Design

Before Paris’s Modern-Day Studios, There Were Chambres de Bonne

Tiny upper-floor “maids’ rooms” have helped drive down local assumptions about exactly how small a livable home can be.

photo: Developer James Rouse visiting Harborplace in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

What Happened to Baltimore’s Harborplace?

The pioneering festival marketplace was among the most trendsetting urban attractions of the last 40 years. Now it’s looking for a new place in a changed city.

Why Amsterdam’s Canal Houses Have Endured for 300 Years

A different kind of wealth distribution in 17th-century Amsterdam paved the way for its quintessential home design.

a detail from Andrew's Cuomo's 2020 State of the State goals

The Squid and the Governor

Design experts sound off about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s unusual, cephalopod-filled graphic design sensibility.

How Berlin's Mietskaserne Tenements Became Coveted Urban Housing

Why do mid-rise tenements dominate Berlin? The Mietskaserne, or “rental barracks,” have shaped the city’s culture and its counterculture.

What’s Behind the Iconic Floor Plan of London

The most common residential floor plans in European cities offer a window into urban history and culture. In London, it’s the “two-up, two-down” row house.

photo: The Maryland Science Center in Baltimore

In the 1980s, Every City Needed a Science Center

Civic boosters were once convinced that planetariums and Tesla coils could revive American downtowns.

photo: a couple in a Christmas market.

Why Do Christmas Movies Hate Cities So Much?

The typical plots of holiday rom-coms involve women finding love in a make-believe small town—and getting out of the cruel big city.

Why Some Hawaiians Are Fighting a Massive Flood-Control Project

A flood could devastate the tourist zone of Waikīkī in Honolulu, but a federal plan to fortify the Ala Wai Canal has met with strong local resistance.

Bjarke Ingels Group and WXY Reimagine Downtown Brooklyn

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership wants to make bold streetscape improvements akin to the recent redesign of 14th Street in Manhattan.

New York City Unveils a Next-Generation Trash Can

The winner of the BetterBin design competition is easier for sanitation workers to lift and deters bulk trash-dumpers. It could replace the ubiquitous green litter basket.

The Maps That Made You, Dear Readers

From CityLab’s mailbag: Here are the personal stories about how maps shaped your lives.

photo: Boulder second-graders pose with an in-progress draft of the Growing Up Boulder map.

A City Map Made for (And by) Kids

Growing Up Boulder created the nation’s first printed kid-friendly city map, designed to help parents and children find their way in the Colorado city.

New York City Will Require Bird-Friendly Glass on Buildings

Hundreds of thousands of migratory birds smash into the city’s buildings every year. The city council just passed a bill to cut back on the carnage.

a map of future climate risks in the U.S.

America After Climate Change, Mapped

With “The 2100 Project: An Atlas for A Green New Deal,” the McHarg Center tries to visualize how the warming world will reshape the United States.

photo: a commuter looks at a small map of the London Tube in 2009

Help! The London Tube Map Is Out of Control.

It’s never been easy to design a map of the city’s underground transit network. But soon, critics say, legibility concerns will demand a new look.

A photo-illustration of a county map of the U.S.

I Used This Map to Find a Happy Childhood

I was haunted by painful memories of growing up. But when I started tracking every county I’d ever visited, I found a better way of seeing my past.

The National Public Housing Museum Eyes a 2021 Opening

The museum will tell the history of American public housing in a remnant of a 1930s public housing complex on Chicago’s Near West Side.

photo: Elon Musk and a Tesla Cybertruck

Bring on the Apocalypse: Cybertruck Is Ready

Tesla's Elon Musk shatters expectations (and glass) with a bulletproof electric pickup that looks like it expects you to shoot at it. Maybe you will.

photo: Chris Burden's "Urban Light," installed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, features several of L.A.'s historic streetlight styles.

The Future of the Streetlight Might Be in the Past

A new competition from the L.A. mayor’s office invites designers to reimagine the rich history of civic illumination and create next-generation streetlights.

MapLab: Killer Apps

A biweekly tour of the ever-expanding cartographic landscape.