“This is a beautiful ode to the importance and beauty of fire escapes by Mr. Lagomarsino. You can see from this book the years of work that he put in to produce this amazing piece.”
“Like most people I have taken the fire escape for granted and walk right by it. Thanks to this book, I have a new appreciation for the fire escape.”
“As an architect, myself, this book has given me a renewed appreciation for fire escapes.”
While having traveled to many American and European cities capturing urban forms on film, it’s curious that there are seldom few fire escapes in Europe, or perhaps my view of them was diminished by the more seemingly forced tourist view and where I went.
The Great Triangle Shirtwaist Fire became a motivator if not a rally cry for laborers and union leaders to organize against unsafe practices in business manufacturing. Factory owners would regularly lock exit doors to prevent employee theft, and there was typically only one exit regardless of the size of manufacturing floors. In fact, New York City founded a committee on public safety and a factory commission which investigated existing conditions and help re-mediate them. These actions helped New York State become “one of the most progressive states in terms of labor reform.”
This poetry of light happens when the ivy is seen crawling up the wall behind the stairs. It’s as if both man and nature are able to climb, and to me that was visual poetry, the kind that no words could reproduce.
Is the story of professional displacement during the Great Recession, an Architect as Cab driver, while seeking Architecture work. It interviews Paolo Soleri the visionary urban designer, the traffic engineer, Louis Lagomarsino, for Phoenix’s highway designs, and the cab passengers’ short stories of marginalization for their lack of a car. It’s a journey through an Architect’s life, beginning with schooling, travels, design, internship, and practices in the private to public projects for the USPS, USAF, USACOE, NAVFAC and manufacturing semiconductor facilities. It takes us through different urban configurations. But most of all it takes us through history’s cycles of political change, the semantics of their origins, the delivery of designs, and the affects of expansion and colonialist attitude’s in America. It’s a critique of Urban Sprawl, and the irrationality of relying on housing starts to determine a healthy economy. It examines Keynesian versus Classical economics, comparing them with the events of the last “American” century. He illuminates the American Dream’s unsustainable promise to even its poorest citizens, considering whether we can still re-materialize that dream out of its current mythological existence. Is this dream for everyone? Can we grow a culture based on the automobile and a limited fossil fuel economy? It challenges this dream’s configuration, while placing a heavy burden of responsibility for our economic demise on its mythical component, the greed that drove it, and the Sprawl that has burdened it.