THE WEEK’S BEST: Design, architecture, and technology

What I wrote last week:

Noting. I’m worthless.

What I shot last week:

Design, architecture, and technology digest:

Architecture and Design: Cities

If Location Is an Asset, High Rent Is ‘Saving’ for the Future — CityLab

The paper, authored by Esteban Rossi-Hansberg and Adrien Bilal, a Princeton University economics professor and Ph.D student respectively, explains that as with any form of investment, the place you choose to settle or stay has a cost associated with it—i.e., how much you’re paying in rent. And every location pays back on that investment in job opportunities, education for your children, cultural amenities, and so forth. Whether it’s Wichita, Palo Alto, Durham, or the heart of Manhattan, your location should be considered an asset with which you can make different investment decisions.

As Google Maps Renames Neighborhoods, Residents Fume — New York Times

The swift rebranding of the roughly 170-year-old district is just one example of how Google Maps has now become the primary arbiter of place names. With decisions made by a few Google cartographers, the identity of a city, town or neighborhood can be reshaped, illustrating the outsize influence that Silicon Valley increasingly has in the real world.

Starbucks Has Seen the Future. It Looks Like a Drive-Through Window. — Bloomberg Opinion

What might be surprising to residents of dense, wealthy cities like Seattle and New York is that Starbucks says these suburban drive-through locations in middle America are outperforming their traditional urban locations that don’t have drive-throughs. The company noted that these drive-through locations have 25 to 30 percent higher revenue than their typical metro locations with no drive-through.

Will Millennials Stay Downtown? — CityLab

When projections set marriage rates, educational attainment, and racial diversity at 2015 levels, then it’s easy to find evidence for a “peak Millennial” scenario of adults fleeing cities by 2035. Yet marriage rates are declining, adults are gaining higher levels of education, and the population is growing more diverse. Accounting for a more racially diverse society, for example, changes the forecast to stronger urban growth. “When I take into account the long-term trends in marriage rates and education level,” Lee writes, “the growth of downtown and inner city areas is even more accelerated, mainly at the expense of the most peripheral areas.”

Don’t Blame Uber for Your City’s Congestion — Bloomberg Opinion

Anti-congestion measures should affect all kinds of vehicles – private cars, cabs, Ubers, short-time and long-time rentals. They should only be allowed to use faster lanes when they carry no fewer than three people, and in cities with the nastiest traffic, they should probably be kept out of the most congested areas if they only have one or two occupants. At the same time, cities need to invest in public transportation to keep it competitive; if the subway is seedy and unsafe and buses don’t run on time, people will be forced to consider alternatives, even costly and slow ones.

Architecture and Design: Style

These Unconventional Playgrounds Could Make Your Kids More Creative — Artsy

One such adventure playground, as they are known, opened on New York City’s Governor’s Island in 2016. The 50,000-square-foot outdoor site, called The Yard, bears little resemblance to the colorful jungle gyms that the word “playground” typically conjures. Instead, it’s an expansive patch of dirt and grass piled with junkyard detritus such as tires, crates, traffic cones, and an old kayak. On sunny days, from spring through fall, it’s rife with children donning capes and splashing in puddles, and posting up at workbenches to use saws, hammers, and other small hand tools.

Why Rem Koolhaas Thinks We Should All ‘Pay Attention’ to the Countryside — Architectural Digest

Countryside: Future of the World will focus on the effects of technology, global warming, and politics on rural areas. The architect studied 12 to 15 rural areas across the world and will illuminate various developments through mixed media, including film, documents, and paintings.

“I think there’s an enormous apocalyptic quality, but it’s not all bad. Simply, [the show] says, ‘Pay attention to the countryside.’ It’s definitely not a negative show. It’s saying, ‘Be aware,’” Rem says.

How Graffiti Artists Are Fighting Back against Brands That Steal Their Work — Artsy

As graffiti has come to be seen as a visual shorthand for authenticity and creativity, major companies in every industry—from fashion labels and automakers to that paragon of multinational dullness, McDonald’s—are increasingly trying to tap into its “cool” factor, often without seeking the artist’s permission.


A must watch: Amanda Hess of the New York Times on…

The Hidden Language of Hands Videos

Welcome Our New Fembot Overlords

Dogs Took Over the Internet. Our Souls Are at Stake.

The Rise of the Ironic Racist

The Ugly Business of Beauty Apps

The Dark Art of Political Memes

How the Internet Fuels Paranoid Thinking

Apple’s $1 Trillion Milestone Reflects Rise of Powerful Megacompanies — New York Times

The consolidation is especially pronounced in the technology sector, where a group of large, efficient companies now lord over the fastest-growing and most dynamic parts of the United States economy.

When the iPhone was introduced in 2007, it quickly transformed the way society interacts with technology. More than 1.4 billion have been sold since.

Apple and Google combined now provide the software for 99 percent of all smartphones. Facebook and Google take 59 cents of every dollar spent on online advertising in the United States. Amazon exerts utter dominance over online shopping and is getting bigger, fast, in areas like streaming of music and videos.

Stumbles? What Stumbles? Big Tech Is as Strong as Ever — New York Times

The earnings reports show that all of the five are investing heavily in the tech that will dominate the future, from artificial intelligence to voice services to self-driving cars.

“The one thing that is likely to keep these companies at the top for much longer than traditional megacap companies is that they are not afraid to reinvent themselves,” Mr. Squali said. “They see themselves as laboratories for new ideas, and they’re not afraid to destroy something that’s working today to make the longer-term work even better for them.”

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