along a bench th

Deem’s symposium gathered presenters with community-oriented practices

The brainworms that grow in your head after being around architects can, after a few years, reshape how you see the world. After sitting through talks and presentations by architects and design professionals—those “do-gooders” who tout low-bono work for the “underserved”—I began to question the word dignity. In design, dignity is too often presented as something to be provided to or conferred upon others; designing low-income housing or public schools gives dignity to those who, presenters seem

Finalists announced for a housing ideas competition in Chicago

Design competitions are a funny exercise: Invite architects to produce thoughtful and visually interesting drawings without compensation, convene a jury to decide which ones are the best, and then write a press release announcing the winners. It’s a relatively commonplace activity used in Chicago that, on one hand, has yielded the Tribune Tower; and on the other, has resulted in thousands of foamcore boards in the dumpster. Earlier this year, when the City of Chicago announced an effort to “repo

A career-spanning show of drawings by James Wines

Our era of the Anthropocene is one of never-ending casualties: Humans perish under “once in a generation” weather events nearly yearly, and species collapse is all around us. Meanwhile, Architecture responds with press releases for new, lavish office towers that undoubtedly reach net-zero status. The renderings show sparklingly clear glass, ready to contribute to the 1 billion birds that die each year from window collisions...

In Debt and in the Dark

Klaire Viduya graduated in May from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with a bachelor’s and a master’s of architecture. Since then, she’s been settling into a job working on education design projects and studying to obtain her license. A first-generation college student and child of working-class immigrants, Viduya found paying for her education challenging. Even though she opted for public school, she was still surprised when she got her first tuition bills. “One thing that I didn’t factor,

For Crows, By Humans

Walter Hood reflects on what corvids can teach us. Crows—although they share a predilection for scavenging human food waste alongside other urban avian “pests” such as pigeons—carry a more mischievous reputation. The National Audubon Society cites their incredible intelligence and documented cases of the birds using tools, holding grudges, and performing funerals. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Walter Hood, the creative director and founder of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, California, bega
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