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A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes

By the end of the twentieth century, America’s suburbs contained more office space than its central cities. Many of these corporate workplaces were surrounded, somewhat incongruously, by verdant vistas of broad lawns and leafy trees. In Pastoral Capitalism, Louise Mozingo describes the evolution of these central (but often ignored) features of postwar urbanism in the context of the modern capitalist enterprise.

These new suburban corporate landscapes emerged from a historical moment when corporations reconceived their management structures, the city decentralized and dispersed into low-density, auto-dependent peripheries, and the pastoral--in the form of leafy residential suburbs--triumphed as an American ideal. Greenness, writes Mozingo, was associated with goodness, and pastoral capitalism appropriated the suburb’s aesthetics and moral code. Like the lawn-proud suburban homeowner, corporations understood a pastoral landscape’s capacity to communicate identity, status, and right-mindedness.

Mozingo distinguishes among three forms of corporate landscapes--the corporate campus, the corporate estate, and the office park--and examines suburban corporate landscapes built and inhabited by such companies as Bell Labs, General Motors, Deere & Company, and Microsoft. She also considers the globalization of pastoral capitalism in Europe and the developing world including Singapore, India, and China. Mozingo argues that, even as it is proliferating, pastoral capitalism needs redesign, as do many of our metropolitan forms, for pressing social, cultural, political, and environmental reasons. Future transformations are impossible, however, unless we understand the past. Pastoral Capitalism offers an indispensible chapter in urban history, examining not only the design of corporate landscapes but also the economic, social, and cultural models that determined their form.

Why would an architect reach for a pencil when drawing software and AutoCAD are a click away? Use a ruler when 3D-scanners and GPS devices are close at hand? In Why Architects Still Draw, Paolo Belardi offers an elegant and ardent defense of drawing by hand as a way of thinking. Belardi is no Luddite; he doesn’t urge architects to give up digital devices for watercolors and a measuring tape. Rather, he makes a case for drawing as the interface between the idea and the work itself.

A drawing, Belardi argues, holds within it the entire final design. It is the paradox of the acorn: a project emerges from a drawing—even from a sketch, rough and inchoate—just as an oak tree emerges from an acorn. Citing examples not just from architecture but also from literature, chemistry, music, archaeology, and art, Belardi shows how drawing is not a passive recording but a moment of invention pregnant with creative possibilities.

Moving from the sketch to the survey, Belardi explores the meaning of measurement in a digital era. A survey of a site should go beyond width, height, and depth; it must include two more dimensions: history and culture. Belardi shows the sterility of techniques that value metric exactitude over cultural appropriateness, arguing for an “informed drawing” that takes into consideration more than meters or feet, stone or steel. Even in the age of electronic media, Belardi writes, drawing can maintain its role as a cornerstone of architecture.

Disappointment and Failure in Architecture

The usual history of architecture is a grand narrative of soaring monuments and heroic makers. But it is also a false narrative in many ways, rarely acknowledging the personal failures and disappointments of architects. In Bleak Houses, Timothy Brittain-Catlin investigates the underside of architecture, the stories of losers and unfulfillment often ignored by an architectural criticism that values novelty, fame, and virility over fallibility and rejection. Brittain-Catlin tells us about Cecil Corwin, for example, Frank Lloyd Wright’s friend and professional partner, who was so overwhelmed by Wright’s genius that he had to stop designing; about architects whose surviving buildings are marooned and mutilated; and about others who suffered variously from bad temper, exile, lack of talent, lack of documentation, the wrong friends, or being out of fashion.

As architectural criticism promotes increasingly narrow values, dismissing certain styles wholesale and subjecting buildings to a Victorian litmus test of “real” versus “fake,” Brittain-Catlin explains the effect that this superficial criticality has had not only on architectural discourse but on the quality of buildings. The fact that most buildings receive no critical scrutiny at all has resulted in vast stretches of ugly modern housing and a pervasive public illiteracy about architecture.

Architecture critics, Brittain-Catlin suggests, could learn something from novelists about how to write about buildings. Alan Hollinghurst in The Stranger’s Child, for example, and Elizabeth Bowen in Eva Trout vividly evoke memorable houses. Thinking like novelists, critics would see what architectural losers offer: episodic, sentimental ways of looking at buildings that relate to our own experience, lessons learned from bad examples that could make buildings better.

