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Expeditions in Research, vol. 2

Big Dig, Boston Government Service Center, and Farnsworth House

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned how I was obsessed with Copley Square, Raymond Loewy, and Edith Hand. On all those fronts I'm working with the National Archives and the Library of Congress to organize their papers so I can make a trip to review them...probably not so soon, but within the next few months.

It's very excited to work with people who get very excited about research and using their archives.

Here's some more Boston items, and an old house with a convoluted past.

The Big Dig

You should be listening to WGBH's podcast about Boston’s Big Dig – it's a multi-part podcast which stretches all the way back to the 1970's freeway revolt, and sets the stage for why and how the Big Dig came about.

I lived in Boston during the Dig, and I worked near Fort Point channel, so I was able to daily watch the construction workers build the immersion tunnels, and then watched them float it out in the the water. I also was able to drive on the the elevated Central Artery - which I'm glad is now more, but I wish that instead of giant surface roads, the city chose to rebuild the urban fabric which was destroyed by the central artery.

Listen via Apple, Spotify, or Google

Boston Government Service Center

Speaking of urban renewal, I rewatched the Departed and the Boston Government Service Center prominently featured as a set piece. It was designed by enigmatic Mid Century Modernist Paul Rudolph as part of a larger urban renewal of the civic center area. It's both amazing, and pretty terrifying piece of work. It's also been fairly empty for some time, and there's been rumblings of tearing it down or redeveloping it.

Farnsworth House

I also was able to conduct an interview with the head of the Edith Farnsworth house (wikipedia), which was both a treat and also presents an editing conundrum since there is so much good there that it could be a solid hour pod or I will have to break it up.

One thing to note about this house: Mies was...difficult to work with and acted as the contractor to build the house. Which I didn't know, and it's no wonder that it went so over budget. Architects generally shouldn't be their own contractor. And the story of the house got twisted up in some unfortunate mid century patriarchy, with too much speculator of who has what type of relationship with whom.
Again...I'm not sure where any of this is going, but it's nice to explore a bit.

Past Episodes

008 Colin Kelly – Better Bin

Colin Kelly is one part of the NYC-based design firm Group Project, who won the competition for the new Better Bin, to replace the ubiquitous green wire mesh litter bins around New York City. We speak about the state of waste collection in NYC, the design ideas and the prototype process behind Better Bin, and what happens when a group of friends suddenly need to become a real company when they become finalists for a massive design competition.

007 Shaun Mosley – Research is Caring

Shaun Mosley is a Designer / Researcher at Nava Public Benefit Corporation. With eight years of experience in Product Design, he applies technology in order to create a more equitable society. As an active member of the civic tech community, Shaun fills his time pushing for prison abolition, mentoring new technologists through Code for Atlanta, and making Georgia the best state for Black people to live in.

Episode 006 Sandra Rothbard – freight matters

Why are there so many trucks on our streets these days? It’s your fault buttercup, you create freight everyday. In this episode we speak with freight expert Sandra Rothbard, who is an urban planner specializing in freight transportation.

After working for public agencies in NYC on city logistics, disaster preparedness and solid waste management, she now supports public, private and non-profit organizations around the world as an independent consultant. She focuses on building sustainable, resilient and safe streets, healthy communities and efficient and economic supply chains.

Episode 005: Graham Rossmore – Curbs for People

In this episode we speak with parking expert Graham Rossmore, who helped Los Angeles shift their temporary outdoor dining program to a permanent feature, allowing a greater use of curb and parking space than just car storage. His work found that areas with Al Fresco dining generated an increase of $12 million in gross sales in 2022 compared to 2019. We also speak about new ways to use the city, which just so happens to be how we used to use the city before cars became the dominant form of transportation.

004 Karen Kubey – Cities of Imagination

Karen Kubey, Assistant Professor, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto, speaks about housing justice, how we need to design for abundance, we don’t live in policy, and how housing supply is part of a larger toolbox to provide housing for all.

003 Joanne Cheung:Cities Book of Play

Cities are sites of aspirations and identities, and ‘play’ can be a means for fostering community engagement. Architect and urbanist Joanne Cheung critiques the prevailing forms of community engagement, suggesting that they are often paternalistic and fail to adequately consider the agency of individuals and communities. Joanne further discuss the implications of power imbalances, the need for co-creation, and how play can act as a ‘scaffolding’ for discussing democratic representation. Play has often become commodified causing an unequal power dynamics in society. Joanne suggests the Cities for Play is but a scaffold in tackling very hard problems democratically, and calls for meaningful engagement through more community-oriented spaces for collective action and creativity.

Tom Badley – Offline Cash

Graphic designer and artist Tom Badley shares with us his journey practicing as both a designer and artist, banknote design, digital art, his design of Offline Cash, and his book, Art & Money.

Cincinnati’s West End with Josh Junker

Urbanist and activist Josh Junker (twitter) talks with us about the destruction of Cincinnati’s West End.

For sale

Of course, you can still purchase copies of the pamphlet here:

Issue 3: Home Coming

Issue 3: Home Coming
About our coming and going from home.


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Issue 2: Scorching

This issue is about Scorching, how we change the climate, and the climate changes us.

$8.00 $5.00

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Issue 2: Scorching
Thanks for reading. See you soon!

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