Mandy Palasik, Contributing Author
The Chaos of Neglect:On Rioting + Architecture in Baltimore
LOBBY No #3, Defiance, 2014
Editors:Regner Ramos, Mrinal S. Rammohan, James Taylor-Foster, Stylianos Giamarelos, Laura Narvaez, Nahed Jawad, Marcela Aragüez art direction Laura Silke, Moa Pårup
From the Editors... LOBBY No. 3 seeks to highlight the collapse of normative ideals, discourses, frameworks and aesthetics, by exploring ‘Defiance’ through the eyes of those who sit on either side of the norm’s boundaries, as well as those who walk in-between them. From the mythical battle of David with Goliath to Pink Floyd’s infamous concert in Venice, Defiance sets out to explore the constantly shifting waters of defiance.
© Anna Anderson/Regner Ramos
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The act of rioting can perhaps be classified as the epitome of defiance. However, as evident in the 1968 and 2015 riots in Baltimore, rioting does not imply a resolution to an underlying cycle of calamity. Media portrayal of the riots concluded social issues as the culprit for such violent outcries, failing to acknowledge the decades of lingering neglect and disinvestment that plaque these segregated post-industrial communities. In the case of Baltimore, onlookers were perplexed by the degree of fury that erupted, resulting in destruction of the city’s built environment. As the first imposition of order on a society, it should come as no surprise that the physical constraints imposed by Architects become targets of strife. As Architects, we have a responsibility to craft these environments as a spatial response that addresses these underlying social issues. In essence, this essay is a call to arms for architects to be defiant against our own laissez-faire approach to pursing solutions that address greater social issues through our design response, to resist authorities that stifle our creativity. It is a claim that we, as architects, have been negligent, and through our silence are as guilty for such violent eruptions as those that occurred in Baltimore. In essence, our profession has failed the city. Sustained use of standard typologies and acceptance of status-quo, such as Baltimore’s historic rowhome typology, have only contributed to Baltimore’s regression. Until our profession becomes defiant against our own battles with innovation, we are powerless in breaking the cycle of a self-induced chaos.