Infrastructure

Laetitia Wolff
Practical Utopias: Luca Ballarini, Turin’s Designer-Caretaker
Utopia + care-taking of our cities sound like opposites, in fact they’re complementary to creating vibrant, greener, more inclusive communities.


Victoria Sloan
Meet Me Under the Bents
There are now more than 25 so-called “infrastructure parks” in North America, including Canada’s Bentway.


Lee Moreau + Devorah Klein
The Futures Archive S1E6: The Toilet
On this episode of The Futures Archive, host Lee Moreau and this episode’s guest host, Devorah Klein, discuss the toilet, privacy, and connections.


Jessica Helfand + Ellen McGirt
S9E10: Quemuel Arroyo
Quemuel Arroyo is the first ever chief accessibility officer at the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority.


Laetitia Wolff
Design is Capital: Five Lessons I Learned from Lille
Useful ingredients to bring design to cities.


Laura Scherling
How Micromobility Vehicles are Redesigning Global Transportation Systems
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt business-as-usual, a micromobility revolution is quietly moving forward.


Laura Scherling
A Tale of Long Island City: Between Industrialization, Innovation, and Gentrification
The multi-faceted aspects of development in Long Island City, with creative and technological development deeply ingrained in it’s rich urban identity and history.


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
Ecuador, Open Knowledge, and ‘Buen Vivir’: Interview With Michel Bauwens
John Thackara interviews Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation, is to lead a strategic policy project for Ecuador’s government called Free/Libre Open Knowledge (FLOK), also known as the social knowledge economy project.


Alexandra Lange, and Mark Lamster
Lunch with the Critics: Fourth-Annual Year-End Awards
Our intrepid critics, Alexandra Lange and Mark Lamster, celebrate (and castigate) the best and worst architecture and design of 2013.



Rick Poynor
Belgian Solutions: The True State of Things?
The foul-ups or “Belgian solutions” in a new book of street photographs are simply the way things are.


John Thackara
Trust Is Not An Algorithm
By some accounts the world’s information is doubling every two years. This impressive if unprovable fact has got many people wondering: what to do with it?



Observed
Parking Meter History
The history of the parking meter — originally designed to have a positive affect on traffic flow and shopping.



Philip Nobel
Oops: Understanding Failure
A review of To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure, by Henry Petroski.



Observed
A Campaign to Save The Post Office
Tucker Nichols is campaigning to save the Post Office.



Observed
Forgotten Tube Stations
A graphic tribute to the forgotten stations of the London Underground.



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


Alexandra Lange
Knolling Your Polling Place
Knolling your polling place: for the next election, a little spatial organization would go a long way.


Rob Walker
The Infrastructure of the Cloud
On the material structures we depend on to deliver us the immaterial digital world.


John Thackara
Design In The Light of Dark Energy
A shortened version of a talk on why the world has to reduce energy consumption, the five per cent energy solution and some of the people around the world who are leading the way.


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


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
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
Jane Jacobs Is Still Watching
Despite my dislike of Jane Jacobs's beef with architects and planners, so many points seem strangely prescient.



Roger Martin
Design Thinking Comes to the U.S. Army
Design is almost overnight the centerpiece of military doctrine and the U.S. Army has gotten design thinking quite right. The struggle to get design thinking ensconced in Army doctrine, though, is no easy feat.



Alexandra Lange
Welcome to Fort Brooklyn
Let us sincerely hope that the Atlantic Terminal Entrance in Brooklyn, a gateway to the LIRR and the hub’s many subways, marks the end of empty transport monumentality.



Ernest Beck
GlobalTap
Report on prototype for GlobalTap water refilling stations.



Rachel Berger
A Makeover for the BART Map
Unlike the notorious 1972 Massimo Vignelli redesign of the New York City subway map, the new BART map didn't make much of a splash in graphic design circles.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: Sustainable Food and Childhood Obesity
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the Sustainable Food Project focused on accelerating the shift from a global, abstract food system to a regional, real food system via a robust portfolio of activities — including a grand challenge and a series of youth-engagement programs.



Jonathan Schultz
Better Place
Report on Better Place, winner of the 2009 INDEX Award in the Community category.



Observed


The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently announced that it would eliminate the term “equity” from its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) language. “What organizations like SHRM may or may not realize is that abandoning the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion causes real harm and serious pain,” says Amira Barger. “By sidelining equity, SHRM’s move may unintentionally exacerbate something called ‘dirty pain.’”

“As a person who spent the first part of my career as a graphic designer and art director, I immediately saw the visual power and nearly infinite graphic possibilities of this image.” In today's New York Times, Charles Blow discusses the irrefutable power of an iconic photograph.

In New York City, The Design Trust for Public Space is looking for photographers with “unique lenses on an equitable water future for New York”. Deadline for entry is 11 August. More here.

One artist's (musical) cry for help—or at least, fewer fast-food franchises in North Adams, Massachusetts.

