Also: Why New York City is reporting sustainability progress to the UN, and imagining a “Canadian Anti-Tourist League.”

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What We’re Following

People watching, plus: Carlo Ratti is an architect, engineer, and inventor. He’s also a kind of philosopher of the smart city. As director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab, Ratti’s team deploys digital sensors, artificial intelligence, and other wifi-connected inventions in cities. But his work differs from “smart city” dogma in a key way: It isn’t about directly addressing problems with technology as a “solution.” Instead, it’s about observing people’s interactions with urban spaces.

Thus the lab’s proposals have a more playful philosophy: Make tweaks and let them ripple. CityLab’s Laura Bliss visited the Cambridge, Massachusetts, lab to check out its latest projects. Read her story: The Sensory City Philosopher

Speaking of play… If you’re a parent raising small children in a city, take our survey to help inform coverage for our new series, “Room to Grow.”

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Why New York City Is Reporting Its Sustainability Progress to the UN

So far, it’s the only city in the world to publish a review of its progress toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Nicole Javorsky

What Cities Do Right to Integrate Immigrants, in 4 Charts

A sociologist interviewed hundreds of immigrants in New York, Barcelona, and Paris. Here's what he says those cities get right—and do wrong—when integrating foreign-born residents.

Ernesto Castañeda

Grenfell’s Problem Wasn’t Just Lax Regulation

After the tragic, deadly fire in London, there have been calls for increased regulation and inspection, but that alone will drive up rents for the most vulnerable. Cities need a radical change in the way they approach housing.

Robin Bartram

Imagining a ‘Canadian Anti-Tourist League’

In a short 1950s comedy, a small group of grumpy natives celebrate awful customer service in the hopes of keeping Americans away.

Mark Byrnes

Launderettes of London

As a new photo project shows, these places aren’t just bright and slightly battered spots to clean clothes—they’re community hubs where people linger and make connections.

Feargus O'Sullivan


Moscow Cool

A photo of Moscow's Fonvizinskaya Station.
Fonvizinskaya Station, designed by Nikolai Shumakov and built in 2016. (Alexey Narodizkiy/Blue Crow Media)

Moscow’s 83-year-old transit system is layered with political and architectural meaning. Different generations have imposed their own visions on the system, from the ornate stations of the Stalin era to more recent utilitarian facilities. Architectural historian Nikolai Vassiliev recently curated an architecture and design map with descriptions and photos of more than 40 of the system’s notable stations. CityLab’s Mark Byrnes asked him a few questions to get behind the design of a Moscow Metro station.


What We’re Reading

Don’t call them parks: the success of New York’s pedestrian plazas (New York Times)

Chicago police release bodycam footage of deadly shooting (NPR)

How Helsinki arrived at the future of urban travel first (Bloomberg)

The urban tragedy of Flint’s poisoned water (Next City)

Wanted: male architect willing to navigate his own building in a skirt. (Los Angeles Times)


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