About the Workshop

In line with our commitment to public scholarship in architecture, landscape, and urbanism, we inaugurated the Places Journal Summer Writing + Editorial Workshop in 2020.

Offered as a benefit to all our academic partners, the Workshop consists of four small-group, week-long sessions, led by Places editors and writers, and conducted via Zoom. Each immersive session consists 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 Summer Fellows work closely with the Places team to hone their critical thinking and writing skills and to produce an essay for publication in this special section of the journal. The theme for 2020 was “Architecture, Urbanism, Pandemics.” In 2021, the theme was “Responsibilities.”

Interpreting these prompts expansively, workshop participants have written about climate crisis and urban equity, digitized isolation and improvised zones of refuge, borderlands and informal architectures, housing and preservation, logistics and land use. As editors and instructors, 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

White woman, Black woman, and two white boys, all in swimsuits on swimming pier.
How Does It Feel?

Politicians in Oslo started planning the urban-renewal project known as “Fjord City” in the year 2000, and a zoning plan for the port district of Bjørvika was ratified by the city council in 2003. The idea was to build a new urban area by gathering the city’s most prominent cultural institutions, including the Opera, the […]

Three skyscrapers in New York City.
New Old New York City

Over the last decade, New York City has seen an increase in condominium development in pencil towers that cater to the super-rich, especially along the stretch of 57th Street that has come to be known as Billionaires’ Row. I live in […]

Brightly painted two-story building.
Dying for a Pee: Empowering Residents in Cape Town’s Informal Settlement

On March 1, 2016 at 8 pm, Sinoxolo Mafevuka left her corrugated sheet-iron home, toilet paper in hand, to relieve herself at the nearest public toilet. Mafevuka lived in Khayelitsha, near Cape Town. Her home was in SST, one of Khayelitsha’s informal settlements, and like most homes in SST, it was not equipped with plumbing […]

Bus departing street-level station.
A Challenge to Autopia

It’s Friday night, and my friends are having a party. It takes about 20 minutes to drive to their house, but I have recently moved to Los Angeles, and don’t have a car or much disposable income to pay for Ubers. So I opt for the L.A. Metro. I jump on a subway for half […]

Rendering of six varieties of tract home.
The Discomforts of Home: Seattle’s Legacy of Restrictive Covenants

As a student in architecture school, I’ve been asked on a few occasions to describe the house in which I was raised. “Milquetoast” is the word that comes to mind — 2,040 square feet of engineered wood products from the 1990s with a quarter of the facade dedicated to a two-car garage. My childhood house […]

Pit or Paradise: Rain Gardens and Civic Responsibility

On a summer day in a Maryland suburb, bees browse a miniature canopy of coneflower in a garden tucked between a street and sidewalk. The garden bed slopes gently inward from these hard surfaces, forming a basin six inches deep. A storm rolls through. An opening sliced into the curb channels road runoff into the […]

The Resounding Success of the Big Dig

The mega-scale Big Dig is Massachusetts’s three-decade project rerouting Boston’s major interstate highway, I-93, through an underground tunnel, in order to knit together a city segregated by ethnicity, income differentiation, and traffic congestion. Conceived in the 1970s, planned in 1982, constructed between 1991 and 2006, and finished in 2007, the Big Dig was one of […]

Color photograph of 5-story brick housing development being demolished.
Performative Housing: Toronto’s Regent Park

When Don Bach was interviewed about his newly acquired residence at 60 Richmond East in Regent Park, Toronto, he expressed unmitigated enthusiasm: “I love this place! it came along at just the right time for me!” he told the Toronto Star, pumping his fists with excitement.1David Hayes, “Living at 60 Richmond: ‘I Love This Place,’” […]

Color print of burning city and people fleeing.
Double Vision: Industry and the U.S. Building Code

On a cold Boston day in March 1895, six men gathered in the offices of the Underwriters Bureau of New England to discuss what would soon become the National Fire Protection Association or NFPA. While small building fires remain common today, fires at the turn of the 19th century were significantly larger and more deadly; […]

The Suburban Garage: Model for a Flexible Framework

Would you believe me if I said that the best-designed room in a single-family house is the garage? “The garage?” you might reply, “That uninspired box which represents the auto-dependent suburban sprawl that’s destroying the environment and segregating our society?” Yes, that garage. But rather than talk about the environmental and social impacts of suburbia, […]

Beyond Pastness: Re-Use in Ramelton

In the picturesque town of Ramelton, located in the North West of Ireland, a hulking set of warehouses on the Quay are a tactile reminder of what this place used to be. In stone, shale, and concrete, they tell a story about the past: of bustling trade, industrialization, and prosperity in rural parts of the […]

Cemetery surrounded by high rises.
Urban Cemeteries: Evolving Functions and Identities

Contemporary cities are repeated reconciliations between past and present. Although collaging across time may be the fundamental practice of urban architectural design, one component of urban life seems exempt from the rule: cemeteries. We tend to believe, tacitly at least, that cemeteries are permanent and immutable. Cities change, but their cemeteries don’t. This assumption leads […]

Cylindrical pavilions with woven wooden surrounds.
The Tjibaou Cultural Center: Cultural Agent or Political Foothold?

