The USPS Dramatically Redesigns Its Mail Trucks, and Other News

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New USPS mail truck by Oshkosh

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Oshkosh wins a bid to redesign the USPS’s woefully out-of-date fleet of mail trucks.

Following a years-long competition, the United States Postal Service has revealed initial visuals of its new mail truck. The fleet will be built by the Wisconsin-based defense contractor Oshkosh and features more cargo space, better ergonomics, air conditioning (!), and drastically bigger windshields that offer mail carriers better views of pedestrians and cyclists. The USPS had been looking to replace its woefully out-of-date mail trucks for years, having originally started accepting solicitations for new designs back in 2015, but a series of setbacks delayed the rollout. The new fleet is expected to hit the road in 2023.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial announces Soil Lab as its first 2021 commission. 

Last October, the Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) revealed the citywide exhibition’s 2021 edition, The Available City. CAB also announced a partnership with the Copenhagen-based Danish Arts Foundation (DAF), which was to commission a major work by a Danish artist that responds to themes explored in The Available City while involving community residents, stakeholders, and students. Recently, CAB and DAF announced the winner of the DAF Open Call as Soil Lab, a project that builds upon efforts to transform vacant lots across Chicago into vibrant, multifaceted community assets. Soil Lab will put its efforts squarely on North Lawndale, a West Side community often described as the “most architecturally eclectic” in the city.   

3-D printed school by Studio Mortazavi

The world’s first 3D-printed school, designed by Studio Mortazavi, will open in Madagascar.

Studio Mortazavi has designed the world’s first 3D-printed school for the nonprofit Thinking Huts in Madagascar. Located in Fianarantsoa, the school will feature pods made from concrete and local materials and powered by solar energy. The structures will serve as classrooms, science labs, dance studios, and more.

Capitol insurrectionists deployed bear spray and damaged artworks, officials say. 

The Architect of the Capitol has revealed more details about the events of January 6, saying staff “raced to the roof to reverse the airflows” to clear out “bear repellents and pepper spray” used by the MAGA insurrectionists. Meanwhile, house curator Farar Elliott divulged damage the mob did to eight pieces of the House Collection, including a Thomas Jefferson statue and a James Madison painting. Both are scheduled to testify before Congress today.   

The Aga Khan Museum acquires a giant Lego sculpture of an ancient African city.

A colossal Lego sculpture is headed for the Aga Khan Museum. The Toronto institution has acquired one of the latest works by the Ghanaian-Canadian artist Ekow Nimako, who’s known for Afrofuturist reinterpretations of Black histories built from Lego bricks. The 30-square-foot sculpture Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE (2019) envisions the ancient trading town in Mauritania one thousand years in the future as a bustling metropolis; the city was once the center of the trans-Saharan trade route at the height of the Ghana Empire. The work was the centerpiece of Nimako’s 2019 solo exhibition “Building Black: Civilisations” at the museum.

Munch Museum in Oslo. Photography by Adria Goula

Edward Munch’s works find their way into a glimmering waterfront home in Oslo.

While he’s best known for The Scream (currently in the collection at The National Museum in Oslo), much of Edward Munch’s work was inspired by the spring—vernal landscapes of Norway. Coincidentally, this spring marks a fresh start for the country’s most famous painter. Designed by the architecture practice Estudio Herreros, the new Munch museum features 11 exhibition halls of varied ceiling heights and square footages, offering dynamic settings for a collection that comprises some 42,300 personal objects, including 26,000 works by the artist. 

As financial losses continue to worsen, the Whitney Museum lays off 15 more staffers.

Even though museums and galleries have steadily reopened after initial shutdowns, cultural institutions are still reeling from the financial fallout caused by prolonged closures. The Whitney Museum in New York recently laid off 15 workers across 11 departments as part of an ongoing attempt to address the dire financial effects caused by the pandemic. According to Adam Weinberg, the museum’s director, ticket sales have been down 80 percent compared to the same period last year. “Unfortunately, the pandemic is prolonging the Whitney’s financial losses, which to date amount to $23 million,” Weinberg says. This new round of layoffs follows the termination of 76 employees when the shutdown first started.

Baarack, a sheep rescued in Australia

Today’s attractive distractions:

Rescuers sheared 77 pounds of fleece off an ailing Australian sheep.

New York architect Andrew Bruno draws a house from scratch every day.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness brand, Goop, enters the vibrator business.

This housebound beaver instinctively dammed doorways with objects.

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