48: America S/S 2021


“A terrible mechanism [is] on the march, its gears multiplying.” So begins the 48th issue of Harvard Design Magazine, guest edited by Mark Lee, chair of the department of architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Florencia Rodriguez, editorial director of –Ness Magazine. The issue takes as its theme the slippery and ambiguous figure of “America,” seen through the lens of the built and unbuilt environment. Americanization—once the “terrible mechanism” bent on pressing capitalist values on emerging economies everywhere—is now in retreat, eclipsed by the more urgent domestic concerns of pandemic and climate change, racial injustice and domestic radicalization. The very notion of what constitutes America is ripe for redefinition.

The America Issue of Harvard Design Magazine, featuring a new design and art direction by Alexis Mark, invites historians, architects, landscape architects, urban designers, theorists, curators, artists, and planners to reflect on the country’s past and present, and to imagine sustainable futures. Projects, taxonomies, dialogues, essays, and spatial interpretations explore possible Americas. They allow us to delve into issues relevant to small cities, towns, and rural areas—as well as major urban centers—and to study barriers and opportunities facing communities across the country.

Table of Contents

Editors' Letter

The America Issue

Mark Lee & Florencia Rodriguez


America for the Americans!

Jorge Francisco Liernur

America: a reflection

Jeffrey Kipnis

American Architecture

Kersten Geers & David Van Severen

Paul Revere Williams: Another Take

Victor J. Jones with Photographs by Janna Ireland


American Time: The Vertiginous Descent from Machu Picchu to Seaside

Sylvia Lavin

Bye-Bye Babylon

Charlotte von Moos

Considering Americanization, 1880–1960

Lisa Ubelaker Andrade

In Conjunction?

Sean Canty

Lack of Consensus: A Historian’s Take on the Territory

Edward Eigen

Looking Together

Michael Meredith

Making Do at the GSD (with Dave Hickey, Charles Jencks, and a few others)

K. Michael Hays

Sinmi Stool: Design with a Black Intent?

Zoë Ryan

The New MoMA

Pezo von Ellrichshausen


A Civil Society

Maurice Cox & Rahul Mehrotra

American Cool and the Dirty South

Dave Hickey, Jennifer Bonner, Max Kuo & Mack Scogin

At Home in America

Michèle Lamy & Mark Lee

Banham in America: A Transatlantic Dialogue

Ludovico Centis & Todd Gannon

Let’s Try to Be Relevant

Sarah Whiting & Florencia Rodriguez

Making Gardens, Making Books

Henry N. Cobb & Michael Van Valkenburgh with Matthew Girard & Alexander Luckmann

Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste

Shaun Donovan & Jerold Kayden

The American Object

Jonathan Olivares & Robert Stadler

The Chicago Model

Rahm Emanuel & Sharon Johnston

Photo Essay

Hobbling Away

Photographs by Marianne Mueller with an Introduction by Charles Shafaieh

Leaves of Grass

Adam Monohon


“Chicago was Nowhere”

Paul Andersen & Sam Jacob

“Politics as Geography”

Neeraj Bhatia & Brendan Cormier

“Race & Space”

Michelle Joan Wilkinson & Adrienne Brown

Notes on Jeffrey Kipnis’s America: a reflection

Michael Osman

Remembering Henry N. Cobb (1926–2020)

Michael Van Valkenburgh


Editorial Director

Julie Cirelli

Production Manager

Meghan Ryan Sandberg

Guest Editors
Florencia Rodriguez
Mark Lee

Graphic Design & Art Direction

Alexis Mark


Rachel Holzman


Emma Bird, Cynthia Deng, Arta Perezic


Flagship Press, North Andover, Massachusetts, USA