In The New Science of Cities, Michael Batty suggests that to understand cities we must view them not simply as places in space but as systems of networks and flows. To understand space, he argues, we must understand flows, and to understand flows, we must understand networks—the relations between objects that comprise the system of the city. Drawing on the complexity sciences, social physics, urban economics, transportation theory, regional science, and urban geography, and building on his own previous work, Batty introduces theories and methods that reveal the deep structure of how cities function.

Batty presents the foundations of a new science of cities, defining flows and their networks and introducing tools that can be applied to understanding different aspects of city structure. He examines the size of cities, their internal order, the transport routes that define them, and the locations that fix these networks. He introduces methods of simulation that range from simple stochastic models to bottom-up evolutionary models to aggregate land-use transportation models. Then, using largely the same tools, he presents design and decision-making models that predict interactions and flows in future cities. These networks emphasize a notion with relevance for future research and planning: that design of cities is collective action.

A Landscape History of New England takes a view of New England’s landscapes that goes beyond picture postcard-ready vistas of white-steepled churches, open pastures, and tree-covered mountains. Its chapters describe, for example, the Native American presence in the Maine Woods; offer a history of agriculture told through stone walls, woodlands, and farm buildings; report on the fragile ecology of tourist-friendly Cape Cod beaches; and reveal the ethnic stereotypes informing Colonial Revivalism. Taken together, they offer a wide-ranging history of New England’s diverse landscapes, stretching across two centuries.

The book shows that all New England landscapes are the products of human agency as well as nature. The authors trace the roles that work, recreation, historic preservation, conservation, and environmentalism have played in shaping the region, and they highlight the diversity of historical actors who have transformed both its meaning and its physical form. Drawing on a wide range of disciplines--including history, geography, environmental studies, literature, art history, and historic preservation--the book provides fresh perspectives on New England’s many landscapes: forests, mountains, farms, coasts, industrial areas, villages, towns, and cities. Generously illustrated, with many archival photographs, A Landscape History of New England offers readers a solid historical foundation for understanding the great variety of places that make up New England.

Urbanization and globalization have shaped the last hundred years. These two dominant trends are mutually reinforcing: globalization links countries through the networked communications of urban hubs. The urban population now generates more than eighty percent of global GDP. Cities account for enormous flows of energy and materials—inflows of goods and services and outflows of waste. Thus urban environmental management critically affects global sustainability. In this book, Paulo Ferrão and John Fernández offer a metabolic perspective on urban sustainability, viewing the city as a metabolism, in terms of its exchanges of matter and energy. Their book provides a roadmap to the strategies and tools needed for a scientifically based framework for analyzing and promoting the sustainability of urban systems.

Using the concept of urban metabolism as a unifying framework, Ferrão and Fernandez describe a systems-oriented approach that establishes useful linkages among environmental, economic, social, and technical infrastructure issues. These linkages lead to an integrated information-intensive platform that enables ecologically informed urban planning. After establishing the theoretical background and describing the diversity of contributing disciplines, the authors sample sustainability approaches and tools, offer an extended study of the urban metabolism of Lisbon, and outline the challenges and opportunities in approaching urban sustainability in both developed and developing countries.

Manfredo Tafuri and Contemporary Architecture

The influential Italian architectural historian Manfredo Tafuri (1935–1994) invoked the productive possibilities of crisis, writing that history is a “project of crisis” (progetto di crisi). In this entry in the Writing Architecture series, Marco Biraghi explores Tafuri’s multifaceted and often knotty oeuvre, using the historian’s concept of a project of crisis as a lens through which to examine his historical construction of contemporary architecture.

Mindful of Tafuri’s statement that there is no such thing as criticism, only history, Biraghi carefully maps the influences on Tafuri’s writing—Walter Benjamin, Karl Krauss, Massimo Cacciari, and the architect Ludovico Quaroni, among others—in order to create a portrait of one of the most complex minds in twentieth-century architecture and architectural history. Tracing an arc from Tafuri’s first articles in the magazine Contropiano to the idea of contradiction at the center of the project of crisis, Biraghi cites Tafuri’s writing on some of his contemporaries, including Louis Kahn, Le Corbusier, Robert Venturi, Aldo Rossi, and the “Five Architects” (Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, and Richard Meier). Tafuri’s historical construction of the contemporary, Biraghi explains, is based on the idea that the past is open, providing the present with ever-changing and indeterminate form. There is no contradiction between Tafuri the historian and Tafuri the contemporary critic, only the greatest possible integration. The importance of Tafuri’s interpretation of architecture goes beyond mere academic or historiographic interest, Biraghi argues; Tafuri’s notion of the project of crisis is fundamentally important in understanding our present-day architectural condition

Error

Architecture never goes entirely according to plan. Every project deviates from its designers’ expectations, and wise architects learn to anticipate, mitigate, and sometimes celebrate the errors along the way. Perspecta 46 argues that error is part of architecture’s essence: mistranslations, contradictions, happy accidents, and wicked problems pervade our systems of design and building, almost always yielding surprising aberrations. Today, with increasingly complex projects underpinned by layers of computer code, small errors can proliferate rapidly, and the dream of errorless architecture seems more utopian than ever.

