In line with our commitment to public scholarship in architecture, landscape, and urbanism, in 2020 we inaugurated the Places Journal Summer Writing + Editorial Workshop.
Offered as a benefit to all our academic partners, the Workshop consisted of four small-group, week-long sessions, led by Places editors and conducted via Zoom. Each immersive session consisted of lectures, group discussions, one-on-one coaching, and peer-to-peer exchange. Nominated by their respective faculties, and coming from schools on five continents, the participating Summer Fellows worked closely with the editors to hone their critical thinking and writing skills and to produce an essay on the theme of “Architecture, Urbanism, Pandemics.”
The resulting essays are presented here. Interpreting this prompt expansively, the workshop participants write about climate crisis and urban equity, digitized isolation and improvised zones of refuge, domesticity and access to public space, preservation and community, logistics and land use. As editors, we have been impressed by the passion and ambition of these emerging critics of architecture and design. And they have felt the same; as one student wrote to us recently, “It is super exciting to find the tools for reaching a public with my writing and research. The workshop experience only reiterated for me that this is the kind of work I want to pursue.”
How might the pandemic, which we are experiencing in real time, relate to broadcast coverage of the Gulf War in the early 1990s?
The British botanic garden produced medicinal knowledge; it also exacerbated colonial dominion.
The memorials to the Vietnam War and 9/11 accommodate public presence and private sorrow, individual and national trauma.
All too often news stories falsely portray Black Lives Matter as a band of isolated rebels, rather than as a grassroots network.
The decision to relax quarantine rules and travel restrictions for the sake of a seasonal delicacy raises political and ethical issues.
For encyclopedic art museums, the pandemic offers the opportunity to reconsider and renegotiate their obligations to the public.
The best architectural metaphor for the digital interface might not be the “window.”
City Hall can be a symbol of community pride, a locus of bureaucratic frustration, and a setting for democratic protest.
Post-pandemic, we need to understand air not simply as a germ-free medium but rather as a vital and spirited atmosphere.
The lockdown is making it clear: Essential city services and daily needs should be just a short walk or easy bike ride away.
It’s time for the Chinese to bestow trust and show confidence in their own architectural culture.
It would be absurd to post the same selfie every day. Yet composing one’s own video portrait is now part of the soft narcissism of daily life.
The pandemic might finally produce what young designers have been seeking — a healthy work-life balance.
Decades before the High Line, the post-industrial West Side was a haven for queer culture and creative experimentation.
In racially segregated Philadelphia, the lack of affordable housing has long been a different kind of pandemic.
Almost fifty years ago, a self-identified lesbian alcoholic envisioned the deteriorated old house in Pico-Union as a safe space for women in recovery.
Along the Atlanta Beltline, the interplay between climate crisis and racialized development is raising issues of environmental justice.
Epidemiological models are based on information that is not only scientific and statistical but also social and political.
Open-street projects do not always meaningfully involve the people who will live amidst the new infrastructure and amenities.
As the pandemic closed international borders, I decided to buy a tent and study the ecosystem in my own backyard.
The half-ruined old gardens seem far from Paris and far too from the 21st century, yet they are host to a diverse urbanity.
Shared-equity home ownership offers alternative ways of organizing our domestic spaces and enhancing community solidarity.
Art-as-logistics platforms forsake efficiency for happenstance and introduce friction into the tightly controlled spaces of global delivery.
Street protests, civil disobedience, murals, graffiti, even property damage: All chart public grief.
The adaptation that we have seen in our homes and cities in response to COVID-19 raises questions about how we perceive reuse.