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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

Gone Feral

A review of Natura Urbana: Ecological Constellations in Urban Space by Matthew Gandy. There are more than 30,000 vacant lots in the city of Chicago—remnants of urban renewal’s disastrous execution and disinvestment. Where buildings once stood, acres of new life have emerged. Many of those empty lots have become overgrown—small prairies where remnants of building foundations peek out from plots of seeding grasses; thick, tender lamb’s-quarter; and purple flowering chicory. The lots are home to r

Reconsidering Public Housing in America

The National Public Housing Museum is pluralizing the program’s mythic narrative When Lisa Yun Lee brought some early visitors to the former Jane Addams Homes in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood—the future site of the National Public Housing Museum (NPHM)—the site was derelict, vacant since the low-rise public housing development was shuttered in 2002. The painted walls had peeled, leaving cracks and paint chips in the rooms. “People would look at it and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s so beautif

American Framing exposes nation’s long-concealed construction method

I went to Wrightwood 659 to find America. Not like Paul Simon—it wasn’t a regional trek from Saginaw with Kathy. We can’t smoke on buses anymore, anyway. Instead, I boarded the 66 headed east and transferred to the 8 at Halstead to view an exhibition at the gallery: American Framing. The show was originally mounted last year as the Pavilion of the United States at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale and afterward traveled (also not by Greyhound) to the Tadao Ando–designed gallery tucked away o

Chicago’s INVEST South/West yields early initial projects, but not without communication breakdowns along the way

The City of Chicago calls ISW a “global model for urban revitalization.” According to a press release from November 2021, there has been approximately $1.4 billion in investments so far, including $750 million in city funds, $575 million in corporate and philanthropic commitments, and $300 million in planned mixed-use projects. Accounting for the last figure is a series of RFPs issued by the city over the past two years to developers and architects for the redevelopment of sites along commercial

Climate Migration: Imagining adaptable infrastructures as Latin America prepares for an increase in environmental refugees

Infrastructure, in conventional imaginations, exists as a tool of permanence: bridges, roads, sidewalks, and utilities are eternal public goods. Climate change has challenged that reality; extreme, less predictable climates have generated new discourses in adaptation and flexibility as core components of infrastructural resilience in the face of uncertain futures. Design Critics in Urban Planning and Design, Soledad Patiño and Felipe Vera are approaching the notion of adaptable, flexible

Designing More Welcoming Streets? Bring in the Teens

This story was produced by City Bureau and co-published by the Chicago Reader. On a chilly Saturday morning in November, a dozen teens packed into a repurposed storefront in Austin, a neighborhood in the city’s Far West Side. The storefront sits across from a stretch of Chicago Avenue that is peppered with vacant lots –– sparse teeth in an otherwise toothless grin of long-lost buildings. Inside, the walls were covered with sketches, drawings, and layers of colorful sticky notes. Jacara Walker,

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture’s expansion of the Steppenwolf Theatre brings the backstage to the house

Spending closing night of A Christmas Carol in the company of theater geeks—but not being one myself—I watched enviously as my peers galloped and hollered at the cast party in our high school theater backstage. They navigated around strange machineries, like lights and scaffolds and a forest of ropes dangling from ethereal catwalks, disappearing behind doors to reemerge on stage; they knew where all the trapdoors were. Theaters, I learned from this close vantage, are places for architectural mag

A neighborhood rink in the (co)making

According to firm founder Jeanne Gang, the roller rink is “one of a number of outcomes of our larger Neighborhood Activation project in West Garfield Park,” which include physical improvements to pedestrian infrastructure, tree plantings, and general beautification, as well as services like homeless outreach and violence prevention. As important as the rink itself is the architecture firm’s forthcoming "Neighborhood Action Playbook," a booklet that documents the firm’s community engagement proc

Commit to the Crit: The Chicago Architecture Biennial

Earlier this summer, the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development announced that it had formed a Committee on Design from a volunteer coterie of architects, developers, and academics, who will collectively assess development proposals. The initiative had the veneer of a boring legislative body, and yet I was startled as I scanned the list of members. The architect Jeanne Gang stood out, as did a trio of artists: Nick Cave, Theaster Gates, and there at the bottom, Amanda Williams. To me, the move represents a bureaucratization of those with good ideas—with skills and tools and connections to communities and critical practices.

The 2021 edition of Exhibit Columbus asks “What Is the Future of the Middle City?”

Exhibit Columbus: New Middles – From Main Street to Megalopolis, What is the Future of the Middle City? Columbus, Indiana Open through November 28, 2021 On the four-hour drive from Chicago to Columbus, Indiana, romance and romanticization were squarely on my mind. I had heard about the Columbus mythos, in which corporate generosity made the place into a modernist mecca of the Midwest. For an architect of Eero Saarinen’s standing, or his protégé Kevin Roche, Columbus presented itself as an i
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