The French territory of New Caledonia, an ecologically and culturally rich archipelago in the South Pacific, is home to the native Kanaks. The French colonized the Kanaks and their lands in the mid-19th century, claiming the central islands and relegating the indigenous population to smaller reservations at the archipelago’s periphery. The Kanaks first demanded independence […]

Foot, Notes (A Walk Along the Irish Border)

Look at that hill. It’s not huge but has some height, 241 metres to be exact. It’s rough towards the top with bones of rock breaking through the surface. The vegetation is brown and green and scrappy, with the lower flanks farmed here and there and scattered with bungalows.1The Irish manifestation of the bungalow emerged […]

Black-and-white photograph of middle-aged woman in 3/4 profile.
“No Apology in a World of Men”: Marion Mahony Griffin and Women in Architecture Curricula

As a woman student of architecture, I didn’t initially question how architectural history was presented as being the sole domain of male genius. A seminar on gender and architecture, taught by Lauren O’Connell at Ithaca College, opened my eyes. Architecture’s pedagogical emphasis on men does not reflect a lack of women in architectural practice, but […]

Fulfillment: The Gamification of Logistics

When an M. Gemi package arrives at your door, you receive more than a mere pair of shoes. Inside the shipping box is another box, its linen-like surface finely embossed with the company logo. The lid of this box is just snug enough that it glides up as it’s lifted, and the underside is labeled […]

Losing Our Edge

I often drive when I could fly. It is my nomadic search for a tactile presence in a time and place. -Austen Allen, Black Landscapes Matter I thought a great deal about the contours of the American Northeast long before I decided to become a landscape architect. In retrospect, my years spent driving across the […]

A Wilted Flower: The Failure of Trinidad’s Academy for Performing Arts

Speaking to Rubadiri Victor over Zoom, I could sense that, even after eleven years, his emotions were raw and his disappointment deep. Victor is an activist and artist in various media, including film, music, painting, theatre, photography, writing, publishing, curating, and design. He is the founder of the Artists’ Coalition of Trinidad and Tobago, or ACTT, […]

Public Art, History, and Resistance in Blandtown

I was surprised and delighted at the end of my first neighborhood-association meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, when Renee Wright, the organization’s president, offered to take me on a personal tour of the neighborhood. We drove around in her small sedan chatting on a hot September afternoon, with the air- conditioning blasting. Towards the end of […]

The Moulin Rouge Stands Empty

On March 26, 1960, James McMillan, president of the Las Vegas NAACP and the first Black dentist in Las Vegas, assembled tables and chairs in the then-defunct Moulin Rouge Casino. Black activists were demanding that the Las Vegas Strip be desegregated, and were threatening to march. The former casino — usually locked and empty — […]

Building to Burn

In 2017, the Tubbs Fire ravaged the city of Santa Rosa, California. The fire was so intense and the wind so strong that embers jumped six lanes of the 101 Freeway to ignite homes. Fire destroyed more than 1,000 houses in the suburban neighborhood of Coffey Park, an area assumed to be so safe that […]

It’s Not Like the Postcard

The Hawai‘i of midcentury imagination has changed. Gone are the days of postwar leisure reward — […]

Creating Space for Ordinary Life

It’s 7 pm — golden hour at Washington-Jefferson Park in Eugene, Oregon. A group of three is cooking dinner on a charcoal grill. Across the street that splits the park into two sections, two others sit in chairs outside a tent, sharing a cigarette and talking quietly. Another person is reading alone, feet sticking out […]

Fine Printing

It is almost a tautology to say that a building contract awarded is the definition of success for a building contractor. Yet when the first national convention of American builders met in Chicago in 1887, “the absolute absurdity of the system of contracts now prevailing” was foremost on their minds.1Peter B. Wight, “Building Contracts,” in […]

Drawings of Tea-Leaves and Split Entrails: The Uncertain Social Function of Architectural Plans

I stumbled on the architectural plans for my high-school assembly hall in the New South Wales government archives. Like an old photo, the drawings brought back vivid memories: the hall obscured by fog on daybreak winter mornings, the dusty smell hiding in the backstage curtains, the scrape of metal chair legs on sunlit floorboards. The […]

The Space for Space-Making

Shenzhen, the special economic zone established in 1980, was the first Chinese city to introduce housing as a commodity, in contrast to the established communist planning economy. Housing in the special zone could be owned or bought and sold on the market, instead of only being distributed by the state to privileged residents. Shenzhen’s development […]

Learning from 1862: Drought and Deluge in California’s Central Valley

In 1860, William Henry Brewer was hired as the botanist for the first ever geological survey of the State of California. The Gold Rush that brought thousands out West had waned, and mining had shifted from individual fortune-seeking to corporate operations, most of which were unsuccessful. It was a time of railroad dependency, and California […]