Build Your Own Myth!
Yale School of Architecture
Spring 2020 Ghost Towns
Critic Elihu Rubin
Team Deo Deiparine, Leanne Nagata, Rebecca Potts, Max Wirsing
Published Retrospecta 43
The seminar investigated architectural history, urban planning, vernacular building, the politics of preservation, collective memory, tourism, and, ultimately, urban sustainability. Looking at a broad spectrum of failed or almost-failed cities in the United States and across the globe, this seminar uses the ghost town and its rhythms of development and disinvestment to establish a conceptual framework for contemporary urban patterns and processes. The seminar culminated in an interactive coloring book that studied the New Haven Clock Factory and its afterlives.
Within the pages of this interactive coloring book, you are invited to consider and engage with the histories and heritage of the buildings that once housed the New Haven Clock Company. In 2016, Portland based developers began eyeing this industrial complex for conversion into artist lofts. To secure the private and public funds needed for such extensive construction, the developers harnessed the materials and histories of the site’s former occupants to narrate the building as unique and storied ruin in need of rescuing. The games and images in this book work to present the lives and stories of the space while simultaneously calling attention to the way that heritage preservation often crafts a sanitized and selective view of the past to help maximize profit in the present. Acknowledging the difficulty of presenting this building without succumbing to the pull of aestheticized nostalgia, the coloring book leans into this discomfort through the idiom of satire. We hope that the childlike glee with which the building’s uncomfortable pasts are here positioned bring with them an awareness of the oft-obscured violence and injustices lurking behind well-branded development projects. This coloring book invites you to the intersection of delight and disgust.