Friday, January 21, 2011

Quote of the Day (1/21/10) plus special bonus.

If you haven't already, please join our Reddit feed. It displays here on the sidebar but not terribly reliably thanks to the bugginess of the tool, so the only way to really keep up with what we're posting is to go directly to our feed. If you join it you can engage in discussion. We update the feed many times a day.

Today I'm starting a new feature that derives from the Reddit feed. I'll post from time to time a juicy quote that I think is particularly interesting from one of the articles on the feed. Today we start with a great piece on supermax prisons from the New Humanist UK:
"The regime of relentless solitary confinement and tight prisoner control in a typical supermax is made possible by prison architects. Without their professional knowledge and careful calculation and assessment of every design detail, it would not have been possible to hold hundreds of prisoners in complete isolation from each other within a single, relatively small, building for prolonged periods."
I found that interesting for the obvious reasons, but also because that quote reminds me of an exchange I had on the generally fascinating BLDG BLOG a couple years ago. In response to an article called "Corridors of Power" about the building of a new National Security Agency data center, that pondered how to integrate it better into the community through architecture, I posted the following comment:
"I think it would be refreshing if architects were to draw a strict line here: anyone who works on a project like this (and who does not sabotage it) may as well be working on a concentration camp. Likewise those who work on prisons or who work on police stations. There is no way to make the relationships of the community to these things more mutually beneficial. By definition they are the enemies of human freedom and, last I checked, communities are made up of humans. Whatever poor sap does design them would be doing us all a favor if they designed them to look like mosquitoes, bats or some other similarly-evocative creepy-crawly, because that's exactly what they are. Some truth in design would be great. Or, perhaps for further inspiration, may I suggest to the designer a theme out of 1984 as inspiration: a boot stamping on a human face forever. Architects are fooling themselves if they think they can work on these projects and have a clear conscience."
When the blame is finally apportioned once and for all, how much will fall on the architects? From Haussman's redesign of revolutionary Paris to the architects that pioneered Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, of which the city of Tempe is at the forefront -- or was before the building boom here collapsed under it's own bloated yuppie weigh -- the echoes of design reverberate through our lives whether we know it or not. Certainly they are anything but non-political.


So if you hung in there through the new feature, check the right sidebar for preliminary details about this month's Beer and Revolution. Sunday January 30th at 7:00, upstairs at Boulders on Broadway as usual, PCWC presents a discussion on the anarchist and indigenous struggle in Chile. More details will follow in a day or so. Please check back! This promises to be another great one! Bottomless pizza and, if we're lucky, a beer special this time. We look forward to seeing you there!

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