OBSERVATORY : MARK LAMSTER
A melting pot. A quilt. These are convtentional metaphors for the modern city, but if you ask me, a better choice is the sandwich. What's more urban than a sandwich, ideally a pastrami on rye, from a good deli?Throw in a Dr. Brown's and a pickle and you've really got something: a combination of flavors that together make something complex with a little bite to it, something that may not be entirely good for you but sure tastes great and how could you live without it? That's a city defined right there.
PLACES : DAVID BURNEY & NANCY LEVINSON
For almost a decade David Burney has been Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction in New York City. In an interview with Places editor Nancy Levinson, he reflects on the urban design record of the Bloomberg years, focusing especially on PlaNYC, the ongoing post-Sandy recovery effort, and the potential for cities to take the lead in 21st-century sustainability planning.
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OBSERVATORY : ALEXANDRA LANGE
If you had to explain design to the uninitiated, where would you start? With tales from the literal trenches, where, in 246 BC, standardized bows and arrows allowed Ying Zheng to become the self-styled “First Emperor of China”? Or would you begin and end closer to home, exploring the design histories of the kitchen drawers and appliances you see before you, from fork to spoon to spit? Two recent books, Hello World
and Consider the Fork
, try different variations.
OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER
In the the 1950s and 60s, the heyday of what was then called Red China by the West, millions of posters like these were placed in shop windows and factory walls throughout the mainland — all designed to spread fear of U.S. Imperialism and promote the ideals of Communism.
OBSERVATORY : JOSHUA WEINER
I admire the poem for its spareness, for the way the sadness of the pain of the body is simple and blunt like the wish to be known. It feels beleaguered, hollowed from impersonality. The loose ends of clues are as unlikely to lead anywhere as the exhausted thoughts of a patient. The poem really does feel like being a patient in too many hospitals.
PLACES : THOMAS LOCKE HOBBS & AARON ROTHMAN
Thomas Locke Hobbs is interested in the subtle systems and forces that shape a sense of place in the urban landscape. The photographer lived in Buenos Aires for several years, and he uses that city's topography as the organizing principle of the series presented here. “After living in Buenos Aires for a while," he writes, "the flatness, the impossibility of having a vista from which to orient oneself, began to feel oppressive. I started taking pictures around a small but notable feature: the brief slant of the barely perceptible riverbank, or barranca
CHANGE OBSERVER : JOHN THACKARA
At a workshop in Delhi a few weeks back, during the UnBox Festival
, Arjun Mehta and myself posed the following question to a group of 20 professionals from diverse backgrounds: What new products, services or ingredients are needed to help a cycle commerce ecosystem flourish in India’s cities, towns and villages?
PLACES : DANIEL A. BARBER
For decades scientists and politicians — and environmentalists and architects — have been debating the benefits of moving from fossil fuels to renewable resources. Daniel Barber traces this debate back to the postwar era, when the potential of renewables was seen as boundless, and when, as Barber explains, leading scientists argued that shifting from carbon-based energy to the cleaner power of sun and wind "should be understood as a moral obligation even before it became an economic necessity."
CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE
Prototype for urban system to detect and prevent sewage overflows
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2005
From hot tubs to bodegas: a Houston subdivision built for the '60s singles lifestyle has found new energy as a multi-ethnic neighborhood.