This issue of Perspecta—the oldest and most distinguished student-edited architectural journal in America—considers the challenge of defining error, the difficulty of diagnosing and managing it, and the promise (and peril) of following its lead. Essays and projects illuminate error’s ambiguous agency both in reality and in the architectural imagination, covering topics that range from Dante’s cosmos of divine justice and Michelangelo’s architectural “abuses” to Dada urbanism and the warped skyscrapers of Google Earth.

A Candid Guide to the Profession

Since 1985, Architect? has been an essential text for aspiring architects, offering the best basic guide to the profession available. This third edition has been substantially revised and rewritten, with new material covering the latest developments in architectural and construction technologies, digital methodologies, new areas of focus in teaching and practice, evolving aesthetic philosophies, sustainability and green architecture, and alternatives to traditional practice.

Architect? tells the inside story of architectural education and practice; it is realistic, unvarnished, and insightful. Chapter 1 asks “Why Be an Architect?” and chapter 2 offers reasons “Why Not to Be an Architect.” After this provocative beginning, Architect? goes on to explain and critique architectural education, covering admission, degree and curriculum types, and workload as well as such post-degree options as internship, teaching, and work in related fields. It offers a detailed discussion of professors and practitioners and the “-isms” and “-ologies” most prevalent in teaching and practicing architecture. It explains how an architect works and gets work, and describes architectural services from initial client contact to construction oversight. The new edition also includes a generous selection of drawings and cartoons from the author’s Washington Post column, “Shaping the City,” offering teachable moments wittily in graphic form.

The author, Roger Lewis, has taught, practiced, and written extensively about architecture for many years. In Architect? he explains—for students, professors, practitioners, and even prospective clients—how architects think and work and what they care about as they strive to make the built environment more commodious, more beautiful, and more sustainable.

The Social Structures of Sustainability

Buildings are the nation’s greatest energy consumers. Forty percent of all our energy is used for heating, cooling, lighting, and powering machines and devices in buildings. And despite decades of investment in green construction technologies, residential and commercial buildings remain stubbornly energy inefficient. This book looks beyond the technological and material aspects of green construction to examine the cultural, social, and organizational shifts that sustainable building requires, examining the fundamental challenge to centuries-long traditions in design and construction that green building represents.

The contributors consider the changes associated with green building through a sociological and organizational lens. They discuss shifts in professional expertise created by new social concerns about green building, including evolving boundaries of professional jurisdictions; changing industry strategies and structures, including the roles of ownership, supply firms, and market niches; new operational, organizational, and cultural arrangements, including the mainstreaming of environmental concerns; narratives and frames that influence the perception of green building; and future directions for the theory and practice of sustainable construction. The essays offer uniquely multidisciplinary insights into the transformative potential of green building and the obstacles that must be overcome to make it the norm.

Contributors
Lauren Barhydt, Clayton Bartczak, Lyn Bartram, Olivier Berthod, Nicole Woolsey Biggart, Lenora Bohren, Bertien Broekhans, William Browning, Zinta S. Byrne, Michael Conger, Jennifer E. Cross, David Deal, Beth M. Duckles, Brian Dunbar, Robert Eccles, Amy Edmondson, Bill Franzen, Ronald Fry, Rebecca L. Henn, Jock Herron, Stephen Hockley, Andrew J. Hoffman, Kathryn B. Janda, Nitin Joglekar, Gavin Killip, Alison G. Kwok, Larissa Larsen, Michelle A. Meyer, Christine Mondor, Monica Ponce de Leon, Nicholas B. Rajkovich, Stuart Reeve, Johnny Rodgers, Garima Sharma, Geoffrey Thün, Ellen van Bueren, Kathy Velikov, Rohit Verma, Robert Woodbury, Jeffrey G. York, Jie Zhang

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