1. About Aalto

The exhibition “Alvar Aalto in Rovaniemi” (Nov. 1–Feb. 2), at the Alvar Aalto Museo in Jyväskylä, Finland, commemorates the architect’s post–World War II reconstruction plan for the Lapland capital, for which he also designed a town hall, the Rovaniemi City Library, and model houses for the Korkalorinne neighborhood. Aalto, who received the AIA Gold Medal in 1963 and worked across nearly every building typology, once claimed, “Nothing is as dangerous in architecture as dealing with separate problems.” Rovaniemi, apart from the rest of his oeuvre, stands as a unique (if only partially completed) example of how one can resolve a series of urban problems with a single unifying gesture: the so-called “reindeer antler plan.”

See for yourself and learn more at alvaraalto.fi.

2. Snack Time

Studies have shown that the average American gains between 1 and 7 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. So, embrace the bell curve and taste the difference that design/build makes at AIA Houston and Architecture Center Houston’s fifth annual Gingerbread Build-Off. More than 20 teams will descend on Hermann Square at City Hall to compete for Grand Prix de Show, Best Architectural Icon, and other categories. Winning structures will be exhibited at the architecture center Dec. 16–20—if they’re not eaten first.

Learn more at aiahouston.org.

3. Used and Reused

In “The Big Idea” (architect, June 2013), we covered the Fentress Global Challenge, an annual ideas competition run by Denver-based Fentress Architects, which has asked students to consider the workplace of the future (2011) and the airport of the future (2012). This year’s topic, “Upcycled Architecture,” centers on adaptive reuse as a more measured approach to urban redevelopment. Registration closes Dec. 19.

Learn more at fentressarchitects.com.

4. A Classic of the Genre

Country houses (and their landscapes) have always been design laboratories for architects who could, with budgets both healthy and modest, probe historical precedents and vernacular traditions. For five weeks this fall, the Institute for Classical Architecture & Art in New York City will offer a course covering some of the best examples of “The Architecture of the American Country House.” The course will emphasize the continuum of architectural style—from early-19th century pattern books to the ways in which technology and building codes have been incorporated in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Learn more at classicist.org.

5. Queensway Concepts

When the first phase of James Corner Field Operations’ and Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s High Line in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood opened in 2009, the project set a new standard for how design and civic engagement can repurpose urban infrastructure. It’s a good thing the bar is so high—there are hundreds of miles of abandoned rail lines in U.S. cities, including one 11 miles to the east of Chelsea, between Ozone Park and Rego Park, Queens. AIA New York and its Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) are calling for proposals to remake the abandoned 3.5-mile Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Beach Branch into a greenway—aptly called the Queensway. Entries are due Jan. 6.

Learn more at aiany.org.