About the Workshop

In line with our commitment to public scholarship in architecture, landscape, and urbanism, this year 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 students 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.”

Explore the Articles

Something Is Happening Outside

How might the pandemic, which we are experiencing in real time, relate to broadcast coverage of the Gulf War in the early 1990s?

Botanic Gardens and Quinine: To Cure or Colonize?

The British botanic garden produced medicinal knowledge; it also exacerbated colonial dominion.

Orchestrated Absence

The memorials to the Vietnam War and 9/11 accommodate public presence and private sorrow, individual and national trauma.

The Arson Riot Image

All too often news stories falsely portray Black Lives Matter as a band of isolated rebels, rather than as a grassroots network.

Spargelfest and Migrant Labor

The decision to relax quarantine rules and travel restrictions for the sake of a seasonal delicacy raises political and ethical issues.

Cultural Bandwidth

For encyclopedic art museums, the pandemic offers the opportunity to reconsider and renegotiate their obligations to the public.

The Virtual Hallway

The best architectural metaphor for the digital interface might not be the “window.”

The Essential Business of City Hall

City Hall can be a symbol of community pride, a locus of bureaucratic frustration, and a setting for democratic protest.

Revisiting Atmosphere in Architecture

Post-pandemic, we need to understand air not simply as a germ-free medium but rather as a vital and spirited atmosphere.

How far in the future is fifteen minutes?

The lockdown is making it clear: Essential city services and daily needs should be just a short walk or easy bike ride away.

The Future of China’s “Weird” Architectural Scene

It’s time for the Chinese to bestow trust and show confidence in their own architectural culture.

A Guide to Zoom Self-Portraiture

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.

Beyond the Charrette: The Post-Pandemic Office

The pandemic might finally produce what young designers have been seeking — a healthy work-life balance.

Powers of Removal

Decades before the High Line, the post-industrial West Side was a haven for queer culture and creative experimentation.

Protest on the Parkway

In racially segregated Philadelphia, the lack of affordable housing has long been a different kind of pandemic.

Preservation “On the Natch”

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.

A Tale of Place-Taking

Along the Atlanta Beltline, the interplay between climate crisis and racialized development is raising issues of environmental justice.

The Right to the Model

Epidemiological models are based on information that is not only scientific and statistical but also social and political.

Open Streets and Community Process

Open-street projects do not always meaningfully involve the people who will live amidst the new infrastructure and amenities.

Ecological Education: Use My Backyard

As the pandemic closed international borders, I decided to buy a tent and study the ecosystem in my own backyard.

Coloring the Murs à Pêches

The half-ruined old gardens seem far from Paris and far too from the 21st century, yet they are host to a diverse urbanity.

Yardwork

Shared-equity home ownership offers alternative ways of organizing our domestic spaces and enhancing community solidarity.

Slow Logistics

Art-as-logistics platforms forsake efficiency for happenstance and introduce friction into the tightly controlled spaces of global delivery.

Picturing Grief

Street protests, civil disobedience, murals, graffiti, even property damage: All chart public grief.

Week Twelve, or Rethinking Reuse

The adaptation that we have seen in our homes and cities in response to COVID-19 raises questions about how we perceive reuse.

Streamland

Digital raves are transforming the isolated pandemic-residential interior into a zone for communion and catharsis.