By Nicole Chavez
Development Assistant, College of Architecture
(Oct. 17, 2012) -- The UTSA College of Architecture Fall Lecture Series will present "Petrochemical America" at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17 in the Buena Vista Street Building Assembly Room (1.338) on the UTSA Downtown Campus. The lecture is based on a book of the same name and will be presented by author Kate Orff, assistant professor at Columbia University, and the founding principal of SCAPE, a landscape architecture and urban design studio based in Manhattan.
This semester, the College of Architecture lecture series focuses on research as it relates to the built environment, looking at the impact of both natural and man-made components on our surroundings. The series is free and open to the public.
"Petrochemical America"is a richly illustrated collaboration between Orff and photographer Richard Misrach that explores how oil and petrochemicals have transformed the physical form and social dynamics of the American landscape. The book focuses on the industrialized landscape of the Mississippi River Corridor that stretches from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, an area of intense chemical production that was dubbed "Cancer Alley" when unusually high reports of cancer and other diseases were discovered in the region.
Misrach's haunting photographs are combined with Orff's "Ecological Atlas," a series of visual narratives or "throughlines" that were developed through intensive research and mapping of data from the region. The result is a revealing study of the ways in which the petrochemical industry, now firmly entrenched in American culture, has permanently shaped our landscape.
"Today, we are starting to understand the consequences, at a local, regional, and global scale, of the age of the present regime of oil and petrochemicals," said Orff in her essay, "Petrochemical America: Toward a New Energy Landscape," published by the Huffington Post. "What remains to be collectively imagined is what a shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy forms would mean in the future in terms of generating a new American landscape aesthetic of promise and productivity," she said.
Orff is part of Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she leads studios and seminars that integrate the earth sciences into the design curriculum. She also is a director of Columbia's Urban Landscape Lab, an inter-disciplinary applied research group dedicated to affecting positive social and ecological change in the joint built-natural environment. Orff belongs to a generation of landscape architects that value research highly, viewing it as an intrinsic component of all architectural design processes. Themes of sustainable development, biodiversity and community-based change permeate her work, and she is often recognized for her innovative and practical solutions.
In 2010, Orff participated in "Rising Currents: Projects for New York's Waterfront, an installation displayed by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. MoMA and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center put together the architects-in-residence program to address one of the most urgent challenges facing the nation's largest city: sea-level rising resulting from global climate change. Five teams were asked to re-envision the coastlines around New York Harbor and to imagine new ways to occupy the harbor itself with adaptive "soft" infrastructures that are sympathetic to the needs of a sound ecology.
Orff led a team from SCAPE in creating "Oyster-Tecture," a simple, yet visionary idea to seed oysters in the notoriously dirty Gowanus Canal. Because a single oyster is capable of filtering up to 50 gallons of water a day, Orff's idea was to construct a "living reef" out of fuzzy rope that would support oyster and mussel growth, potentially cleaning millions of gallons of harbor water. A small pilot project utilizing Orff's idea is currently in the works.
Among other speaking engagements promoting the launch of "Petrochemical America," Orff and Misrach presented a joint lecture and book signing at the Museum of Modern Art last month. Orff also is co-editor of "Gateway: Visions for an Urban National Park," and her essays have appeared in The Great Leap Forward, Rising Currents, Waterfront Visions, Volume and other publications. She has won local and national design awards and was named an ELLE magazine "Planet Fixer," a Dwell magazine Design Leader, and one of H&G's 50 For the Future of Design. Her work has received two National ASLA awards and has appeared in the Museum of Modern Art, the HK/Shenzhen Biennale and other international exhibits.
For more information email Nicole Chavez.
UTSA College of Architecture Fall Lecture Series
Nov. 7 -- Eran Ben-Joseph speaking on "ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking," is co-sponsored by the UTSA Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute.
UTSA students and the San Antonio community are invited to this event where people shave their head and raise money to fight childhood cancer.
Student Union Lawn, Main Campus
The former curator of literary collections for The Huntington Library will share Secrets from the Stacks: Untold Stories of Collecting the Papers of Contemporary Authors. Lecture is free and open to the public.
John Peace Library (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
Come learn about Korea and its culture through food tasting, music, dance and percussion performance, games, arts, crafts, presentations and more.
Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus
Teams of four hit the links for a day of golf that supports UTSA scholarships.
Hyatt Hill Country Golf Club, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr, San Antonio
President Taylor Eighmy invites all UTSA students to "Pizza With The Prez." Come grab a slice of pizza and take the opportunity to introduce yourself to the President.
Student Union Ski Lodge Patio, Main Campus
The UTSA Housekeeping Staff’s Erlinda’s Wish Program members created a collection of cookbooks that are being added to the UTSA Libraries Special Collections Mexican Cookbook Collection. Meet the contributors to the collection and sample recipes.
John Peace Library Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
As part of San Antonio's tricentennial, UTSA will celebrate San Antonio's Founder's day with Historic Futures - A Taste of Folklife. The free event will showcase the diverse and rich heritage of San Antonio through a variety of music, dance and international cuisine.
Student Union Paseo, Main Campus
Help raise money for UTSA staff scholarships. Individuals and teams - sign up now for this fun bowling activity. Family and friends are welcome.
University Bowl, 12332 W. IH-10, San Antonio
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