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Local Architecture
Book by Brian MacKay-Lyons
Princeton Architectural Press (hardcover, 224 pages)

As a young architect in the mid-’90s, Brian MacKay-Lyons grew disillusioned with his field. In response, he founded a group now called Ghost at his farm in Nova Scotia, to conduct symposia where architects and historians could gather to discuss the craft, reflect upon its current culture, and share visions for the future. This compendium chronicles the ideas shared at Ghost 13, with essays from 10 architectural thinkers – including Kenneth Frampton, Juhani Pallasmaa and Glenn Murcutt – who are forging ahead in the field of place-­specific architecture. MacKay-Lyons asserts that the academic side of architecture has become too esoteric and the practice side anti-intellectual; as a remedy, these inspired discussions and buildings focus on the value of craft, what it truly means to build local and, simply put, caring about the footprint we leave behind. With a wealth of visuals from 17 place-based firms, this treatise is sure to incite architects, designers and academics to reach higher. By Catherine Sweeney

New Energies
Book edited by Robert Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian
Prestel (hardcover, 240 pages)

As Denmark pursues the ambitious goal of meeting half of its electrical needs thorough wind power by 2020, and visible signs of the grid creep farther into residential areas, the country is contending with a need to present this infrastructure to the public in a way that they can live with. It’s just the kind of problem that the Land Art Generator Initiative’s biannual design competition was established to address. In 2014, LAGI challenged studios around the world to produce public art concepts for a disused shipyard in Copenhagen, just across the harbour from the city’s famous mermaid statue. The pieces would provoke people to contemplate their relationship with energy, as well as generate power that could be fed into the grid. New Energies compiles 64 competition entries, including the winning design: double-curved planes that form an island and a canopy concealing a solar array above and a generator below. From a giant ducky covered in solar panels to waving fields of sail-like turbines and piezoelectric generators, these poetic concepts show that an electricity-generating space can be inviting, and a wind-powered future can be beautiful. By David Dick‑Agnew

Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots
Book by Louise Sandhaus
Metropolis (hardcover, 416 pages)

This colourful collection of Californian graphic art is as dramatic, mellow and full of twists as a scenic drive down the Pacific coast. As the title suggests, the state’s graphic design is affected by its nervous history with its lively environment, which provides fertile soil for creativity and offbeat ideas. Four chapters explore the prevailing moods during the years 1936 to 1986: the local take on Modernism, with its clean typography and use of grids and geometry; the influence of Hollywood and avant-garde motion design, including movie titles and early video games; the loose, vibrant and sometimes illustrative compositions of the psychedelic movement; and the prominent role of women in the scene. While this thematic presentation supplies excellent historical context, the real highlight is the many vignettes that show how creatives such as Saul Bass, Robert Crumb and Ray Kaiser Eames incorporated West Coast experiences into their work in unique ways that still capture a California feel. By Henry Tyminski

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