Illustration: Lauren Nassef | Art Direction: Jelena Schulz

On the Right Track

The materials track of sessions at the 2015 AIA National Convention in Atlanta (May 14-16) includes more than five dozen for-credit courses. Joined by design and health, energy, resilience, and small firm practice tracks, the message is clear: It’s about healthier, responsive environments and intelligent design choices. Learn more at, and browse the special focus tracks at in advance of May’s convention and expo.

Street Sense

“Street architecture” is intended to engage people—for a month or a week or even a day—and make them think a little differently about their cities. “The Invisible City” (with a nice shoutout to Italo Calvino), a series of temporary spaces for New York sponsored by the Storefront for Art and Architecture, will be unveiled May 28–30. Teams will be asked to address certain dichotomies of modern life—transparency and surveillance, expression and suppression—and other more nuanced relationships, such as participation and dissent, or citizenship and representation. Heady stuff, but it will certainly draw attention to participating architects and designers. Learn more at

Hawk and Trowel

Plaster has long been an architectural material, skillfully applied to grand ceilings for decorative relief and, in an everyday way, to the humblest of house walls for protection. It all starts from powder and water to form a paste—maybe with a little horsehair thrown in—but where a plasterer goes from there is anyone’s guess. The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art in New York will hold “The Art of Building: Traditional Plastering” on April 18, a one-day course that will explore everything from moulding theory to the chemistry of plaster. Learn more at

Material Culture

The AIA’s 2014 Sustainable Leadership Opportunity Scan represents a series of action plans in the areas of energy, health, materials, and resilience. The first steps of each interrelated plan are underway, but it all comes down to the everyday choices that architects (and their clients) make in terms of why to specify one material over another, what strategies to employ to make a space healthier, and what the impact of those spaces will be in five, 10, or 20 years. Learn more about why materials matter at and about which sustainability resources are right for you at

Zeros and Ones

“If today we program computers and machines, tomorrow we will program matter itself.” Or so states the brief for the MIT School of Architecture + Planning’s Active Matter Summit (April 24) in Cambridge, Mass. Why should this matter (pun intended) to architects? Nanotechnology, so-called soft robotics, synthetic biology, and 3D printing are changing the ways that design is approached and fabricated for ever-more-adaptive materials that will change the way we live. Learn more and register at