• Space Settlements
    Fred Scharmen
    Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2019
    Fred Scharmen

Rick Guidice, Stanford Torus Cutaway, 1975. NASA Ames Research Center.

In the summer of 1975, in Silicon Valley, NASA brought together a team of physicists, engineers, and space scientists—along with architects, urban planners, and artists—to design large scale space habitats for millions of people. This Summer Study was led by Princeton physicist Gerard O'Neill, whose work on this topic had previously been funded by countercultural icon Stewart Brand's Point Foundation. Two painters, artist and architect Rick Guidice, and planetary science illustrator Don Davis, created renderings for the project that would be, over the next years and decades, widely circulated in the public domain, partially published in several books, and shown as part of testimony before a Congressional subcommittee. Space Settlements examines these projects as serious architectural and spatial proposals. A product of its time, this work is also relevant in several ways to contemporary modes of thinking about architecture.

Fred Scharmen teaches architecture and urban design at Morgan State University's School of Architecture and Planning. Scharmen has previously taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and Catholic University. His work as a designer and researcher is about how architects imagine new spaces for new speculative future worlds, and about who is invited into those worlds. His most recently completed projects, with the Working Group on Adaptive Systems, include a mile-and-a-half long scale model of the solar system in downtown Baltimore (in collaboration with nine artists who made the planets), and a pillow fort for the Baltimore Museum of Art, based on Gottfried Semper's Four Elements of Architecture. His writing has been published in the Journal of Architectural Education, Log, CLOG, Volume, and Domus. His architectural criticism has appeared in the Architect’s Newspaper, and in the local alt-weekly Baltimore City Paper.