All posts filed under: Opinion

Not Enough: A Lack of Diversity May Kill Architecture

By Ricardo Chavez (B.Arch candidate) | This essay is a polemical exploration of diversity within the architectural profession. Tracking the career path of a young professional, the author examines the role of educational and professional bodies in promoting diversity within the profession. The argument is simple: without diversity, the architectural profession will die a slow death in the new millennium.   The discipline of architecture prides itself on being a vessel for culture, science, and humanity. Yet as a field of practice, architecture faces a dilemma that reaches back to one’s high school years and tracks through the time spent at university and in the work force. That issue is a lack of diversity. According to Design Intelligence, only 1.7 percent of licensed architects are minorities, and even fewer are African American or Hispanic. Critics argue that architecture may be heading toward a point of sterilization due to the lack of innovation and culture that is associated with a homogenous work force. Throughout its history, the field of architecture has been plagued with the perception that the rank of ‘professional architect’ is reserved …

After AIDS: Re-creating Queer Space

By Lucas Flint (B.Arch candidate) | This essay examines the reemergence of queer spaces in Charlotte after the nadir of queer culture in the 1970s and the AIDS scare of the 1980s. It compares the spatial typologies and lighting designs of two local venues–The Scorpio and Cathode Azure–to substantiate the multiple approaches of such contemporary spaces.   Queer space is essential to the development of cities, although much of the evidence supporting this claim has only been researched in the past century. As queers achieved greater liberty to create a public identity in the United States after the Stonewall Riots1, the queer community wielded a greater capacity to establish its own place in society. There was no interest in creating new spaces or moving en masse to the suburbs, but rather a revitalization of the city occurred; historically, the city has been the primary place that the queer community had visibly thrived. Queer space was initially defined as the intimate space resulting from the secret rendezvous between partners, better known as cruising. This space is ephemeral, disappearing as spontaneously …

The Divisions of Overstreet Mall

By Alexandra Wagner (B.Arch candidate) | This essay examines the pros and cons of Uptown Charlotte’s Overstreet Mall. As indicated by its name, this piece of infrastructure places retail above the street, which serves the many employees of the city’s office towers. However, this organization also robs the street of its vital character, which has not been fully replaced since the implementation of this urban infrastructure.   In the traditional sense, the urban street is a colorful place of social mixing and processional space. It sets the tone of the urban fabric and acts as a connecting thread between buildings, nodes, and districts. As one meanders through Uptown Charlotte, however, a distinct sense of quiet is noted along the faces of Tryon and College Street. Hovering above is network of skywalks connecting Uptown’s corporate structures. Inside the traveler is presented with a plethora of eateries and circulation elements, with an occasional empty boutique to draw the eye. The Overstreet Mall, as it’s known to local residents, is an embodiment of Charlotte’s attempt to match its lack …

Mass Transit and the Future of the American City

By Matthew Moore (B.Arch candidate) | This essay argues that mass transit systems are the only realistic and viable option to mend a dispersed and broken city. It leverages Glenn Yago’s analysis of the benefits of mass transit to imagine a more integrated future for Charlotte, North Carolina. The introduction of the automobile became a key component to the decline of the public transit system. Once manufacturers were founded to support the growing demand of personalized and individual automobiles, growth of related industries were prompted as well creating an industrial district around the periphery of the city. Oil, rubber, metal, glass and mining industries soon followed and demanded the need for the expansion of paved highways and streets in order to arrive at work. In the midst of a post-war economy, the automobile and suburban home with its white picket fence became a sign of freedom, though a freedom only existing outside of the city. Beginning in the 1800’s the American city has seen numerous modes and styles of mass transportation throughout its history, ranging from horse-drawn buggies to electric …

The Cost of Development in Allentown

By Alex Shuey (B.Arch candidate) | This essay critiques Gensler’s recent design for Five City Center, a new development for Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone. It considers the pros and cons of this development in the face of nearly four decades of working class occupation within the city. “Well we’re living here in Allentown And they’re closing all the factories down Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time Filling out forms Standing in line Well our fathers fought the Second World War Spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore Met our mothers in the USO Asked them to dance Danced with them slow And we’re living here in Allentown” -Billy Joel, Allentown (1982) Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) has generated compliments as well as controversy since its creation in 2009. Re-development of existing buildings as well as the construction of new projects has turned the center city area into a hub for business and commerce. Developers have focused on reconnecting the surrounding suburban population to the center center, which was previously disconnected due to perceptions of crime …