S K Y L I N E | 10 | Corona & Cooperatives, Street Life & Overcoming Bully Urbanism

The Week Ahead

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Happy Daylight Savings. With the vaccine rollout and increased dose of sunshine, we can finally emerge from hermit life. How nice!

Last week we shared some articles from the early pandemic days. We have a couple more for you today.

‘In case you were wondering when it’s time to start paying attention to this Coronavirus thing and how it could affect you, that time is now,’ one prominent and well-respected member of our community announced on February 24 wrote ERIC ROGERS for Issue 11 last May, in ‘Not the Crisis We Were Expecting,’ recounting how the 300 communal households in the Bay Area adapted to a threat that tested their commitment to communal living. We have seen crises before. We’ve been planning for another inevitable recession, political dissensus and strife, earthquakes and electrical fires…. our communes offered a resilience that private life could not: by pooling knowledge, skills, financial resources and care, we have been able to weather all kinds of storms. The same is likely to be true of the current crisis, but only time will tell.

“Unlike other kinds of crisis, our social dynamism, high density and large households have meant a higher risk of exposure,” writes Rogers - drawing by Amelyn Ng

In that same issue, I gave a shout out to one of my top three favorite Scorsese films, After Hours, in an essay on missing the chaos of street life. Check it out for some cool archival photos, like this one of a nineteenth century sponge peddler, too.

More articles from our archive to come next week. Stay tuned.

As always, scroll down for a listing of this week’s events. There will be much talk about the potential of speculative architecture—particularly, in a week-long symposium at Yale on Retrofuturisms, and a discussion with Olalekan Jeyifous and Brandi T. Summers at Berkeley.

Get in touch if you’d like to write up an event for SKYLINE: editor@nyra.nyc.

Alex Klimoski

Have a hot take? Read something you liked? Write a letter to the editor. We will start including them in our weekly SKYLINE.


3/10: Contagious Divides
Speaking on bodies, space, and forms of governance in the context of health and race for RICE SoA’s spring lecture series, NAYAN SHAH gave a brief genealogy of public health and its impacts on urban environments, particularly Chinatowns in the United States. According to Shah, racial and class differences have been woven into policies and perspectives about health security. Chinatowns—loci of the rising anti-Asian violence ignited by today’s pandemic—are but one spatialized form of these systemic biases. “The sourcing and racializing of disease” are strategies of displacing blame that will “never solve the problem of infection.” Shah called upon architects and designers to “challenge the ideas about how people and pathogens are put together.” Society will face “a reckoning with living and dying in a variety of different ways,” he said. “We’ll need to see how we’re going to incorporate that into our lives—or if we’ll enter the 2020s desperately trying to forget it all.” Nicholas Raap

3/11: Gardening as Political Practice
“Simply planting more vegetation because it is green doesn’t necessarily contribute to cleaner air,” said JENNIFER GABRYS during her lecture Vegetal Sensors: How to Construct Air Quality Gardens at UVA. Showing a series of air-quality gardens planted in the center of London, Gabrys asked her audience to reconsider the relationship between humans and our environments. These gardens—or “vegetal sensors—have an “iterative relationship” with digital sensing networks set up by citizen scientists or local authorities, producing data to better understand and combat air pollution. Working to create “less hazardous, more collaborative environments,” her project Citizen Sense has created a Phyto-Sensor Toolkit to “suggest feasible citizen reactions within intractable political processes.” In walking through the how-to-guide and her hope for its utility, Gabrys remarked that “cultivation is often an expression of power,” and therefore, “gardening becomes a political practice to cultivate more breathable worlds along with more-than-humans.” Nicholas Raap

3/12: Overcoming Bully Urbanism
At a symposium organized by GSAPP professor HIBA BOU AKAR, leading urbanists reconsidered the field of urban planning from “postcolonial, decolonial, and abolitionist perspectives.” University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Professor of Urban and Regional Planning FARANAK MIRAFTAB espoused an ethos of “humane urbanism” rooted in “radical care” as an antidote to the “winner-takes-all” character of conventional “bully urbanism.” Making connections between colonial-era land theft, entrenched planning practices, and contemporary struggles, UCLA Professor of Urban Planning ANANYA ROY advocated seizing the current pandemic to “mobilize the police power of the state for the protection of human life rather than the protection of property.” Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at Texas A&M DR. ANDREA ROBERTS pointed to the legacy of post-Civil War Freedom Colonies to “facilitate a re-worlding of Black places” within the context of historic preservation. And UPenn Assistant Professor AKIRA DRAKE RODRIGUEZ drew together tensions between cities as sites of “accumulation’ and “socio-economic mobility” to point out how public policy in Philadelphia fuels urban displacement. The wide-ranging discussions, too many to mention here, ultimately hinted at the equally diverse methodologies necessary to bring about the conference’s aims. Antonio Pacheco


Monday, March 15

Retrofuturisms Symposium
1:00pm, Yale

Piggybacking Practices: A Symposium on Architecture and Inequality
4:00pm, Fay Jones School Of Architecture And Design

Nader Tehrani
6:00pm, GSAPP

Tuesday, March 16

Designing Lightness: Structures for Saving Energy
12:00pm, AIA New York

Opportunity Zones: A Baseline Evaluation in West Baltimore
1:15pm, GSAPP

Fight or Flight? Pathways from Around the World
6:00pm, AIA New York

Retrofuturisms Symposium
6:30pm, Yale

Ruth DeFries: What Would Nature Do?
7:00pm, GSAPP

Trần Thị Ngụ Ngôn: Brick and Tropical Architecture
7:30pm, Cornell

Wednesday, March 17

Olalekan Jeyifous + Brandi T. Summers: (Im)Permanence, Improvisation, and Our Absurdist Future
1:00pm, Berkeley

Why Architecture Belongs in the Museum: Ricardo Daza
5:00pm, Canadian Centre For Architecture

Living with Sky, Water and Mountain: A Path Towards Freedom
6:00pm, Rice

Gabrielle Bullock
6:00pm, GSAPP

Retrofuturisms Symposium
6:30pm, Yale

Annie Chu and Rick Gooding —Friction: A Duality
7:00pm, Sci-Arc

Project Soane with RAMSA's Melissa DelVecchio
8:00pm, ICAA

Thursday, March 18

Spring 2021 Sciame Lecture Series: Okwui Okpokwasili, Camille Norment, Onome Ekeh
5:30pm, Spitzer

Emerging Voices: Kounkuey Design Initiative and Low Design Office
6:00pm, The Architectural League Of New York

Retrofuturisms Symposium
6:30pm, Yale

Making Space for Equity—From Norms to Practice
8:30pm, Berkeley

Friday, March 19

Infrastructures of Violence
1:00pm, GSAPP

Retrofuturisms Symposium
6:30pm, Yale

If you would like to write up an event for us, get in touch: editor@nyra.nyc. See an example here. Write-ups always start out as notes & quotes.

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Five desk editors run NYRA: Alex Klimoski, Phillip Denny, Carolyn Bailey, Samuel Medina, & Nicolas Kemper (who also serves as the Publisher). They rotate duties each month - currently the SKYLINE editor is Alex Klimoski, and the Managing Editors are Carolyn Bailey and Samuel Medina.