University of Illinois Chicago
This piece received a Notable mention because it had the best last line in the 2013 Writing & Commentary Student category.
Both articles examine issues of preservation, reuse, renovation and opportunistic architecture in the urban environment. The first piece looks at the trend of American pharmacy chains to rehabilitate abandoned bank buildings, and the second discusses the perception of a Brutalist university campus as it slowly transformed by additions and subtractions.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Both pieces where written as part of a larger personal project looking at the operative criticism as a way of informing design. With a strong culture of writing and publishing at my university, and as a candidate for a Masters of Art and Design Criticism, these pieces were written within the context of peer and faculty review. Both pieces where published on the Archinect website, with a large international readership.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
The pieces fit into a large project that is investigating how contemporary criticism can be leveraged within today's media outlets. In a world of twitter, blogs, tumblr, and instagram, criticism must change to stay relevant. Rather than simple review of design, my belief is that criticism can still serve a vital roll in design as an operative informer.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The choice of topics I choose to write about are usually taken from the urban context in which I live. The first step to the writing is finding a design condition that seems to have some latent aspect that is not being discussed. After initial thoughts are sorted out, some historical information is sought out and placed within the general argument. More importantly, each piece is surrounded by a larger conversation that involves discussion, peer review, and debate among my colleagues. That conversation starts well before the writing and lasts through the writing process, and than often continues well beyond the finished piece (sometimes informing the start of the next piece or resulting in rebuttal/complimentary pieces by peers). This process is just part of a larger culture that involves critical writing and design projects revolving around the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois Chicago student and faculty body.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
In time when design criticism needs to adapt to an information world where everyone and no one is an expert, it is my hope that pieces like these can inform a direction for a accessible yet informed criticism. Though it is hard to imagine a greater movement to ever direct design as Modernism did, that does not mean that design as a whole can't become more critical of itself. The hope of these pieces is to show a way to an optimistic and opportunistic criticism that can inform design.