Urbanism

Rick Poynor
Exposure: Wintery Forest by Yang Yongliang
Building the new China


Rob Walker
Human-Scale Intervention
How Rotten Apple’s human-scale design interventions use built-environment cast-offs to enhance the built environment


Rob Walker
Watch Where You Walk
Everybody is pro-walking these days. But here’s a project that reveals the value of stopping and looking.


Rob Walker
Infrastructure Field Trips
The Macro City conference in the Bay Area includes "field trips" to examine "overlooked networks of infrastructure that surrounds us," firsthand.


John Thackara
Cloud Commuting
A two-year project in Belgium proposes new relationships between people, goods, energy, equipment, spaces, and value. Its design objective: a networked mobility ecosystem.


Alexandra Lange
Not Afraid of Noise: Mexico City Stories
A photographic tour of Mexico City, house by house, wall by wall.



Alexandra Lange
Art On Campus
A review of the renovated Blaffer Art Museum and James Turrell's latest skyspace, "Twilight Epiphany."



Alexandra Lange
L.A. Loves Deborah Sussman
A Kickstarter for an upcming exhibition on the wotk of Deborah Sussman in Los Angeles.


Alexandra Lange
Where We Work
A Kickstarter for co-working space Makeshift Society points to the light, space and tools creative freelancers need to be productive.


Alexandra Lange
Rural Vacation | Urban Questions
Driving Vermont's rural routes I began to wonder: Why does this town get a brand-new energy-efficient supermarket, and that one a minimart-slash-video store-slash-bank?


Rob Walker
Looking Better, All The Time
Alexandra Horowitz' book On Looking offers a framework, and specific tactics, for smarter seeing.


Alexandra Lange
Every Little Thing
Cranbrook: A campus where the designers have thought of everything.


Alexandra Lange
The Fork and the World: Design 101
If you had to explain design to the uninitiated, where would you start?


Alexandra Lange
What It Costs (to Buy a Bench, to Extend a Curb)
Participatory budgeting lets communities put their own urban priorities in order.


Alexandra Lange
Instagramming Around Australia
Lessons from contemporary Australian architecture, plus what I saw on Instagram.





Alexandra Lange
Patterns of Houston
How do you critique the urbanism of Houston? Look for patterns.



Observed
Celebrate World Toilet Day
2.6 billion people don't have access to a toilet. For them poop can be poison.


John Thackara
From Autobahn to Bioregion
A review of the projects submitted to the Audi Urban Future Award.


Alexandra Lange
Having Fun at the Museum
Blocks, rocket ships, playgrounds and balls: the hidden meaning of playthings at the Museum of Modern Art.



Alexandra Lange
Art Matters to Architecture
In Indianapolis, a restored Milton Glaser mural allows us to see its Brutalist home as its architect intended: with color!


Alexandra Lange
The Shape of Lunch
"Lunch Hour NYC," a new exhibition at the New York Public Library, defines the midday meal as an urban invention.





Julia Novitch
Public Space and Citizenship: An Interview with Elihu Rubin
Public spaces can be charged politically because they enable citizens to gather, to represent themselves and to transmit messages.


Alexandra Lange
Against Kickstarter Urbanism
You can Kickstart an edible spoon, but not a city.


Alexandra Lange
Fixing South Street Seaport: Is New Architecture Enough?
Fighting over Ben Thompson's postmodernist landmark Pier 17 at South Street Seaport. Should it stay or should it go?


Alexandra Lange
Carlo Scarpa, Quilter
Olivetti and Doges: How Carlo Scarpa updated the Venetian treasure chest.


Alexandra Lange
City of Shoes: Is Urbanism Scalable?
Can Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh scale his online shoe business into a city?


Alexandra Lange
Reassembling the American Dream
"Foreclosed" at the Museum of Modern Art asks what people really like about suburban living. And then, Can they do that with less?



James Biber
Vestige(s) of Empire
Comparing the repurposing of two monuments to lost Empire: London's Commonwealth Institute and Berlin's Palast der Republik.



David Stairs
Demythologizing Design: Another View of "Design with the Other 90%: CITIES"
David Stairs reviews "Design with other 90%:Cities"



Phil Patton
Audi Urban Future Summit 2011
Report on one of the latest conferences to take on the global theme of the city


Alexandra Lange
Who Are We Competing For?
At the "Zoning the City" conference, planners insisted cities were in competition? But why are we so focused on the people who want to leave, rather than those who want to stay?


Alexandra Lange
Lessons from the High Line
How can the High Line become a new paradigm, and not a dead end?



Mark Lamster
Majority Report
Review of Design with the Other 90%: Cities


Alexandra Lange
Tell Me a Story, ‘Urbanized’
A city is not a font or a toothbrush, so why, in Urbanized, does director Gary Hustwit treat them the same way?


Alexandra Lange
What Makes Architecture Useful?
At Experimenta Design 2011, the buildings of Lisbon make the best argument for the ongoing usefulness of good design.


Alexandra Lange
Reading in Public
A new book club with an unusual topic: architecture and design.



Phil Patton
Boosting the Urban IQ
Summary of National Building Museum's "Intelligent Cities" symposium


Alexandra Lange
An Atlas of Possibility
The Institute for Urban Design's By the City/For the City project provokes crowd-sourced possibilities for New York's future.



Alexandra Lange
On GOOD: Why Are Car Seats So Poorly Designed?
If you want parents to use public transportation, first you have to fix the car seat.


Alexandra Lange
Bad Faith Towers
Atlantic Yards trades titanium dream for prefab reality.


