Mark Byrnes is a former senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
Also: The history of New York City’s playgrounds, and can there be a “Fairbnb?”
What We’re Following
No stone unturned: I. M. Pei died Thursday at the age of 102 after a long career as an architect of great renown. Most known for his glass pyramid addition to the Louvre Museum in Paris, the China-born, U.S.-trained architect took on commissions that helped reshape cities around the world through the second half of the 20th century.
Since the 1960s, he helped define the ambitions of American cities through various cultural, academic, and civic commissions on high-profile sites including the JFK Library (Boston), the East Building of the National Gallery of Art (D.C.), Everson Museum (Syracuse), and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland). Although mostly earning praise over the years, Pei’s firm was nearly ruined in the 1970s by the fallout from faulty glass panels used for the facade of the Hancock Tower in Boston. And then there was the Pei Plan for Oklahoma City, adopted in 1965, which demolished various treasured buildings and nearly 40 percent of downtown for a new “City of Tomorrow” that was hardly realized before local resentment pushed officials to move on and make a new plan in the ’90s.
Pei’s career was long and impressive. The work of his firm and the civic ambitions that fueled it are inescapable. Stay tuned to CityLab over the next few days as we publish stories about his designs and his legacy.
More on CityLab
Concrete Jungle Gym
New York City’s public playgrounds are so ubiquitous they’re almost invisible. With over 2,000 spread out across five boroughs, tens of thousands of kids play in them every day. But just over a century ago, they didn’t exist. As the city industrialized and urbanized, children played in streets, alleys, and vacant lots. In the late 19th century, though, social reformers began to fear for kids’ health and safety. They organized play spaces in tenements, lobbied local government for parks and facilities—and then the playground movement was born.
On CityLab, visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger takes a look at the many playgrounds of New York City and finds a long history of inequity and creativity. Read her story: An Illustrated History of New York City’s Playgrounds
What We’re Reading
Trump administration wants to cut funding for public housing repairs (NPR)
Uber Eats is facing a price war, just like Uber (Vox)
The tenants’ rights movement is expanding beyond big cities (New Republic)
How glass skyscrapers took over the world, and why we need to stop building them (Fast Company)
The history of purpose-built apartments for women (Spacing Toronto)