Resurrection City and architect John Wiebenson

NYT has been doing a great series recently, “Unpublished Black History From the New York Times Archives” and one of the latest articles fts reporting from the 1968, Poor People’s Campaign.

How many Archinectors out there are familiar with the story of “Resurrection City” (see this oral history via American Public Media).

Or the fact that “An architect designed rudimentary tents and wooden structures for temporary residents, and then came a city hall, a general store, a health clinic and a handful of celebrity visitors, including Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando and Barbra Streisand.

As far as I could tell from a quick search, neither of these topics have been mentioned in news or forums on Archinect.

Did some research and while there is some additional information out there about the architecture of “Resurrection City” there doesn’t seem to be tons…

Best/first – is a 1969 essay Wiebenson wrote in JAPA reflecting on his experience and how “Though temporary, Resurrection City is a useful model of the community development process in action.

Smithsonian Magazine – has a paragraph in an article about the larger movement.

MIT – has a photo of one of the A-frames with a plastic door, available via their digital archive.

WETA’s Boundary Stones blog – focuses more on the movement but has a couple of great photos.

A moving eulogy to the man, by Sam Smith long-time editor of DC Gazette (now the Progressive Review).

Anyone have tips for further reading?

Some photos

Credit: George Tames/The New York Times

 

Also

After my further reading, I suspect he and his work might be a bit more familiar to architects in DC area, as since 2003 AIA DC has awarded the Wieb Award (for Combining Good Architecture with Good Works).

An interesting side-note is that Wiebenson was the author of a comic strip, Archihorse (example below).

On and he is from Denver/CO originally, which I only learned after I read the above strip. Interesting to note that similar conversations continue today (see for example Denver Fugly) in Denver.

A while ago I started a (somewhat) related thread re: participatory-design/performance and political and ecological engagement in architecture and urbanism. Specifically within context of counter/sub-cultural movements of 1960s/70s.

Editor’s note: Cross-posted from Archinect (compare time stamps…)

re: why so much contemporary political revolt is oriented towards the infrastructural

The injustice of infrastructure is not only about lack…Sometimes there is too much infrastructure…Infrastructures reach across time, building uneven relations of the past into the future, cementing their persistence. In colonial and settler colonial contexts, infrastructure is often the means of dispossession, and the material force that implants colonial economies and socialities. Infrastructures thus highlight the issue of competing and overlapping jurisdiction — matters of both time and space.

More from Deborah Cowen (associate professor of geography at the University of Toronto),  via Verso Books

re: stack platforms aka “earth, cloud, city, address, interface, user”

Platforms offer a kind of generic universality, open to human and non-human users. They generate user identities whether the users want them or not. They link actors, information, events across times and spaces, across scales and temporalities. They also have a distinctive political economy: they exist to the extent that they generate a platform surplus, where the value of the user information for the platform is greater than the cost of providing the platform to those users

Via McKenzie Wark On Benjamin Bratton’s The Stack for Public Seminar

re: the logisticalization of contemporary supply chains,

For No. 43 / Shelf Life of Harvard Design Magazine, Clare Lyster (author of ‘Learning from Logistics: How Networks Change Our Cities’) wrote Storage Flows: Logistics as Urban Choreography.

Wherein she argues

To fully comprehend contemporary mechanisms of flow, we need to explore the manner in which logistics shrewdly appropriates other external networks and spaces as a means to enhance its supply chain operations. For example, many logistical networks hijack familiar forms of urban infrastructure to further conquer the spatiotemporal gap between supply and demand. Piggybacking on other systems to optimize flow by collapsing supply and distribution into one seamless system has many implications for the city, changing how distribution typologies appear in the urban landscape and thus the landscape itself.

Note: There are a number of spots where I assume “ow”/”ows” should be read, as a typo, as “flows”…

Also, no surprise that Alan Berger comes up. I immediately thought of his writings on the infrastructural leftover spaces or dross. The spaces/places where “Storage flows” happen. Transit through.

What is different today, in particular is the role of algorithms and digital flows.

 

re: Landscape architecture, Indigeneity studies and Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Rod Barnett published an essay over at Places Journal. He begins with the observation

Indigeneity is scarcely mentioned in the field’s seminal texts nor discussed in its conference halls and online forums….My project investigates how indigenous communities are represented (or not) in this process of contemporary American landscape-making.

He then draws on the work of Brian Davis

who places the modern practice of landscape architecture within the ‘long, sophisticated tradition of landscape-making in the Americas,’ thus establishing continuity and dissolving the boundaries between us and them, then and now.

to make the case for transculturation, decolonization and an awareness of the indigenous experience as a continual contact zone, as guiding principles for Designing Indian Country.

On a related note, this recent piece by Annalee Newitz for Ars Technica digs into the medieval city of Cahokia. As I noted elsewhere, the piece led me to recall a great post (also by Brian Davis) from 2011 re: mounds as “precedent for responding to floods.” and a pre-Contact form of indigenous #infrastructuralurbanism.

these processes of concentration and extension, and the churning of use and habitation patterns

Back in 2014 Diffusive Architectures explained The fallacy of the ‘urban age’ and why

To properly see, understand, talk about, and strategise for urbanisation, we need new ways to describe and map these processes of concentration and extension, and the churning of use and habitation patterns. ..

Plus, Courtney Humphries argued that By making “urban” synonymous with “city,” we miss the realities of where we live (ie: the peri-urban or suburban) and how our sprawling ways are changing the world. In other words,

What’s very clear is that we need a language and a finer-grain differentiation of different types of urban life and urban ecosystems