Design

A map of population density in Tokyo, circa 1926.

How to Detect the Distortions of Maps

All maps have biases. A new online exhibit explores the history of map distortions, from intentional propaganda to basic data literacy.

photo: Social-distancing stickers help elevator passengers at an IKEA store in Berlin.

Elevators Changed Cities. Will Coronavirus Change Elevators?

Fear of crowds in small spaces in the pandemic is spurring new norms and technological changes for the people-moving machines that make skyscrapers possible.

photo: The Pan-Am Worldport at JFK International Airport, built in 1960,

Why Airports Die

Expensive to build, hard to adapt to other uses, and now facing massive pandemic-related challenges, airport terminals often live short, difficult lives.

photo: A cyclist rides past a closure sign at an entrance to the Presidio Golf Course in San Francisco.

Need More Outdoor Public Space? Maybe Cities Already Have It.

With parks filled and social distancing in effect, cities need to find more room for residents to get outside during lockdowns. Here’s where it’s hiding.  

photo: The Manhattan skyline is reflected in a lake in New York City's Central Park

Density Isn’t Easy. But It’s Necessary.

Americans have always had a difficult relationship with urban density. But in a crisis, we need what cities can provide.

A Very Canadian Solution to Fight Coronavirus

Canada has managed to flatten the curve in new Covid-19 cases, but one group has a backup plan for converting skating and hockey rinks to medical facilities.

A Lesson from Social Distancing: Build Better Balconies

To have a balcony during coronavirus is to enjoy fresh air without anxiety. A lack of private outdoor spaces in many cities is partly by design.

photo: A deserted street 
in the Saint Michel district of Paris, France.

Is the City Itself the Problem?

There’s a long history of blaming urban areas rather than economic factors for physical and moral ills. But density can be an asset for fighting coronavirus.

illustration of a late-1800s bathroom

How Infectious Disease Defined the American Bathroom

Cholera and tuberculosis outbreaks transformed the design and technology of the home bathroom. Will Covid-19 inspire a new wave of hygiene innovation?

The Post-Pandemic Urban Future Is Already Here

The coronavirus crisis stands to dramatically reshape cities around the world. But the biggest revolutions in urban space may have begun before the pandemic.

Readers: Share Your Hand-Made Maps of Life Under Lockdown

As coronavirus transforms our private and public spaces, how would you map what your neighborhood and community look like now?

photo: Wrigley Field In Chicago on Opening Day 2020.

The Empty Baseball Stadiums of Opening Day

With the Major League Baseball season on hold, the ballparks of North America hosted no crowds for Opening Day 2020. Here’s a sad photo gallery.

A rendering from the proposed Sunnyside Yard master plan.

The Many Megaprojects of Sunnyside Yard

Sunnyside Yard may soon host 12,000 homes on a 180-acre site over a working rail yard. But for decades, Queens dreamed of using this site for sports.

photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.

Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

photo: In February 2005, Christo and Jeanne-Claude unveiled "The Gates" in New York's Central Park.

How 'The Gates' Triumphed Over New York’s NIMBYs

Fifteen years ago, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s audacious public art installation debuted in New York City's Central Park. We’ll never see anything like it again.

Changing Tides Engulf the South Street Seaport

Mayor Ed Koch wanted a family-friendly attraction for Lower Manhattan. But this 1983 icon of yuppie-era NYC was swept off course by changing tastes.

To Navigate Love, French Intellectuals Mapped It

Starting in the 17th century, allegorical maps became a way of talking about relationships, from the Castle of Cuckoldry to the Abyss of Despair.

photo: Masdar City in Abu Dhabi

What Abu Dhabi’s City of the Future Looks Like Now

At the UN’s World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi, attendees toured Masdar City, the master-planned eco-complex designed to show off the UAE’s commitment to sustainability.

Coronavirus Outbreak Maps Rooted in History

Cartographers are mapping the coronavirus in more sophisticated ways than past epidemics. But visualizing outbreaks dates back to cholera and yellow fever.

photo: the U.S. Supreme Court

The White House May Impose Classical Style on Federal Buildings

A draft executive order promising to “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” drew a fierce response from the American Institute of Architects.

photo: a cul-de-sac in Utah.

Across the Globe, Urban Sprawl Is Spreading

Satellite images dating back to 1975 allow researchers to map how millions of cul-de-sacs and dead-ends have proliferated in street networks worldwide.