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The Woman Behind One World Trade; Why We Watch HGTV

Welcome to Curbed's new weekly roundup of architecture, real estate, and urban planning-related feature stories from, well, anywhere that isn't Curbed. We'll be collecting a few of our favorite longer stories of the week; please be in touch if you have a story to recommend.

1. For the second installment in a series on One World Trade Center, writer Karrie Jacobs profiles Nicole Dosso, a technical director at Skidmore Owings & Merrill who has been overseeing the construction of the tower.

While Dosso doesn't claim ownership of the project as a whole--the way a design architect, the person generally credited for how a building looks, might–-she enjoys talking about the craftwork that went into it, about going to the quarry in Carrara, Italy, to get the lobby's Larissa marble cut to specification or running steel components through thefabrication equipment repeatedly to get just the right finish. This attention to detail is what makes her a great technical director, but technical directors don't win Pritzkers or Gold Medals. Architectural prizes are predicated on the romantic notion that buildings are works of art by lone visionaries. Anyone who knows the first thing about architecture understands that today's buildings are always collaborative efforts. 2. Why do so many people watch so much HGTV? Pacific Standard suggests one reason: HGTV shows are essentially police procedurals.

This kind of attention mirrors the other primary way we watch HGTV, which is, of course, through attention to the houses themselves. Character, in the sense of a complex psychology, is replaced by character in the sense of a fireplace with original brick. HGTV is producing a generation of upscale viewers who now watch television with a film theorist's eye for mise en scene. (Wes Anderson should make a deal to produce the network's first original feature film.) We even begin to fetishize particular styles and details as they appear and re-appear across programs. White cabinets, dark hardwoods, Edison light bulbs, apron sinks, stainless steel, and granite all mean quality, luxury, comfort. Open concept living spaces mean the possibility and promise of friendship and sociality. And nobody really wants wallpaper. 3. Builders have been wary of wood because of its "historic reputation as kindling for a great city fire." But as architects and engineers seek construction options that won't have a horrible effect on the environment, more are turning to wood, The Guardian explains:

The rigidity of mass timber panels has tended to restrict architects to a "house of cards" design, whereby panels are slotted together and stacked on top of one another in repetitive patterns. But new innovations are coming thick and fast: theUSDA recently announced a $2m investment for wood innovation, and in the previously scorched city of Chicago, mega-firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrillpublished a study that re-imagines the 42-storey Dewitt Chestnut apartment block as a timber tower. In Europe, a 14-storey wooden building is currently under construction in Bergen, Norway, with another eight-storey structure on its way up in Dornbirn, Austria – the prototype for a 20-storey plyscraper designed by the global engineering firm Arup. 4. The idea of the garden city, in which homes surrounded green space and amenities were within a walkable distance, first arose in the 19th century, and inspired the similar garden suburbs. Now, Foreign Policy argues, garden cities are coming back as architects and urban planners look for ways to solve urban problems.

Enter the garden city. Drawing on the political thought of American economist Henry George, who believed the value of land should be common property, Howard described a planned community outside a major city that would combine the social and financial opportunities of the city with the "natural healthfulness" of the countryside. In a handful of simple, concentric-circle diagrams, Howard drew a city that would be home to 32,000 people who would enjoy fresh air, green space, and places to shop and relax. The city would be largely self-contained, with homes, schools, and factories encircled by an agricultural estate. · Recommended Reading archive [Curbed]