american west

desert america @ columbia university gsapp

On Monday, November 20, 2006 at 6:30pm, I will be speaking as part of the American launch of Desert America: Territory of Paradox , a new book from ACTAR in which I have a piece about the Mojave desert and SpaceShipOne while AUDC analyzes the instant city of Quartzsite, Arizona.

The press release follows:

Desert America takes on the discussion of the American desert as a space of extreme uses and activities. The desert is a huge paradox: beneath the immensity and silence of its outward appearance, the traces of all kinds of activities, experiments, mysteries, fictions and utopias can be heard. Far from being “empty,” the desert is full of an uninhibited, excessive activity that encompasses everything from oases of entertainment to the secret staging of military power. The most hostile and seemingly uninhabitable of environments turns out to be an ideal setting for action.

Speakers:

Michael Bell, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ARCHITECTURE, GSAPP
Sanford Kwinter, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ARCHITECTURE, RICE UNIVERSITY
Kate Orff, DIRECTOR, URBAN LANDSCAPE RESEARCH LAB, GSAPP
Kazys Varnelis, DIRECTOR, NETWORK ARCHITECTURE LAB, GSAPP
Moderated by Michael Kubo, DIRECTOR, ACTAR NEW YORK

Event co-sponsored by ACTAR to celebrate the publication of its new title, Desert America: Territory of Paradox.

Baran's Revenge: Underground Cold War Nerve Center Retired

Built to withstand nuclear attack during the Cold War, NORAD's underground nerve center in Cheyenne Mountain is being retired. See this article from CNN, from which the following quote is taken:

"In today's Netted, distributed world we can do very good work on a broad range of media right here," Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said from his Peterson headquarters. "Right there at that desk, including one push-button to the president."

It only took forty-two years for Paul Baran's insights about the greater survivability of distributed communications in crisis situations to be realized.

The Next Googleplex

Is exurbia the next frontier for massive digital infrastructure projects? The New York Times explores the construction of the Googleplex on a remote site in The Dalles, Oregon, on the banks of the Columbia River. Google paid $1.3 million for 30 acres! They're going to be paying a lot more to hook up fiber to the grid out there. Is this a response to the concentrated nature of telecoms in cities? Of course, if you have sufficient means, any place can be made a command and control center for the global city. Silicon Valley was once farmland as well.

CLUI and Its Friends

Critical Spatial Practice put together an impressive list of the various individuals (including yours truly and AUDC that move in and around the Center for Land Use Interpretation. I'd love to see a Mark Lombardi map of this information.

Quartzsite in Cabinet

The spring issue of Cabinet Magazine is out, featuring a project that Robert Sumrell and I did on Quartzsite, Arizona at our two-man collaborative AUDC.

From Apples to A-Bomb Blasts

Future Feeder carries a piece on the work of MIT's Harold E. "Doc" Edgerton. Best known for his 1964 photograph of a bullet piercing an apple, by that point Edgerton's work with stroboscopic photography had led the Atomic Energy Commission to hire him to take high speed photographs of nuclear fireballs. In order to record such photographs, Edgerton's firm EG&G would wind up building nuclear triggers and eventually became the prime contractor of the Nevada Test Site.
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