January 2010 Archives

By: Niki Lee Carlson, Graduate Student, University of Minnesota

One of the world's largest concentrations of brownfields exists in a region which contains parts of southwest Poland, the former East Germany, and North Bohemia, aptly known as the Black Triangle. Blame for this environmental devastation falls on communist coal consumption from 1948 to 1989, the impact of which was not only deforestation but also an explosion in the number of cancer cases in the region. This environmental egradation was so severe that it stimulated grassroots political action and motivated, in part, the revolutions that brought the Warsaw Pact to an end. With the fall of communism came massive layoffs and the closure of the largest tracts of factories and storage facilities in Europe.1 Today, although these nations are fully integrated in the global economy, they have only just begun to address the environmental and economic impacts of these brownfields.

Read this article in its entirety on page 16.


Guben, Germany. A power plant near the Polish border set near a recreational corridor.

A third year MLA student at the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture , Carlson is also a first year student in the Humphrey Institute's Master of Science, Technology and Environmental Policy program.

By: Aaron Westre, Graduate Student, University of Minnesota

We live in a culture of desire. Because of our consumerist longings, we bear daily witness
to a prolific stream of refuse and pollution. In our guilt, we have begun to act: we've called
on industry to clean itself up, we've incorporated recycling into our daily routines and we've started exploring greener energy sources. Meanwhile, our consumption has accelerated and shows no signs of slowing. In the face of this seemingly intractable problem, a growing
number of thinkers are shifting their focus away from culture and industry to another culprit: design. Since design drives the cycles of fashion and style that produce so much waste, shouldn't designers be responsible for finding a solution?

Read this article in its entirety on page 21.


Aaron Westre is a first year Master of Architecture student at the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. He has worked in the digital technology field for the past eleven years. His research interests include digital design and collaboration methods.

By: Rebecca Celis, Graduate Student, University of Minnesota
An interview with Janine Benyus

When it comes to new and innovative design, some of the best ideas come from the most ancient sources of the natural world. Take, for example, the waste-processing system of the termite. Their mounds, which, compared to their body size, are significantly larger than any of our most technologically advanced skyscrapers, are made from the cellulose "waste" of the forest. Termites process the wood with their own saliva to make a clay and wattle system that is both strong and naturally waterproof. That, says biomimicist and life scientist Janine Benyus, is a natural process that designers can emulate.

Read this article in its entirety on page 24.


Biomimicists look to natural processes like the waste processing systems of these termites as inspiration for design ideas.

Rebecca Celis is a thesis student at the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Her interview with Janine Benyus was par t of a biomimicry workshop held at the college in the Spring of 2005.

By: Aaron Kapphahn, Graduate Student, University of Minnesota

There has always been a need for architecture, just as there has also always been an architecture of need. We need structures for certain practices of our society. These practices, and often the architecture that is created to accommodate them is not glamorous. But these sorts of structures have been needed, and built throughout time. The Roman aqueducts, the iron bridges and train stations of the early twentieth century, and even the parking garages and power plants that concern us today all attest to the power of utility as a
driving force in architecture. If we are to discuss the architecture of utility, we must first define the two different meanings of utility. The first: utility as a state of being useful; the second: the moral and political rightness of an action is determined by its utility, defined by Jeremy Bentham as its contribution to the greatest good of the greatest number. This present examination of the architecture of utility is concerned with the tension between these two different meanings as they are embodied in the infrastructure of a particular
portion of the city of Minneapolis.

Read this article in its entirety on page 28.


Flowers amid discolored wire spools, 5th street north.

Aaron Kapphahn is a third year graduate student in the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota.

The Faces of Mary's Place

In October of 2003, the Wilder Research Center conducted a one-day study of homelessness throughout Minnesota. The Center found that 20,347 people were homeless or precariously housed on that one night. About half of them were children, and 59% were homeless for the first time in their lives.

Read this article in its entirety on page 34.


Jasmine, Hezekiah and Tamara Leflora

Home Among the Homeless

By: Thomas Fisher, Dean of the College of Design, University of Minnesota

On a side street near downtown Minneapolis, among older houses not far from a highway, there stands a modest, cream-colored church, whose basement serves as a food shelf during the day and as the Simpson Shelter for single homeless women at night. The food shelf has a door to the street, but to enter the shelter, you have to go down the alley behind the church and around the other side, to a narrow space next to a neighboring yard. There, you'll find an unmarked door that leads to the basement shelter. It may seem like a labyrinth getting there; but for a few dozen women, this is home.

Read this article in its entirety on page 39.


There, you'll find an unmarked door that leads to the basement shelter.

Thomas Fisher is Dean of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota. The former Editorial Director of Progressive Architecture Magazine.

By: James Wheeler, Graduate Student, University of Minnesota

You step out of the door of your residence. It is a location; a fixed place by geographical standards. It possesses an indicator of both street and number. It has a longitude, and latitude as well as a host of other positional paradigms common across the globe.

Read this article in its entirety on page 43.


Minneapolis waking up.

James Wheeler is a second year graduate student at the University of Minnesota College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

By: Sonja Sudheimer, Graduate Student, University of Minnesota

Two centuries ago, when the city of Minneapolis was not, and the State of Minnesota
was yet to be, the ground along what is now the corner of Third Avenue North and Third Street North was a muddy wetland with a creek running through it. This swatch of land was adjacent to the only natural falls on the Mississippi River, called MI-NO RORA (curling water) by the Dakota, and Kakabikah (the severed rock) by the Ojibwa. In 1680, Father Louis Hennepin renamed the waterfall St. Anthony Falls. The falls were important to the Dakota and the Ojibwa for their religious significance. For early white settlers, the falls were important as a source of power and profit. But the adjacent area, known loosely by several
names--Rapid Park, the Warehouse District, Heritage Park--was as unremarkable to the Native Americans as it later was to the European settlers.

Read this article in its entirety on page 50.


Prickly - space that is uncomfortable to occupy.

Sonja Sudheimer is a second year graduate student in the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota.

By: Richard Milgrom, Assistant Professor of City Planning, University of Manitoba

Waste in western contemporary societies consists of those materials that no longer have value to the market. Unfortunately, it is not much of a stretch to suggest that there is also human refuse -- those people who are not included in mainstream society and, perhaps more importantly are unable, or refuse, to participate in the market. Architecture and urban design are not currently being employed in ways that mitigate or afford a reduction in the growing gap between rich and poor in urban centers. Rather, design strategies are being deployed to allow the more affluent segments of society to defend themselves against the threat that they perceive those less fortunate present. Steve Earle's lyrics comment on this, suggesting that those responsible for this situation (and design is certainly implicated here) feel that they are doing the best they can, given the current political, economic and ideological situations, a situation that appears to pit those who have, against those who have not.

Read this article in its entirety on page 55.


Housing as Commodity. Suburban sales signs, Toronto Region.

Richard Milgrom is an architect, planner, urban designer and activist. His practice engages with issues of social and environmental justice.

By: Rosemary Dolata

The "search for shelter" is a continual quest, an ongoing journey of countless narratives. Each of us seeks refuge in a place of serenity, a home. For those with adequate means, there are many options. We live in houses, condominiums, apartments. We live with families, roommates, alone. What we share is the comfort of knowing that there is a place, though possibly very modest, where we belong - a place where we are safe.

Read this article in its entirety on page 62.


Students and professionals work together in the courtyard of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture to address the need for affordable housing.

Rosemary Dolata is a senior designer at LHB, where she focuses on affordable housing and sustainable design. She is an advisor for the "Minnesota Green Affordable Housing Guide" and a 2004-2005 Humphrey Forum Policy Fellow.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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