My Lost City
When New York was perpetually on fire.
When New York was perpetually on fire.
How a poet and an architect rescued a nation’s riches.
A dispatch from a tiny-house convention:
Here the stories pivoted around Turning Tiny. Before Tiny, there was an unhappy marriage, unpaid bills, stifling office work, a home of 2,500 square feet or more; after Tiny came freedom, new love, debt relief, self-employment, and, of course, a handmade nest.
A thousand years ago, huge pyramids and earthen mounds stood where East St. Louis sprawls today in Southern Illinois... At the city's apex in 1100, the population exploded to as many as 30 thousand people. It was the largest pre-Columbian city in North America, bigger than London or Paris at the time.
In rural North Dakota, a small county and an insular religious sect are caught in a stand-off over a decaying piece of America’s atomic history.
The archive of Mexican architect Luis Barragán has been hidden away for decades. Then an artist decided to make a performance of getting it back.
When it’s finished, architect Adrian Smith’s Jeddah Tower will be the the tallest building in the world, over a kilometer high. He’s already thinking about pushing past a mile in the air.
On the then-new phenomenon of dead downtowns.
“It is not only for amenity but for economics that choice is so vital. Without a mixture on the streets, our downtowns would be superficially standardized, and functionally standardized as well. New construction is necessary, but it is not an unmixed blessing: its inexorable economy is fatal to hundreds of enterprises able to make out successfully in old buildings. Notice that when a new building goes up, the kind of ground-floor tenants it gets are usually the chain store and the chain restaurant. Lack of variety in age and overhead is an unavoidable defect in large new shopping centers and is one reason why even the most successful cannot incubate the unusual--a point overlooked by planners of downtown shopping-center projects.”
The developer responsible for the tallest residential building in New York—the penthouse just sold for $90 million—lives in a two-story house in Queens.
The battle over a New York Picasso.
A woman's attempt to maintain stability with a troubled daughter and an architect husband succumbing to Alzheimer's.
"Even a year ago, he had still been the old Dory, the real Dory, forgetful, but not so much that it turned his insides out: he couldn’t remember the name of Ellen’s place of work, the institute that she’d founded decades before—The Children’s Place? The Children’s Center? It’s the Learning Center? Are you sure? Then he couldn’t remember how to adjust his drafting table, then he didn’t know where his fine-tip pens were."
How Hafeez Contractor is creating an alternate India in the sky, where professionsals are “insulated from the chaos that has long hamstrung their homeland.”
A bartender contemplates architecture, gender identity, and sadomasochism.
"But Penthouse 808Ravel has promise. Shag carpet. Doors that shut heavily. Porridge doors thicker than mush. I have sexual feelings about Penthouse 808Ravel. Ligature feelings. Relational feelings, knots, bandages."
A young woman seeks an appropriate way to dispose of the ashes of her father, a fervid design critic.
"He always wished to be a geometric form (so often did he rail against 'the tyranny of the organic') so I could tell myself he’d be happy, but he also hated bric-a-brac and I think right now he’d qualify, being a small object with no function."
How architecture has made Los Angeles a bank robber’s paradise.
A visit to Star Axis, a desert art installation that connects you to the cosmos.
An "architectural fiction" centered around a city built by machines, for machines.
"Social spaces for machines bear the fragments of their tasks, and nothing superfluous. Machines don't need places to eat or sleep, but they need places for their own sorts of socially evocative maintenance rituals. They need places where auto parts can be partially assembled and taken apart, time and time again, like a game. Machines hang out in cafes while working on mundane maintenance tasks, with their component addresses made public in unique ways, so that other machines can gather together and show off their range of operations. Machines that build other machines take their half-finished constructions out in the company of other machines, so that they can build them together and get input on possible alternatives. There are public machine exercise spaces, where machines go through their range of motions and data abilities, for the purpose of showing off their various tolerances."
What remains of the past’s cutting edge.
The weird history and uncertain future of New York City’s shoreline.
An interview with the artchitects responsible for Stuttgart’s train station, Hamburg’s concert house and Berlin’s airport, three projects “currently competing to be seen as the country’s most disastrous.”
Shanghai, in 1989 and 2013. Excerpted from A History of Future Cities.
A strange, ongoing property battle among the richest of Texans.
Descriptions of a decrepit house take on (and intersect with) human qualities.
"Look at your hallway here, these smooth white walls, freshly painted, everything seems clean and healthy. But you’ve got to think of your house like a body, all wired up with electrical veins and pipes, a nervous system running beneath the surface without you even knowing it. You’ve got your water pump, your furnace, your water heater in the basement, these are your organs, they keep things moving, they keep things regular."
On New York City’s “Young Turks of radical urban playground design.”
The political fight over a new football stadium in Minnesota.