S K Y L I N E | 12 | The Walls of Gun Violence
The Week Ahead
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In the United States, guns injured 39,427 people last year, and killed nearly 20,000. Death, injury, and trauma are not the only consequences of our country’s gun policies—there are repercussions for the built environment, too. Guns come with walls. A 2013 report put forth as a response to the Sandy Hook tragedy by the NRA task force, the 'National School Shield ' report, had a few tips for schools:
Install fencing that denies climbing holds as well as opportunities to bypass underneath;
Carefully choose materials for fences and landscaping that provide opportunities for natural surveillance and access control;
Use fencing material that clearly demonstrates territorial ownership;
Fencing should be free of any vegetation. Bushes, trees, containers, tanks, or any object that might provide a hiding place should be removed from the proximity of the fence.
And that is only the tip of the 225-page report. Imagine if we were to ring every New York school with such a fence. The consequences would be remarkably similar, in scope and sweep, to the fundamental reworking of our entire built environment to accommodate our embrace of another machine—the car. While the car choked our cities with pavement and parking, the gun will suffocate our schools, museums, restaurants, and grocery stores with walls and fences. By choosing not to keep dangerous weapons of war out of the public realm, we choose to fear the public realm. And while it may be decades before the government changes gun policies, the walls are going up right now. Even when the gun policies finally shift, the walls will still be with us for generations to come.
3/24—The Archaeology of Infection
LYDIA KALLIPOLITI, principal of ANACYCLE, spoke at RICE about the history and resurgence of a bubble-minded architectural sensibility that stems from issues of cleanliness, infection, and environment. The acute relevance of the topic to the pandemic was not lost on Kallipoliti; as she put it bluntly, “We’ve never been more aware of our bodies in space.” Her careful reexamination of historical approaches to hygiene and microenvironments—whether in the form of design projects or theoretical critiques—took on a new light when brought to the contemporary forefront. Reyner Banham’s iconic Environment-Bubble and Erik Nitsche’s lithographs of weather control were shown adjacent to drawings of contemporary domestic spaces, as well as projections of future dwellings, tacitly showing their predictions to have come true.
Kallipoliti did not sugarcoat the present situation; she argued that past imaginaries of a clean, isolated lifestyle have taken the form of alluring spaces of confinement, where the barrier between life and work is broken. She warned that this is not merely a reaction to the current coronavirus crisis. As we begin our steps towards a new post-pandemic world, we must resist trends of detachment and embrace the “dirtier, fuzzier reality” of unregulated environments. What this would look like remains to be seen, but the underlying call is clear: “In this new world, we are in dire need of a new form of criticism.” Harish Krishnamoorthy
3/25—A Better Public Realm
"While everyone says vernacular architecture is declining, vernacular urbanism is growing immensely," said CARIE PENABAD, cofounder with ADIB CÚRE of the firm CÚRE & PENABAD, on Thursday evening. They as well as CRAIG BORUM and JEN MAIGRET of PLY+ were among the eight practices that won the Architectural League's emerging voices reward this year. The theme tying the two practice's work together was the influence of teaching on their practice. While leading trips to India, Africa, and South America for studios for the University of Miami (where Penabad directs the undergraduate architecture program), Cúre & Penabad shifted focus: "I thought we were going to help people design better houses - the studio brief was a house - but when we arrived, we realized everyone knows how to build a house - they needed people to help them design infrastructure, and a better public realm." For the partners of PLY+, who remade an older practice (PLY) in 2016, their Ann Arbor practice followed the curriculum's shift in focus from theory to the shop at the architecture school where they teach, Taubman. While the slick PLY+ presentation video did not benefit from its elevator background beats, the graceful execution of complex geometries in their projects, especially the wood and brick work on St. Mary Chapel in Livonia, showed the fabrication focus is bearing fruit. Nicolas Kemper
The launch event for REINHOLD MARTIN’s new book, Knowledge Worlds: Media, Materiality, and the Making of the Modern University at COLUMBIA GSAPP on Friday was postponed “at the request of the participants” in support of the striking union workers of the GRADUATE WORKERS OF COLUMBIA. The union has been on strike since March 15th over contract negotiations with the University that have been ongoing since 2018. Columbia fought the creation of the union, and since being legally recognized in 2017 by the National Labor Relations Board—the federal agency responsible for enforcing labor law related to collective bargaining—the GWC-UAW has still not agreed on a contract with Columbia administration. The 3,000+ strikers have five primary demands:
Neutral third-party arbitration to handle disputes of harassment and discrimination
An increase in pay towards a living wage
Full recognition of the union
A Union shop to support members
An expansion of health and childcare benefits
THE WEEK AHEAD
Monday, March 29
Building for a Decarceration Nation
Tuesday, March 30
Book Talk – “Making Houston Modern: Howard Barnstone’s Life and Architecture”
6:00pm, Center For Architecture and The Glass House
Wednesday, March 31
Tokyo – NYC Design Share: Reflections on School Design Beyond COVID-19
6:00pm, AIANY and The Architectural Institute of Japan
Thursday, April 1
Emerging Voices: Share Studio Zewde and Lori A. Brown
6:00pm, The Architectural League of New York
Friday, April 2
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