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To be alive is to encounter architecture. From the most solitary hermit to the most gregarious urbanite, survival itself fundamentally involves negotiating constructed spaces—huts, houses, high-rises. Architecture often plays a defining existential role in our earliest perceptions. To have roofs over our heads is desirable to most all of us, no matter whether they are made of quarried slate or rummaged cardboard, of woven wheat-straw thatch or forged corrugated steel. Childhood bedrooms, whether our own or shared with siblings or even with one’s parents and grandparents, stay imprinted in our memories long after we’ve ventured out into other rooms. The architecture of the neighborhoods in which we grow up, be they urban, rural, or suburban, also shape who we become. Every building has its own narrative that begins with an architectural idea—an office where we work, a church in which to pray, a prison to avoid, a hospital for healing. And beyond functionality, architecture strives as often as not to be aesthetically pleasing. To challenge expectations, to honor tradition, to be new.
In this issue readers will come upon walls, and the people they protect or separate. They will discover pyramids and caves, castles and bars, seaside hotels and roadside motels, a tiny haunted house and a mansion on a Miyazaki-esque island floating in the sky. A mother and son visit a fractal museum in Maine, only to have their lives irrevocably altered. On a boarding-school farm in West Virginia, a troubled boy has his first unexpected sexual encounter in an isolated room. A band of weekend urban archaeologists who salvage artifacts from buildings about to be demolished make a grim discovery but, because they’re trespassing, face the dilemma of whether to report their find. A girl obsessed with bridges eventually creates single-strand spans that defy the laws of physics.
Throughout, we see the many ways in which the very materials we fashion into architectural structures reflect our deepest selves and are vivid physical extensions of our imaginations. To borrow a phrase from poet Elaine Equi, “We mark our place and it marks us.”
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The Limestone Book
The Kite Room
Father and Son
Architecture for Monsters
Blue: a chair is a very difficult object
The Weekend Salvage Unit
No Mothers, Only Ghosts
Song of the Andoumboulou: 181
A Brief History of the Colonial Map of India—or, the Map as Architecture of Mind
A Tiny Haunting
Cleeve Abbey Suite
My Wilmerding: Wheelhouse or Runaway
How It's Gone and Done
Here and There
The Café, the Sea, Deauville, 1966