Design

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

The Strange, Cool Job of Picking the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Meet the Rock's head gardener, responsible for finding NYC's most iconic holiday tree.

m01229/Flickr; Allison Smith

The Clone of My Hometown in China

Why the country is building its own version of the American West.

Quito Eterno

How Costumed Tours Helped Transform Quito

By stirring pride in Ecuador's history, the tour group Quito Eterno contributed to the revival of its capital city.

Guggenheim

Here Are the Top 6 Designs for the Guggenheim Helsinki, and They're All a Bad Idea

Finns are right to ask whether Helsinki needs the Guggenheim as much as the Guggenheim needs the harbor city.

Maps
Nick Owen/MSF

Open-Source Mapping the World's Most Vulnerable Regions Will Save Lives

Urgent humanitarian aid missions are slowed when cities are largely unmapped. Missing Maps aims to change that with the help of volunteer cartographers and local residents.

Maps
Fathom

You'd Never Know From These Beautiful Maps That U.S. Infrastructure Is Crumbling

These monochrome renderings depict only roads.

1Week1Project

A Sky-High Memorial to Qatar's Rising World-Cup Death Toll

Each building stone represents one deceased Nepalese migrant worker.

Wendell/Flickr

Why an Affluent Suburb Rallied Behind Affordable Housing

A church and an interfaith housing group got Edina, Minnesota, to back a new project for at-risk youth—although a few holdouts remain.

Photos
AP/Natacha Pisarenko

South America's First Subway Turns 101

Buenos Aires' oldest subways cars didn't quite make it to 100 years in service. State and city officials hope to give new life to the retired La Brugeoise cars soon.

Ohneka Farms

You Could Have Grown Your Thanksgiving Bounty In the Kitchen

This hydroponic techno-planter requires little care, needs no dirt, and glows like a magic mushroom.

Elizabeth Preston

Why You Probably Can't Draw a Map of Your City From Memory

Human sense of direction first relies on "egocentric" knowledge of places, like landmarks. Conceptualizing the overall lay of the land is much harder.

Videos

Take a Drone Tour Above a City Abandoned During Chernobyl

A photographer explores by air a forgotten city where nature has forged on.

Courtesy Zachary Caceres

How Local Governments Could Work More Like Cell Phones

A young American in Guatemala wants to bring a spirit of entrepreneurship to municipal governance through his think tank, the Startup Cities Institute.

Videos
Youtube/E . Stephanian

Lewis Baltz, Famed Photographer of Post-War Sprawl, Dies at 69

"I tried to show myself as an anthropologist from a different solar system. What kind of new world was being built here?"

Christos Georghiou/Shutterstock.com

Predict Your Date of Death With This Gloomy Data Visualization

This World Bank-supported project asks, "What's my place in the world population? How long will I live?"

Courtesy James Rojas

Wanted: More (and Better) Discourse on Designing Diverse Communities

Broadening our understanding of how different groups interact with their physical environments would be a great first step.

Maps
Flickr/Tabsinthe

How to Make a Better Map—Using Neuroscience

These three cartographers are applying advances in brain science and cognitive psychology to their work.

Photos
Victoria Lautman

Can India's Ancient Stepwells Help Solve the Country's Water Crisis?

Now largely obsolete, these Escher-like cisterns were once monuments of public life. And in the midst of water shortage, stepwells may refill their civic role.

Flickr/Paalia

Why People Write on Bathroom Walls

The study of "latrinalia" reveals deep connections between environment, social mores, and why dudes draw penises while women tend to scribble romantic poetry in public potties.