The Architecture of Food Systems

Spotlighting the Hudson Valley Design Lab and Good Shepherd Institute in a conversation with Caitlin Taylor of MASS Design Group.

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Plans for the Good Shepherd Institute in Lindsborg, Kansas. Rendering by MASS Design Group.
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The city center of Poughkeepsie, from Google Earth

Urban Communities, Food Access, and the Hudson Valley Design Lab

Poughkeepsie, a city of 30,000 people on the Hudson River 80 miles north of New York City, is a striking case study of the influence of transportation planning on local economies. In the late 1950s, as car-centric culture was sweeping the nation, the city poured urban renewal funds into reshaping its layout to protect its thriving downtown center from suburban traffic. To maintain the central Main Mall as a pedestrian-only zone, urban planners designed it as a car-free area with parking lots on the periphery and large arterial roads cutting through the city on either side — demolishing many of the city’s buildings in the process. This design isolated the city center, affirmed vehicle access as the primary force shaping the city’s landscape, and perpetuated racial and economic inequalities.

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The Main Mall (left), and the parking lots and arterial roads that surround it (right). This Architect Magazine article about Poughkeepsie and the Hudson Valley Design Lab further details the path that led to the city’s current layout. Photos by Alexius Horatius on Wikimedia Commons, and Google Earth.
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The HVDL storefront in downtown Poughkeepsie. Photo by MASS Design Group.
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Farmland in Dutchess County, near Poughkeepsie. Photo by Daniel Case on Wikimedia Commons.
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The Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch and surrounding fields in Lindsborg, Kansas, from Google Earth.

Rural Communities, Food Production, and The Good Shepherd Institute

Architecture is in practice a largely urban-centric profession. Rural communities would benefit from more attention from professional designers than they regularly receive. Understanding the needs of rural communities, which are usually very specific to their local landscapes and economies, takes time and care — and there are few economic incentives to do so within mainstream profit-oriented systems. Yet “honoring rural communities is a vital issue of economic, social, and environmental justice,” Caitlin emphasizes.

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99% of turkeys raised in the USA live in overcrowded factory farms (left). The Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch works with heritage breeds and free-range practices for healthier animals, people, and land (right). Photos by Mercy for Animals on Wikimedia Commons (left) and Jim Richardson (right).
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Frank Reese with his turkeys. Photo by Jim Richardson.
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Rendering by MASS Design Group.

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Local Futures works to renew ecological, social and spiritual well-being by promoting a systemic shift towards economic localization.

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