Alexandra Lange
The Moms Aren’t Wrong
Why planning cities for children would make them better for us all.


John Thackara
The Service Ecology of a City
Milan has approved a new Territorial Government Plan (Piano di Governo del Territorio) in which public services, and the way they are planned, are at the centre of the whole project.


Alexandra Lange
New City Reader: Sidewalk Sale
How Atlantic Yards became Barclays Center and disappeared from Brooklyn in the process.



Maria Popova
CEOs for Cities Community Challenge: Robust Public Life
A CEOs for Cities conference held in Detroit in November 2010 sought to define and quantify the magnetic force of a metropolis.


John Thackara
Leave Nothing But Footsteps
“Take nothing but memories” Kalack concludes “and leave nothing but footsteps”.



William Drenttel, and Julie Lasky
Reasons Not to Be Pretty: Symposium on Design, Social Change and the “Museum”
In April 2010, 22 designers, historians, curators, educators and journalists met at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy to discuss the museum’s potential role in relation to design for social change. This is a report on their conversation.



Alexandra Lange
Archpaper Review: Our Cities Ourselves
Does one size fit all, even when it is oh-so-hot bikes and buses?



Alexandra Lange
Culture Shed: Where’s the Neighborhood?
CultureGrrl 
offers a critique of the NEA grant for Culture Shed, the Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group design for a Kunsthalle with retractable roofs over at Hudson Yards.



Alexandra Lange
The Personality of Parks
Until Pier 6 at 
Brooklyn Bridge Park opened, my only experience of parks as a parent had been of neighborhood parks





Jane Margolies
Rising Currents
Report on "Rising Currents," an exhibition of New York City design solutions to the flooding predicted by climate change experts, which will be on view at the Museum of Modern Art, March 24–August 9, 2010.



Bradford McKee
New Grub Street
Interview with photorapher Jonas Bendiksen following the opening of his exhibition "The Places We Live."



Jeff Speck
New Words on the Block
Jeff Speck reviews the Street Design Manual of the New York City Department of Transportation.



Michael Bierut
When Design Gets in the Way
When it comes to fulfilling simple human desires, can design get in the way? A call for more incrementalism in design.



John Thackara
Cities, Design and Democracy: Conversation with Sunil Abraham in Cluster
John Thackara and Sunil Abraham sit down for an in-depth interview with Cluster Magazine.



Observed | January 18

From The Amplifier Foundation—an extraordinary initiative that needs to be funded, now—before it’s too late. [JH]

From our friends at Continuum, a cogent, level-headed argument explaining why so many corporate-level design thinking initiatives are inevitably doomed to failure. [JH]

Shepard Fairey, Jessica Sabogal, and Ernesto Yerena launch a campaign to fund public art to protest the inauguration and beyond. [MB]


Observed | January 17

Extraordinary motion graphics from the French motion graphics genius Maxime Causeret, with music by Max Cooper. [JH]

The long lost connection between and Marilyn Monroe’s most famous scene and Design Observer’s own Bonnie Siegler. [MB]

Juventus—an Italian soccer team— reveals its pared down, minimalist new logo. You know what happens next. [JH]

“I want to create new things.” A New York Times profile of legendary book designer Irma Boom. [MB]

Peter Mendelsund on family, memory, and W.G. Sebald. [MB]

The suit is dead. Long live the suit! [JH]


Observed | January 16

V&A Head Designer Annabel Judd is taking on science. And here’s what’s happening Stateside. [JH]

Wells Fargo rejects a Black Lives Matter debit card. [JH]

Richard Prince disavows his appropriated Instagram portrait of Ivanka Trump and returns the money they paid him for it. [MB]


Observed | January 13

Yves Béhar designs a robot for the elderly he’s calling a “companion”. [JH]

Mr. Poopie explores the uncanny visual relationship between poop and ice cream. (Via Modes of Criticism.) [MB]

Shepherd Fairey’s protest posters. [JH]

Beautiful data: NYC-style but open and available to all. [JH]


Observed | January 12

The newly-minted field of “behavioral design” looks to have pretty much nothing to doing with design. Is taking design’s name in vain OK? I’m starting to wonder. [JH]

Sleep Mode is an exhibition on the art of the screensaver at Het Nieuwe Institute, Rotterdam. [MB]

Engineers at UCLA have come up with a design that offers unlimited phone bandwidth. [JH]

Everything you ever wanted to know about publishers, design, and newsletters. [JH]

Forget about robots taking our jobs: in Australia a new fashion startup lets customers design their own products. [JH]

The irresistible narrative behind the legendary napkin sketch that upended US tax policy. [MB]


Observed | January 11

The folk power of Jamaican dancehall signs. [MB]

Seven ways for architecture and design firms to attract top talent. [MB]

Is Thomas Heatherwick’s iconic update to the London double decker bus being discontinued? [MB]

The shopping experience at every mall in America can be traced back to one second-tier city in the Midwest. [MB]

In honor of his 86th birthday, a quick overview of Massimo Vignelli‘s enduring NYC subway legacy. [MB]

Meet Galina Balashova, the woman who spent three decades designing the interior of Soviet spacecraft. [MB]


Observed | January 10

Photographer Michael Wolf and the dazzling and depressing architecture of density in megacities. [MB]

Thomas Hine‘s Populuxe once imagined a sedan where four people could sit in the back seat and play bridge. That moment may be coming soon: the future of the “occupant” experience in self-driving cars, from BMW. [JH]



Jobs | January 18