“My design philosophy is to make people happy and comfortable in their environment,” says the 83-year old Irish designer known simply by her first name—Clodagh. “Since I don’t know the rules, I can actually break them all the time.” 

Design for accessibility, blessedly, is on the minds of architects and builders all over the world. Given the fact that an estimated 15-20% of the population is neurodivergent, commercial buildings are increasingly working to become more welcoming, inclusive, and comfortable for all individuals.

“While designers are eager for praise and acclaim and create an aura of ostensibly cultured and intellectual pursuit, often involving awards and accolades, design itself takes no responsibility for what happens when things go wrong.” An excerpt from Manuel Lima's latest book.  

Scientists are designing a space suit that converts urine into drinking water. More here.

Graphology geeks, rejoice! A new book featuring a selection of treasures from the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford is out from our friends at University of Chicago Press.

Sad but true: according to Q1 data collected by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, undergraduates choosing to major in Art History, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, and Graphic Design are associated with the highest rates of unemployment across the nation.

The Underground Railroad Stamps, for the United States Postal Service—released in May— feature 10 portraits of some of the men and women who escaped slavery and/or helped others escape: Catharine Coffin, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Garrett, Laura Haviland, Lewis Hayden, Harriet Jacobs, William Lambert, Jermain Loguen, William Still and Harriet Tubman. Designed by Antonio Alcalá, of Studio A,  the stamp, observes Steven Heller, “has done an important job of teaching American history to the public through these miniature ‘posters’ ”.

Randy Hunt is the new chair of the MFA “Designer as Entrepreneur” program at the School of Visual Arts in New York, succeeding founding co-chairs Steven Heller and Lita Talarico.

At Tulane, architecture students build homes for the homeless.

Cesar Rivera—who leads design for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta—has been named the next board chair of AIGA.

Founded in 1944 by Winston Churchill’s government to help accelerate post-war economic growth, The UK Design Council is on a mission to put the planet at the heart of the sector’s work.

Figma's new AI tool hits a roadblock.

Unlike most of the world, Iceland's design scene skews overwhelmingly female. Nat Barker explores what makes the tiny Nordic nation so different.

"If MoMA is going to get serious about this world, it needs to start by dumping the whole concept of “Latin America” and start getting specific." Carolina A. Miranda skillfully reviews Crafting Modernity, an exhibition about design (yes, in Latin America) that runs through the summer at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Logo lunacy for the New York Jets!

Professor Nayef Al-Rodhan—a philosopher, neuroscientist, geostrategist, and futurologist who currently leads the Geopolitics and Global Futures Department at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in Switzerland—holds strong opinions about architecture, which he characterizes as “an intrinsically philosophical enterprise grounded in aesthetics and ethics, including theories of human nature”. And he has something to say about its future, particularly in the age of artificial intelligence.

Co. Design is now Fast Company Design.

From our friends at the MITPress Reader (an occasional newsletter that we can't recommend highly enough), the architect Moshe Safdie offers a beautiful remembrance of steps—and insights on their complexity—that led him to a life in design. (Also in this edition: graphic design enthusiasts will love this story on the design of the original edition of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown's Learning from Las Vegas.)

At The Design Museum in London, a more "rainbow-hued version of the Barbie universe". 

Right-leaning public interest groups have filed a barrage of federal lawsuits intended to dismantle long-standing corporate and government programs that consider race in job placement. With an alleged goal of “complete race neutrality” (a view of radical equality that, for example, lawyers for the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty think is “in line with the Declaration of Independence”) litigants are chippping away at the use of affirmative action across America.  

As we wind down Pride Month 2024, a look at how queer theory apples to urban design: as theory and practice grows more empathetic towards the needs of its diverse stakeholders, queer urban design brings a broad and holistic shift to understanding identity and community in publicly inhabited spaces, challenging traditional (and often rigid) methods of city planning by applying more inclusive criteria to reflect fluidity and interconnectedness. 

Longevity, by Design: Apple has published a 24-page document outlining its key principles for designing hardware that endures.

Manchester City released a brand-new club font to use on the player’s shirts. But instead of tapping the skills of renowned typeface firms who routinely work with sports teams and brands, the Premier League champions asked former Oasis rocker Noel Gallagher to submit a brief. So he did! And the crowd went wild.

Designer Vivienne Westwood’s personal wardrobe goes to auction.

The UK's Design Council has announced a plan to upskill one million designers for the green transition by 2030. Their report, A Blueprint for Renewal: Design and Technology Education, was published with a group of 20 design and education organizations. 

The Peabody-award nominated audio documentarians at Scene on Radio have just dropped CAPITALISM. A full season, a dozen or so episodes, exploring the world's dominant economic system -- how people shaped it over time and what to do about it now that more and more people see capitalism as the problem, not the solution. Produced by host/producer John Biewen with co-host Design Observer’s Ellen McGirt and story editor Loretta Williams, among other amazing collaborators.  The trailer is here; find it wherever you get your podcasts.



Jobs | July 23