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Las Vegas

Speaking Engagement

Las Vegas is a city on par with Masdar, United Arab Emirates; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Phoenix; and Los Angeles in that it improbably thrives in the desert. It’s a place of contradictions as well as innovative design practices. This year, AIA Las Vegas instituted Architects Speak as a forum for local architects to share how they thrive in the desert. The monthly lunch-and-learn series also has a special focus on bringing emerging professionals together.

Learn more at aialasvegas.org.

Biskra, Algeria

Ripple Effect

As energy crises go, so goes the global economy. But ingenuity is a renewable resource that can help ameliorate the crunch. On Dec. 4–5, the Biskra Architecture and Sustainability International Conference in Algeria will draw together architects, planners, and ecologists in service of that end. Conference organizers hope to frame a longer view of energy from the 1970s to today by looking at the evolution of sustainability requirements, energy modeling, and ways of thinking about urban and architectural heritage.

Learn more at univ-biskra.dz/basc2011.

St. Louis

Death and Life

Modern architecture suffered a blow in 1972 when the first of Pruit-Igoe’s 33 buildings fell to the wrecking ball. The demolition of the St. Louis housing project, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, FAIA, underscored a lingering question: How badly had urban renewal failed America? Pruit Igoe Now, a St. Louis–based nonprofit, hopes to answer it for the 21st-century global city by returning to the brownfield site with a competition for what organizers call a “frontier” between North St. Louis and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

Philadelphia

Messy Vitality

2011 marks 45 years since Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture shifted the foundations of architectural theory. The book’s virulence toward modern architecture ultimately eclipsed the author’s modest claims for a “gentle manifesto.” But for many architects, it offered an excuse to be critical of Modernism and a way to think outside of it. The Philadelphia architect’s legacy is not unlike his argument in the book: to demonstrate that architectural design is really a conversation about incongruent ideas (“both/and”) that belie stylistic rules to form a holistic idea.

Portsmouth, N.H.

Live Sustainablyor Die

Sustainability is an austerity measure and a framework for communities to thrive for Plan NH, the Portsmouth, N.H.–based nonprofit advocate of smart growth. Plan NH launches the Vibrant Villages New Hampshire campaign this month, funded in part by the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, “for ordinary citizens to balance necessary growth with the state’s rural character” says Robin LeBlanc, executive director of Plan NH. “We’re going beyond ‘land use’ and ‘sprawl’ to reframe new ways of thinking about growth.”

Learn more at plannh.com