Latest Articles in Urban Planning

Transit Seats LAMetro

Best Design for Transit Seating

This weekend our pals over at The Bay Citizen came out with a very alarming report: After running a few tests on the seats of San Francisco's two main transit systems—Muni and Bay Area Rapid Transit—the fabric covering BART seats is disgusting. Beyond the spilled lattes and the occasional pool of vomit, scientists found all manner of bacteria, including methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a dangerous flesh-eating bacteria. I'd been chatting with an editor friend of mine at the Citizen and we agreed that Dwell would throw its design journalism hat in the ring with an interview on what separates good transit seating from bad. I had a chat with Paul Martus, senior industrial designer with American Seating about just this thing. Martus has worked on seating on buses and in public spaces. American Seating traces its legacy back to the 1880s and counts city bus lines, Fenway Park, and Madison Square Gardens as just a few of its clients. Here's what Paul had to say.   
March 7, 2011
Professor Suleiman Osman of George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Brownstone Brooklyn

In our New York issue, on newsstands now, we take a look at all five boroughs of America's biggest, most vital city. One that ends up getting quite a bit of play in Dwell is increasingly-less-scrappy Brooklyn. A subject professor Suleiman Osman of George Washington University takes up in his new book The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar New York. Out this month from Oxford University Press, the book takes a look at the wave of "brownstoners" who moved into what was then known as "South Brooklyn" (you might now know it as Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Clinton HIll and other neighborhoods) in search of cheap real estate, a sense of neighborhoody history, and an antidote to suburban living. I chatted with Osman about the book, the future of Brooklyn, and the legacy of the brownstoners of the late 60s and early 70s.
March 1, 2011
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You Are Where You Live

The ads in the real estate section of the Sunday New York Times are a barometer of perceived need: what we think about when we are at our hungriest, our most grasping, our most insecure. Like the Times’ wedding announcements—which are now detailed narratives about love at first sight, missed opportunities, and second chances—the ads are a literary form dealing primarily with desire. With little more than newsprint and ink, they dangle the hope that we will someday carve out a permanent place in this turbulent city. They whisper the word “stability.”
February 27, 2011
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Design and History of Tahrir Square

Nezar AlSayyad is a Cairo-born professor of Architecture, Planning and Urban History and the chair of Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He's also a lucid thinker and the author of the forthcoming book Cairo: Histories of a City from Harvard University Press. I've spoken with Nezar a couple times before, but with the magnificent success of the recent Egyptian protests and with Tahrir Square entering the popular American lexicon I wanted to put a few questions about the design, history, and spirit of the place to the professor. I was fascinated by what he had to say.
February 21, 2011
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Friday Finds 2.18.11

Every Friday Dwell's editors, designers, and interns share a handful of their favorite blogs, videos, photographs, and stories appearing on the web. What piqued our interest this week? A colorful map documenting the demographics of Chicago, flipbooks filmed and set to 1940's swing music, and the Westminster Dog Show.
February 18, 2011
Portrait courtesy <a href="">Michael Cooper</a>

Witold Rybczynski: Makeshift Metropolis

Witold Rybczynski has been called  “architecture’s voice in the world of letters” by The Weekly Standard. He writes about design and planning for The New York Times, the Atlantic, The New Yorker, and Slate. He’s been awarded the Vincent Scully Prize by the National Building Museum, and he’s the author of a number of award-winning books. He also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, where his students are primarily MBA’s from the Wharton School of Business. His new book, Makeshift Metropolis, not only addresses the past 100 years of trends and development in American cities, but also offers a wise and perceptive look into our urban future. We talked to him recently about planning, architecture, cities and development.  
January 1, 2011
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Robert Hammond: Chance Encounters

Robert Hammond has just returned from a year in Rome. While there he created an urban experiment called Chance Encounter on the Tiber, involving 100 chairs in public spaces in Italy. Now back in New York, Robert is fast at work at the High Line, the landscaped pedestrian pathway project that he co-founded. Dwell recently had a chance to discuss his year abroad, and hear about the next phases of the "park in the sky".  
December 13, 2010
Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Park

One of the highlights of my trip to Seattle was taking an early morning photo jog from downtown over to—and through—the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park. Designed by Weiss/Manfredi and completed in January 2007, the park mitigates the 40-vertical-foot difference between the residential neighborhood along Western Avenue and the waterfront below. The zig-zagging design is speckled with sculptures by artists like Alexander Calder and Richard Serra and earlier this year earned our approval as a city park "Done Right."
November 1, 2010
Laphams Quarterly City Cover Crop fix

Lapham's Quarterly on the City

I fell hard for Lapham's Quarterly earlier this year when by chance I happened into a bookstore shortly before founder Lewis Lapham gave not so much a reading as a recounting of his decades as a journalist. He was as erudite as he was well-dressed and his talk ranged from his young days in San Francisco and with the San Francisco Chronicle through his time as the editor of Harper's to the founding of Lapham's Quarterly. His brand of intellectual inquiry is far ranging and deeply indebted to history, and reading through an issue of the journal feels less like a trek through the varieties of thought the last several milennia has produced than a perfectly made cache of knowledge with which to arm oneself for the next serious debate. The current issue of Lapham's Quarterly is dedicated to The City, and it's well worth your time.
October 5, 2010