Planning

Isometric Studio
Terms of Service: November Edition
Providing tangible steps to rethink institutions from the ground up and examine meaningful alternatives.


Andre Barnet
The Age of Wreckers and Exterminators
For many people, the sudden appearance of Carson’s and Jacobs’s brilliant and prescient books was one of those moments that seem, in retrospect, to have changed the very order of things.



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


Alexandra Lange
Learning New Tricks
Harvard doesn't have any design courses, but I've found new friends in "material culture." What it's like for a critic to go back to school.


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?


John Thackara
Healing The Metabolic Rift
John Thackara on the possibilities and issues global business leaders will face at the 2013 World Economic Forum.


Alexandra Lange
Kicked A Building Lately?
That question, the title of the 1976 collection of Ada Louise Huxtable’s work for the New York Times, embodies her approach to criticism.


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


John Thackara
Top Down Nature
An overview of Bordeaux 55,000: a project to explore ‘how best to transform 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) into natural areas’.


Rob Walker
The Built Villain
A Dallas condo dispute considered as a monster movie, starring a built villain.





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
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?


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
Architecture Research Office
Interview with Stephen Cassell and Adam Yarinsky on the occasion of their National Design Award



Fred A. Bernstein
The Next World’s Fair: A Proposal
Fred Bernstein makes a case for New York City to be the host of the next World's Fair.



Alexandra Lange
New Apple HQ, 1957
Wouldn't it be more radical for Apple to move back to town?


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



Alexandra Lange
Rendering v. Reality in Sukkah City
I was not planning to post anything about
Sukkah City. It all just looked like an architecture studio: so much effort, such worked-over results, and an inability to see the forest for the trees.



Jane Margolies
Renewing the Riverfront

Report on an exhibition showcasing efforts to revitalize a derelict patch of Brattleboro, Vermont.




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.



John Thackara
Whole, Whole on the Range
As a juror on the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge, John Thackara reviews the highlight.



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.



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.



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



Alexandra Lange
Won't Get Fooled Again
News of the redevelopment of the Atlantic Yards keeps getting worse.



Alexandra Lange
Waiting On the Dream
I wrote a piece on the (lack of) development in Midtown West , also known as the Hudson Yards.



Mark Lamster
A Plea for Crazy in Architecture
John Beckmann of the firm Axis Mundi is promoting an alternative to the Jean Nouvel tower that looks like a half-baked amalgam of several MVRDV projects.


The Design Observer Cooperative

Observed | January 19

“Our lives should be marked not by “comps” and metrics and filters and proofs of concept and virality but by tight circles and improvisation and adventure and lots and lots of creative waste. And not just to save ourselves, but to save each other.” [JH]


Observed | January 18

How architects write fictional architecture. [JH]

Beautiful weather rendering from Will MacNeil. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | January 14

A New European Bauhaus? [JH]


Observed | January 13

Though it was later determined to be troll-driven, design twitter went bananas this week over the new CIA rebrand. [JH]

Women either decide or strongly influence 70% of all automotive purchases yet are 73% more likely to suffer injury in a car crash, and 17% more likely to die than the average man. A design problem? [JH]


Observed | January 12

Joy, disillusion, success, failure, hiring, finances, office space—just some of the topics in All in a Day’s Work, a new animated series about being an entrepreneur from our friends at Mailchimp in collaboration with It’s Nice That. [BV]


Observed | January 11

When Pac-Man arrived in 1980, it revolutionized gaming. The original game is at the root of a rich design tradition, one that goes well beyond detailed graphics and fluid controls. [BV]

Can the story of a pandemic be told in a single headline every day? David Rainbird collected headlines about the pandemic as a way of making sense of the infodemic that was 2020. [BV]


Observed | January 05

Paul Klee’s notebooks—nearly 4,000 pages of them—are now online. [JH]


Observed | December 30

“On cream-laid paper there is no “forward” button.” New York Times book critic Dwight Garner on the lost art of paper correspondence. [JH]


Observed | December 29

Job of the week: Yale’s British Art Center is looking for a new Design Director. [JH]


Observed | December 21

Renowned Swiss Designer Armin Hoffman dies at 100. [JH]

Screw mediocrity: Scottish industrial designer Neil Ferrier weighs in on a typographic mistake that turned out to benefit his career. [JH]

“That the cover of a book — something produced with a finite shelf life — could grip us throughout such a bitter, caustic year is either a triumph of artistry or a sign that our collective alarm bells are still not ringing loudly enough.” Matt Dorfman, Art Director for the New York Times Book Review, selects his favorite covers of 2020. [JH]


Observed | December 17

How custom fonts became the ultimate corporate flex. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]

First world problem of the week, or, why graphic design matters on your wine list. Behold: vinography! [JH]

Italian architect Stefano Boeri introduces prefabricated timber and fabric pavilions as Covid-19 vaccination stations in public piazzas across Italy beginning in January. (H/T Adina Karp.) [JH]


Observed | December 14

Pantone names its colors of the year for 2021. [JH]

Apparently not all architects declare. [JH]


Observed | December 11

“Royalty Now” is an ongoing art project by graphic designer Becca Saladin that reimagines queens, kings, emperors, statesmen, nobles, (and a few famous musicians, scientists and artists) as contemporary people. Follow her on Instagram. [JH]

Forest Young, Vivianne Castillo, Kelly Walters, and Dori Tunstall—among others—on the new design rules and why they matter. [JH]


Observed | December 10

Currently streaming: What Next? A virtual symposium discussing luxury as a concept and the ethical and moral questions surrounding it. [BV]


Observed | December 07

One week left to help support St. Bride’s magnificent library—and contribute to their efforts to digitize it for the rest of us. [JH]

Typography. Esports. Discuss! [JH]

Everything you ever wanted to know about a rejected Paul Rand logo for Ford Motor Company—from 1966—but were afraid to ask. (With apologies for the term “fancy-schmancy design trends” which would make Mr. Rand spin in his grave.) [JH]


Observed | December 03

Help our friends at Class Action fund their next campaign, a series of billboards in the hotly-contested state of Georgia. [JH]

Kern in hell! Announcing: Hell Vetica (via Victoria Brown). [JH]


Observed | November 30

Help our friends at Unit Editions produce a long-overdue monograph on the work of artist and designer Ed Fella. [JH]


Observed | November 18

You may congratulate yourself for being a good listener, but often it’s the powerful who get to listen and decide what to hear. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]



Jobs | January 21