Also: A presidential candidate wants to save malls, and Frank Lloyd Wright buildings get World Heritage status.

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What We’re Following

Mod squad: Can a factory produce a cheaper apartment? Modular building has long been seen as a way to disrupt the construction industry, and in Chicago, one builder is making a serious play to bring it to fruition. The company, Skender, is fine-tuning its operations in a 100,000-square-foot factory that can produce a quintessential Chicago three-flat apartment building in 90 days, compared to nine months via traditional construction. The grand vision is for an assembly line that saves time and brings down costs, too.

A factory worker fitting together the frame of a unit. (Courtesy of Skender)

Construction costs aren’t the only barrier to affordable housing, but the company thinks the factors it can address are worth trying. Today on CityLab, contributor Zach Mortice goes inside the apartment factory that hopes to make homes affordable.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Vote for Me and I’ll Save Your Dying Mall

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang wants to fight suburban blight by repurposing dying retail centers.

Kriston Capps

Portugal Passes ‘Right to Housing’ Law As Prices Surge

The new law seeks to curb runaway gentrification in Lisbon and elsewhere by prioritizing affordable housing and stopping evictions, among other measures.

Peter Yeung

UNESCO Adds Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings to World Heritage List

Eight Wright buildings, located around the country, are the first American works of modern architecture that UNESCO deems “of outstanding universal value.”

Benjamin Schneider

When ‘Big Plans’ Could Change the World

A new exhibition looks back at the period of grand urban design and social reform in New York City, Boston, and Chicago.

Ezra Haber Glenn

Americans Shouldn’t Have to Drive, but the Law Insists on It

The automobile took over because the legal system helped squeeze out the alternatives.

Gregory H. Shill



What We’re Reading

Kamala Harris has a $100 billion plan to close the black homeownership gap (Curbed)

These satellite images show cities built from scratch across Asia and Africa (The Guardian)

Amtrak has lost money for decades. A former airline CEO thinks he can fix it. (Wall Street Journal)

How concrete and steel built baseball (Deadspin)

The Chicago Defender, legendary black newspaper, prints its last copy (New York Times)


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