Trumping the Triangle

For more than two centuries Washington has struggled to reconcile the lofty ideals of the national capital with the quotidian dealings of a contested city. No site reveals these tensions more fully than the Federal Triangle. In July 1790 the U.S. Congress, meeting in its first session in Federal Hall in New York City, passed

Trumping the Triangle II (1883 -2016)

1883: Sensation Decades before the extensive land clearances that made way for the Federal Triangle, redevelopment pressures were already transforming one particular block along Pennsylvania Avenue. Identified in Ellicott’s survey as “block #323,” this parcel of land is arguably the apotheosis of the uneasy coexistence of the architectural ideal of “national dignity” and the prosaic


with a B.Arch. in 1968. 1 Yet he decided while still in college to become an artist, and his métier became uselessness, fracture, and the renegade inhabitation of urban space. His professional life was packed into a hectic period between his return to his native New York City from Cornell in 1969, and his death

Open and Shut

Two recent books offer compelling perspectives on the contentious debate between private interest and public good, and raise provocative questions about an activist agenda for the design professions. NANCY LEVINSON In October 2013, much of the government of the United States was shut down for sixteen days as Congress fought over funding for the Affordable

Maintenance and Care

A working guide to the repair of rust, dust, cracks, and corrupted code in our cities, our homes, and our social relations. This is not an article about how the world is breaking down. We all see it, of course: the sudden collapse of dams and bridges; the slow deterioration of power grids and sewer

The Shape of Space

“The sky starts at your feet. Think how brave you are to walk around.”— Anne Herbert “Space is not only high, it’s low. It’s a bottomless pit.”— Sun Ra Buckminster Fuller had an unusual way of talking about stairs. Instead of downstairs and upstairs, he encouraged people to say instairs and outstairs. “They all laugh about it,” he wrote, “But if

UN-building Gender

Jack Halberstam is a recipient of the Arcus/Places Prize, which supports innovative public scholarship on gender, sexuality, and the built environment. The form of embodiment that, in the 20th and 21th centuries, we have come to call transgender is not simply a gender switching, a wrong body replaced by a right body, a shift in

Marcel Breuer and the Invention of Heavy Lightness

Marcel Breuer’s devotion to the lightweight, even the weightless, was heralded in his determined search for new and ever more minimized forms for furniture during his student years in the Weimar Bauhaus and even more once he became master of the furniture workshops at the Dessau Bauhaus. For the school’s auditorium, Breuer designed folding chairs

Imperial War Museum’s war planning revealed in new display

Art in Exile shows how museum prioritised artworks to remove from London for protection As the second world war approached, Britain’s national museums had to decide what to move out of London. For the Imperial War Museum, it was obvious: paintings by William Orpen and Sir John Lavery. Documents which shine light on the museum’s war planning