CHANGE OBSERVER : PHOTO BY ABELARDO MORELL
39 Gold Bars: $15,372,742 (11 AM/GMT-3/13/08): $988.25/oz Zurich, Switzerland, 2008
PLACES : MABEL O. WILSON, PETER TOLKIN
Architects Mabel O. Wilson and Peter Tolkin traveled to Ghana to research the legacy of tropical modernism — the architecture constructed from the 1950s to the '70s, just as British colonial rule was ending and the independent nation was being established. They found a complex story. In contemporary Ghana the social ideals of mid-century have given way to an "ethos that promotes either signature forms or a mundane corporate aesthetic." And yet the earlier sensibility, "internationalism tempered by local conditions," is more meaningful than ever. As part of our ongoing collaboration with the Studio-X Global Initiative at Columbia, we are pleased to present Listening There.
CHANGE OBSERVER : JADE DRESSLER
"AMAZElab is a nonprofit organization that focuses on cultural production and social engineering. Mobility, migration, memory, borders, new geographies, the Mediterranean area and the Middle East, the public sphere and sustainability are our areas of interest. We collaborate with national and international institutions to explore territorial and social change."
CHANGE OBSERVER : JANE MARGOLIES
There may be places in this country where top-down Robert Moses–style experts-know-best planning is still alive and well, but Brattleboro, Vermont, is most definitely not one of them.
PLACES : DEBORAH GANS
Months after the category 7 earthquake that leveled cities and towns and left more than a million homeless, Haiti is struggling to rebuild — and to rebuild not just settlements but also the nation's governance and economy. Architect Deborah Gans, who has studied how refugee camps can be transformed into agrarian villages, argues for a renewal based upon decentralized resettlement and a revived agro-forestry economy — which accords, as she notes, with the vision outlined in the national action plan for recovery. As she writes, "The future map of Haiti could appear a verdant landscape dotted with regional hubs connected by a web of transportation lines to restructured and enhanced port cities.
OBSERVATORY : JOSHUA GLENN
I started collecting Cold War-era (i.e., from the end of WWII through détente) "X" paperbacks when I was 12 years old. From the pulp fiction pile in my grandfather's summer house in Maine, I smuggled home a 1945 Pocket Book edition of Philip MacDonald's Warrant for X
. I didn't want to read it; I was obsessed with the free-standing "X" on its cover: two swipes of red paint topped by two narrower swipes of white
OBSERVATORY : JAN CONRADI
He is an extrovert. Gregarious, outspoken, delighted to work the crowd that is usually equally delighted to be in the room with him. She is poised, quieter, more reserved, less comfortable with the spotlight though no less deserving of its shine. Together they are confident in their choices, earnest in their vision, and determined to create something lasting in a profession that is too often ephemeral.
OBSERVER MEDIA : KATHY BREW AND ROBERTO GUERRA
This video is a series of small excerpts from a film in progress: Design is One — The Vignellis
, directed and produced by Kathy Brew and Richard Guerra. Here is a glimpse into the work of Lella and Massimo Vignelli — and everyday moments from their world.
CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE
Report on Kiva, the pioneering microfinance site, which won a 2009 INDEX award for humanitarian design.
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2006
In the Seattle Public Library, Rem Koolhaas and OMA work to transform architecture into media interface.