Issue 21: of the Avery Review

Because here’s the thing—architecture is always complicit, Trump or no Trump. It always has been. Architecture coordinates colossal expenditures (of material, of energy); it scripts forms of labor (in its construction, in its operation, and in the programs it houses); it is both a repository and generator of capital. Architecture participates, centrally, in defining modes of life, whether for the privileged or the dispossessed—designing and building the boundaries between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” sometimes subtly. Recognizing these complicities need not inspire either nihilism (“Well, what can I do about it?”) or defensiveness (“What am I supposed to do about it?”), but should rather be understood, quite simply, as the terrain we navigate. Naming these complicities and the injustices they perpetuate is a first step toward addressing them.

In which Manuel Shvartzberg CarrióTeddy Cruz and Fonna Forman, Anna Lui and Ananya Roy argue why “understanding Trump requires understanding Schumacher” and further, the importance of “understanding of the hegemonic articulations of infrastructure“, or how “managerialism is hegemonic because modern infrastructures operationalize, pre-empt, co-opt, channel, and distribute—that is, they manage power—by design“. Plus, praise for Keller Easterling’s ‘Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space’.  A call for “Unwalling Citizenship” and a reading of the catalog/book of the exhibition ‘After Belonging‘. Also, reflections on #NotMyAIA, “ontologies of professional expertise“, normalization, the “infrastructure of assent“, “logics of white supremacy and patriarchy…“, the “politics of divestment“.

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Jacob Lawrence, The Migration of the Negro, panel no. 15, 1940–41. © The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society [ARS], New York.

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.

Proposing the “Healthy Waters for the 21st Century Act,” or H21

In the winter issue, #27, of Democracy (a Journal of Ideas) George S. Hawkins explores how “Four decades after the Clean Water Act’s passage…To ensure that our waters remain clean for another 40 years, we need to update the Clean Water Act for a new era“.

He also identifies some key features of this enhanced approach, which include;  targeting  “nonpoint-source pollution” (such as agricultural runoff), techniques for “low-impact development” and new watershed level fees or taxes.

Mr. Hawkins argues, H21 would actually have positive economic benefit(s) as a result of a new attention to infrastructure and a corresponding shift “from expensive capital projects to decentralized installation of water quality protection at thousands of individual suburban and rural parcels accentuates a key economic change“.

architecture treats infrastructure as its object of desire

Kazys Varnelis via quaderns

A criticism “As practised, however, infrastructural urbanism has drifted away from such forward-looking ideals and indulged itself in an unhealthy relationship with modernism. Too frequently, contemporary infrastructural urbanism consists mainly of modern infrastructure retrofitted for the purposes of tourism.

And then an extortion “It is time for architects to understand that the structures of infrastructural modernity are just so many ruins and, in conceiving of new infrastructures for the millennium, to learn how to embrace the new modulated world of invisible fields.

Kazys Varnelis: Infrastructural Fields, Quaderns #261