Miniature Town: Elgin Park


Michael Paul Smith’s Elgin Park—a miniature fictional town—is as complex as the creator and self-proclaimed mayor. Smith pairs his talent for model building with a point and shoot camera to create strikingly realistic images of a bygone time.  As detailed in the short documentary Elgin Park, Smith reveals his lifetime struggle with depression as well as his immense gratitude for his life. Smith embraces these complexities in Elgin Park, weaving positive memories alongside the tragic. Smith describes the creation of Elgin Park as therapeutic through the exercise of imagination and the cultivation of memory to create “3-D memories.”

Source: City Lab

The Life of a Square


Failed Architecture’s case study of Rose Revolution Square in Tbilisi, Georgia looks at the square through the lens of political power and its effect on public space and commerce.  The study parallels the life of a hotel overlooking the square and the square itself.  The hotel has functioned as an enclave for the elites of Eastern Europe in the 1960s, the home of 800 Abkhazian refugees during the country’s civil war in the early 1990s, and currently as part of a five star international chain hotel. Failed Architecture pairs archival and present-day photos with social and political history to catalog fifty years of change.

Source: Failed Architecture

We Own the City


CITIES magazine has launched their second book We Own the City: Enabling Community Practices in Architecture and Planning to chronicle people-driven urban initiatives. The book aims to chronicle grass roots driven urban development—in an effort to bridge the “bottom-up” with the “top-down”—through the discovery of mutually supportive development practices. Practices are taught using case studies from five major cities of the global north: Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Moscow, New York City, and Taipei. For further exploration check out We Own the City: Enabling Community Practices in Architecture and Planning at The University of Texas at Austin Architecture and Planning Library.

Source: Pop-Up City

Tiny House Villages


Journalist Tim Murphy has written an in-depth piece on tiny house villages. The piece examines the intersection of national housing trends and the varied opportunities that lie in the tiny house movement. The tiny house village is informed by tent cities that gained prominence in the Great Depression as well as the most recent recession and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Leaders within the tiny house village movement would like to offer alternatives to tent cities through the village model by offering permanent and legal facilities, while at the same time, retaining the sense of independence and community that exists within tent cities. The article mentions several villages across the country including Austin’s own Community First! Village.

Source: Buzzfeed

Erasing Expression

Outrage has ensued since Chinese authorities scrubbed away street art in a soon-to-be-razed neighborhood in Shanghai’s central Jingan district. The recent removal follows the removal of one of the last walls designated for legal street art in Shanghai in 2013, leading some residents to believe these removals are acts of creative suppression. Authorities deny these allegations claiming to have erased the art because of safety concerns.

As the authorities raze and sanitize, a counter culture grows in opposition opening up the possibility for authenticity to emerge from neglect and rubble. In response, artists’ transform the character chai—which demolishers scrawl on buildings to signal which ones will be torn down—into fruit growing on trees, quietly reminding admirers the beauty that can grow from destruction.

Source: CityLab

Spring 2015 Exhibition Opening | Restoring Cultural Monuments: Oaxaca, Mexico


The images on display document restoration projects of the Open Chapel at Teposcolula (1995-1999) and Santo Domingo de Guzmán Monastery (1994- 2000).

Join us for the opening of the School of Architecture Visual Resources Collection’s Spring 2015 exhibition “Restoring Cultural Monuments: Oaxaca, Mexico.” Assistant Professor
Benjamin Ibarra Sevilla contributed to the VRC’s collection the images featured in this exhibition documenting the restoration of Santo Domingo de Guzmán and the Open Chapel of Teposcolula in Oaxaca, Mexico.

WHEN: February 17, 2015 from 2-4 pm
WHERE: VRC, Sutton 3.128

Refreshments will be served.

Image Source: School of Architecture Visual Resources Collection

Iced Flowers


Life and preservation are juxtaposed in botanical artist Azuma Makoto’s most recent installation, Iced Flowers. Makoto freezes bouquets of exotic flowers in blocks of ice, essentially freezing the flowers in time—halting the natural process of decay.  As the ice renders the flowers lifeless it simultaneously preserves the beauty attributed to a flower full of life. Azuma permits the natural cycle of life to reengage by allowing the ice to melt, leading to the plants’  succumbing to decay. Makoto’s most recent project carries on his tradition of challenging the life and place of a plant, from pieces that propel plants into space to stuffing them into bottles to replicate a birthday cake of massive proportion.

Source: Spoon & Tamago

A Comprehensive Survey of Chicago’s Built Environment


Chicago Architecture Data has launched a citywide survey that records Chicago’s built environment, documenting the built history and characteristics of distinct Chicago buildings. By surveying the built environment one can identify historical development styles as well as neighborhoods’ cultural narratives. Chicago Architecture Data enhances this understanding through partnering with Chicago Patterns, which provides a deeper context through photographs and histories of buildings.

Source: Chicago Architecture Data

Homage or Prototype? The Untold Influence of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Apprentice

Peters-Margedant House

Peters-Margedant House, Evansville, Indiana

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian homes are likely his most ubiquitous contribution to the world of residential design. Clients from diverse economic backgrounds were able to commission designs by one of the most famous architects of the time.  But, what if the first Usonian home was not built by Wright?

In 1935 Frank Lloyd Wright’s first apprentice at Taliesin, Wes Peters, designed and built a structure in his hometown of Evansville, IN—two years before Wright built his first Usonian home. The Peters-Margedant house is a modest 522 square feet with a central fireplace as its focal point. Preservation Nation and Preservation Alliance of Evansville are raising awareness of this tiny gem to halt its removal from the property and attend to its restoration. Controversy is arguably the most effective catalyst for recognition and change.

Source: Preservation Nation

Photogrammar: Revolutionizing Database Retrieval of Photographs

These women drilled a wing bulkhead for a transport plane at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant in Fort Worth in 1942. Credit Howard R. Hollem / Library of Congress

These women drilled a wing bulkhead for a transport plane at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant in Fort Worth in 1942.
Credit Howard R. Hollem / Library of Congress

Archiving, navigating, and sharing visual media historically has challenged the information repository world. As more historic images are digitized every day the need for methods of easy searching has never been greater. A team at Yale University has created an ingenious site to search within the Library of Congress’ (LC) vast image database. The result is an easily navigable interactive map where viewers can search—170,000 images from 1935-1945—on a county by county, country-wide basis.

North Texas Public Media outlet—KERA News—highlights images specific to Texas during the Great Depression and Wartime. Use the map to search historic images of a favorite destination or hometown.

Source: Kera News

Master Darkroom Printer: Behind the Safelight

Before and After by Pablo Inirio - Master Printer

Before and After of Dennis Stock’s iconic image of James Dean  – Master Printer Pablo Inirio

As analog photographers know, sometimes there is just that one shot, at just that one time, that can never be recreated but the exposure is bad. In the current Photoshop era and the relative ease of digital manipulation it brings, it stands to reason that a great number of photographers are not aware of the pains taken by darkroom printers to make the final, perfect image. Online photography journal PetaPixel published an illuminating look into the significant lengths Master Printer Pablo Inirio goes to render the best possible image from a negative. The image on the left shows an untouched test print with exhaustive notes on dodge and burn areas complete with different exposures. The juxtaposition of these images display the true beauty of an image and the delicate attention to detail a Master Printer brings to the process.

Source: PetaPixel