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The Story of the Great Lakes in 8 Maps

December 11, 2017 Ι CityLab  Stretching across eight states and two Canadian provinces, the Great Lakes region contains the world’s largest freshwater system and is likely the greatest single surface aggregation of rare resources on the planet. If it was a standalone country, its economy would be the fourth largest in the world. Yet its natural resources and vibrant urbanity are seldom studied as a unified zone, and
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Does Apple’s New Chicago Store Have Something to Say About the Future of Cities?

Nov. 17, 2017 Ι Metropolis  The steel and carbon fiber roof of Chicago’s new Apple store is a few feet thick at its center, tapering down to inches at its edge. Starship metallic gray and rectangular, it resembles a closed MacBook laptop, which you can buy inside. The glass corners of the building, splendidly curved, call to mind the contours of an iPhone. In the parlance of Robert Venturi, it’s a “duck,” that is, a
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At this Montreal school, big sounds come in small packages

Doggerel Ι November 14, 2017  The design for La Musique Aux Enfants began with one key question: “How can we make a basement sound more like a concert hall?” said Willem Boning, an acoustic consultant with Arup. The brainchild of Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal director Kent Nagano, the Musique Aux Enfants program is a collaborative initiative by the orchestra, the Université de Montréal, and the Commission scolair
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Hurricane-Proof Construction Methods Can Prevent the Destruction of Communities

Redshift Ι Nov. 9, 2017 The four hurricanes that slammed into heavily populated areas from the Caribbean to Texas this summer are inching toward a half-trillion-dollar price tag in damages—to say nothing of the work and wages missed by shutting down entire cities. Buildings are the most visible marker of a place’s resilience after a disaster strikes. Surveying the catastrophic damage forces a difficult question: How
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Marshall Brown is Putting the Pieces Together

November 2017 Ι Architect Magazine  The studio of Marshall Brown is located on the South Side of Chicago in the Overton Hygienic Building, built in 1922. One of Chicago’s many early-20th-century brick and terra-cotta modest masterpieces, it has survived the tides of development and disinvestment that have washed over this part of the city. It was a hub for African-American businesses in one of the pre–Civil Rights er
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Decoding Oppression in Architecture: Design as a Tool for Social Justice

Oct. 24, 2017 Ι Redshift In the years since the Great Recession cratered the steel and glass fantasies of a generation of architects, architecture centered around social justice has gained salience and ever-loftier pedestals. But while architects speak of aspirational ways that design can inspire people to be better, more empathetic citizens, design often does the exact opposite: oppress and marginalize. Often applie
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Experimental City: The Sci-Fi Utopia That Never Was

Oct. 17, 2017 Ι CityLab To forestall the continuing growth of cities as “cancerous organisms,” the Minnesota Experimental City (MXC) was conceived in the mid-1960s by epochal technologist Athelstan Spilhaus. A modular settlement of 250,000 people or more, the city was to be powered by clean energy and run on public transit. Experimental City would be a tabula rasa—a place to begin anew, free from the constraints and
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Photo by Lee Bey.

Architecture Beyond the A-List

October 12, 2017 Ι CityLab Away from the main exhibit of the Chicago Architecture Biennial—the country’s biggest architecture festival, on show through January—there are a half-dozen smaller “anchor” shows, hosted by neighborhood arts organizations far from downtown. These reveal a different side to Chicago’s architectural legacy, famed for the White City of 1893, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the rational Modernism of Mie
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Frank Lloyd Wright Was a Proto-Algorithmic Architect

Metropolis Ι Oct. 12, 2017 Frank Lloyd Wright’s field of influence is so wide, it’s hard to tell where it starts and ends. As America’s foremost architect, he helped popularize design concepts that are held up as evidence of progressive values and progressive architecture. His notion of building with natural landscapes takes on new meaning in the era of low-carbon energy efficiency. His penchant for incorporating loc
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Machine Learning Eases Construction Project Management—and Prevents Catastrophes

Redshift Ι Oct. 2, 2017  In the fragmented building industry, “every single building is a prototype,” says Dustin Hartsuiker, manager of Technology Solutions for the California-based Swinerton Builders. Devoid of standardization and often assembled from custom-made components, buildings are unforgiving and inefficient experiments in fabrication, given to levels of risk and uncertainty unheard of in the world of produ
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