Athenaeums are social libraries, cornerstones of a community where you don't just borrow books — you can visit cherished antiquities, hold talks, attend parties and even bring your dog. In Providence, R.I., the "Ath" is a 19th-century library with the soul of a 21st-century rave party.
The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial isn't the only monument in Washington, D.C., that's grappled with how to make a correction. At the nearby Vietnam Veterans Memorial, more than 100 names have been misspelled. So far, 62 have been re-engraved.
The way Americans learn about African American history is largely shaped by architect Philip Freelon. He's designed most of the country's major African American history and culture museums — from the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, NC, to the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. And Wednesday there was a groundbreaking ceremony on the National Mall for his highest profile project to date — the new Smithsonian devoted to African American history and culture. Freelon stopped by after the ceremony to talk with Melissa Block about the museum and his design philosophy.
In his book Concrete Planet, author Robert Courland discusses why the concrete first used by the Romans is more durable than the concrete used in most present day buildings. Plus, mineralogist Peter Stemmerman tells us about his invention, Celitement and why it is greener than Portland cement.
All wars bring innovation — primarily in weapons and medicine. But today's conflicts are also bringing advances in house design, to accommodate wounded veterans. On an Army post in Virginia, two new houses are being hailed as breakthroughs.
Historic buildings in Beijing are being demolished in the pursuit of quick profit. Even the home of the architect who urged Mao Zedong to preserve Beijing's old city has fallen to the wreckers' ball, sparking considerable outrage. And the epidemic of destruction is spreading to new buildings, too.
Miles Davis was honored with a postage stamp, but his childhood home has fallen into disrepair. Only a few homes of the talented and famous become tourist meccas like Graceland or Monticello. Architecture, beauty and politics all play a role.
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