Latest Articles in Essay

garrett morin sound design urae

Sound Design

Years ago, the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas won a design competition for an addition to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) by suggesting the entire museum be torn down and replaced. There was such an outcry over the idea of demolishing this collection of unremarkable but well-loved buildings that Ruth Seymour, the general manager of KCRW, the leading NPR station in Los Angeles, California, suggested we debate the pros and cons on a half-hour show called Politics of Culture. She asked me—a producer at KCRW and a freelance design writer—to moderate.
March 24, 2010
mike perry complex story urae

A Complex Story

My father’s prefabricated housing project, Habitat ’67, broke ground in April of 1965. The building, which grew out of his bachelor’s thesis, came to be regarded as one of the touchstone buildings of Montreal’s Expo ’67. There are many twists and turns in the story of how the building came to be, but, simply stated, it was born at the fortuitous juncture of social and political change, Canada’s coming-of-age as a progressive country, and a young architect’s naive determination to realize his vision.
March 23, 2010
underdone essay


At least 19 unfinished renovation projects currently reside within the crotchety old puzzle box of a house that I share with my wife, Keri. Together, the 21 of us live in a spirit of communal acceptance—an unlikely family, but a family nonetheless.  
March 20, 2010
western promises

Western Promises

William McDonough + Partners’ design for a small village in northeastern China was meant to stand as a model for sustainable development. Instead, it proves that the pursuit of better design should never lose sight of context and culture.
March 16, 2010
kisho kurokawa illustration

Time Capsule

The impending demolition of Kisho Kurokawa’s Capsule Tower strikes a nostalgic nerve in writer Tom Vanderbilt, who travels to Tokyo for a look at a future that never was.
March 11, 2010
amze emmons the good earth 02

The Good Earth

As the war-torn city of Kabul, Afghanistan, is transformed into a maze of blast walls, military checkpoints, and foreign bases, how might security architecture be changed to foster psychological stability?
March 11, 2010
The boxes of Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67 were precast in concrete before being joined together onsite. Originally made for Montreal’s Expo in 1967, the apartment building is still very much in use.

The Prefab Decade

Founding Dwell editor-in-chief Karrie Jacobs visited MoMA's Home Delivery exhibition and finds that prefab might not change our homes, but it could change our architects.
March 9, 2010
neutra essay illustration

Neutra Territory

Richard Neutra's son Raymond examines the internal architecture of his legendary father through a 1958 Berkeley psychological study.
February 9, 2010
Frank Lloyd Wright was the first modern architect to design a Universalist church. He volunteered to design a replacement for Unity Church in Oak Park, Illinois, the morning after it burned down. The result is the beloved Unity Temple.

Sunday Styles

The cathedrals, mosques, and synagogues of the Old World still occupy the most hallowed ground of ecclesiastical architecture, but a rather unorthodox American sect can lay claim to the best in modern sacred space design: the Unitarian Universalists.
November 4, 2009