We’re kicking off Giving Tuesday early this year! Your donation today will be matched up to $10K, doubling your impact! If you donate $50 today, the Reader will receive $100.

The Reader is now a community-funded nonprofit newsroom. Can we count on your support to help keep us publishing?

Thanks to progress, cement is quickly replacing mud as the building material of choice in Eastern deserts. Big mistake, according to architecture historian Jean-Louis Bourgeois, who contends that not only is mud cheaper, it’s cooler and lasts longer. Not to mention the overwhelming aesthetic benefits: desert dwellings constructed largely of treated, unbaked, sun-dried mud become live-in sculptures, as in the case of this West African village of mud castles. This photograph is one of many by Carollee Pelos in the Field Museum exhibition “Spectacular Vernacular: Traditional Desert Architecture From West Africa and Southwest Asia,” on view July 22 through September 7. Admission to the museum, Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive, is $2, $1 for kids 6-17, $4 for families; hours are 9 to 5 daily. Call 922-9410 for more.