10.30.2012 Though the last couple of weeks have been spent offline, a few projects for There/Here continue to develop.
A 150-page book titled NTHNG MSSNG is in the works, and aims to go to press this winter! Organized as an adaptation of the There/Here building survey, its intent is to catalog an alternative glimpse of downtown Richmond. While vacant buildings are often viewed as a latent redevelopment opportunities, NTHNG MSSNG offers a moment to pause, and consider the life of these buildings, independent from how they could perform economically—or how they once performed economically. In cataloging these historic buildings, historic photographs will not be included. The subtitle explains that the book seeks to function as an artifact for the future, offering—"A New Then for the Future Now of Richmond's Downtown" (Above is a sample page about findings in the Foster Photo Studio). In addition to concise descriptions buildings, and some never before seen graphics and finds, it will also include a foreword by City of Richmond Planner and author T. Tyler Potterfield, photographs of dead banks by Brian Ulrich, and interviews with locals. In fact, get in touch if you would like to be interviewed!
One of these interviews will hopefully come from the Storefront for Community Design, which has engaged T/H in a project for their VCU student-driven MoB program. A group of four interior design, graphic design, and fashion design students are in the process of mapping vacant urban assets in Richmond's Union Hill, and similarly address the issue of vacancy beyond economic performance. One contributor to the project has envisioned the surrounding grid of the city intersecting with the unique geometry of Union Hill, revealing an even more eccentric geometry that cuts through houses and creates odd sites for imaginations to dwell.
A visit to Baltimore this weekend will offer an even wider perspective on vacant asset mapping. The New Public Sites (NPS) project, led by self-proclaimed "radical cartographer" Graham Coreil-Allen, was a contributor to the American pavilion, Spontaneous Interventions, at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennial. In the spirit of Venturi & Scott Brown's Learning from Las Vegas, NPS (which cleverly shares the National Park Service's acronym) offers free walking tours through what some may consider the armpits of postmodern urbanism. Coreil-Allen, however, has turned popular postmodern critiques of "placelessness" on their head, by privileging places like traffic islands as new archetypes of public space. The next NPS tour will take place on November 3 at 3 p.m., and begin at the MICA Graduate Studio Center (113 W. North Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201).