• Repair Manual
    Nancy Levinson and Frances Richard
    Places Journal, 2022
    Places Journal

Clockwise from top left: Nina Katchadourian, “Mended Spiderweb #19 (Laundry Line),” 1998, from the series “Mended Spiderwebs.” Courtesy Nina Katchadourian and Catharine Clark Gallery; “Brooklyn Bridge Painters, New York City,” 1915. Via Wikimedia Commons, public domain. Photo: Unknown photographer; Virginia Hanusik, “Yscloskey Highway, Saint Bernard, Louisiana,” 2016. Courtesy Virginia Hanusik; Bart Lumber, “Drought,” 2006. Via Flickr, public domain

Repair Manual is a new series that explores the sociotechnical transformation poised to reshape design—the paradigm shift from building the world to repairing the world. Scholars and activists are increasingly focused on obsolescence, wreckage, and waste—hypercapitalism’s unsustainable impacts on our climate and economy. As Steven J. Jackson argues in “Rethinking Repair,” shibboleths of “novelty and invention, open frontiers and endless development” are yielding to realities of “fragmentation, dissolution, and breakdown.” Two Places essays build upon Jackson’s analysis. In “Maintenance and Care,” Shannon Mattern assesses failing infrastructures and concludes: “breakdown is our epistemic and experiential reality.” In “All Is Lost,” Kiel Moe and Daniel S. Friedman make a case for “broken world design.” Repair Manual extends this inquiry in the journal’s pages to address the central challenge of “broken world design”: How might professions premised on growth and consumption meet the exigencies of a world needing repair?

Nancy Levinson is editor and executive director of Places Journal. Since arriving at the journal in 2009, she has led its transition from print to digital, advanced the editorial mission of public scholarship, and, in collaboration with Princeton University Press, overseen the launch of Places Books. Previously Levinson was founding director of the Phoenix Urban Research Lab at the Design School at Arizona State University, and before that founding coeditor of Harvard Design Magazine at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She received an MArch from University of Pennsylvania.

Frances Richard is senior editor of Places Journal. She has taught at California College of the Arts and been an editor at Fence and Cabinet. Her writing on visual art and poetry has appeared in Artforum, BOMB, and the Nation. She has been a visiting scholar at the Canadian Centre for Architecture and recipient of a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. Richard holds a master’s in creative writing from New York University. Her latest book, Gordon Matta-Clark: Physical Poetics (University of California Press, 2019), was supported by a grant from the Graham Foundation.

Founded in 1983, Places Journal harnesses the power of public scholarship to promote equitable cities, innovative architecture, and resilient landscapes.