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Catalyst: Lineages and Trajectories edited by Ghazal Abbasy-Asbagh | Actar | 2015 | Amazon
This book in two parts documents the faculty and student output of the architecture and landscape architecture departments at the University of Virginia School of Architecture. There is a concerted attempt to make it something special: each of the two books is small; they fit together into a slipcase; and they are accompanied by a foldout with two “maps.” The Lineages book serves as an archival project “that traces the lineage of the school’s faculty,” so logically it is structured as a collection of interviews. The Typologies book, on the other hand, presents studio projects from the 2013-2014 school year.

Geographies of Trash by Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy | Actar | 2015 | Amazon
Nobody wants to think about garbage. At least that is the assumption. But treating garbage as an “out of sight, out of mind” problem is not healthy – neither for people nor the planet. Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy’s Geographies of Trash is a book-length argument for architects “to take on problems that had once been the domains of engineering or regional planning.” The “Represent” section lays out their argument through essays and illustrations, the latter focused on trash in the state of Michigan, while the “Project” section presents five design scenarios for dealing with garbage as a building material or morphological element of urban form. Lastly, “Assemble” documents through photos the duo’s installation that created a spatial object from their five projects. Kudos to the graphic designers at Thumb, who took the great visuals and turned it into a beautiful book.

Platform 8: An Index of Design and Research by Zaneta Hong | Actar | 2016 | Amazon
Not to be confused with GSD 08 Platform, which came out in 2008 and should have been Platform 1 since it started the school’s ongoing Platform publications, the latest annual collection of design and research projects uses the encyclopedia as its format. The various classes, lectures, projects, publications, and other output are discovered in the A-to-Z (Academia-to-Zoo) listing of terms. A gimmick to be sure, but one that is surprisingly effective if a bit dry, with only a few splashes of color with photos of faculty, students and some student projects. What could have been an arbitrary and confusing way of structuring things is aided by cross-referencing and an index for those looking for particular students, faculty and guest lecturers. Not all terms are related to the GSD’s output, so these would appear to indicate what are important (ha-ha and high-rise, apparently) to the students and professors at the school.

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