Metropolis Magazine - Metropolis Magazine January 2010

 

What’s Next: Urban Planning

The 21st-century city faces a host of daunting challenges: projected scarcities of water and energy, rising sea levels, and, ultimately, more people. But the seeds of fairly radical change have already been planted. “I’m convinced we’re in the midst of a transformation that is probably as profound as what happened immediately after the Second World War, when we got all…

Teatime

Dries Verbruggen has long been fascinated with an object that doesn’t actually exist: the Utah teapot. Designed in 1975 by Martin Newell, a computer scientist at the University of Utah, the digital vessel was the first complex 3-D computer model. It has since become a standard computer-graphic reference, and animators often use it as an inside joke. (It popped up…

What’s Next: Lighting

For many of us, lighting is just a matter of wattage and bulb type. Maybe we’ve grappled with the question of whether an inefficient incandescent or a CFL, with its trace mercury content, is the lesser of two evils. But Dr. Mariana Figueiro, the program director of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, thinks the way we design…

What’s Next: Workplace

Baby boomers are marching into their sixties and seventies; and soon—faster than you can say “Fiber One”—we’ll have the oldest workforce in the history of work. What does that mean for workplace design? “Companies will want older people because they’ve got knowledge and experience, so there is going to be a big emphasis on creating the right settings for them,”…

What’s Next: Transportation

In the last 50 years, U.S. transportation policy has been overwhelmingly focused on highway construction. Funding was so automobile-centric that it wasn’t until the 1990s—when Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan established a new “80/20” spending formula—that mass transit was seriously included in appropriations bills. Congress is currently working on a new appropriations bill that will have crucial implications on that spending….

What’s Next: Health Care

Health-care design, once the province of sterile, faintly inhumane patient wards, is finally developing a bedside manner. Thanks to a field known as evidence-based design, we now know that how a hospital looks and feels plays a big role in how well it treats patients. That research, which details the environmental particulars of recovery down to the best floor pattern…

What’s Next: Public Health

America is getting fat fast. Between 1980 and 2004, obesity doubled among adults. As a nation, we now spend as much as $147 billion annually on associated health-care costs. The epidemic has obvious implications for the built environment: manufacturers are now producing chairs that can support 750 pounds, while the public-health community has issued a cry for a corrective: walkable…

What’s Next: Retail

Shopping as we know it is dead. Unsightly malls and big-box inefficiencies are giving way to a more sophisticated kind of retail as families and retirees increasingly trade the suburbs for city life, and digital tools seamlessly insinuate themselves into our daily rituals. “The world of retail is going to change more in the next ten years than it has…

What’s Next: Materials

Tomorrow’s materials will be cleaner and greener than today’s: long-lasting biopolymers, LEDs in unexpected places, and products that give new meaning to the adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Andrew Dent, vice president of library and materials research for Material ConneXion, has the details. ONE year: DURABLE BIOPOLYMERS “Newly developed biopolymers that tout compostability have had a…

What’s Next: Landscape Architecture

As climate change threatens to reshape our world, landscape architecture seems poised to play a leading role in creating an environmentally sound and effective response. We’ve asked a landscape designer, a landscape architect, and a Dutch civil engineer to discuss strategies for the future. All are in broad agreement that lasting and sustainable solutions should circle back to the land….

What’s Next: Infrastructure

The nation’s infrastructure faces a grim future. Last year, the American Society of Civil Engineers looked at bridges, roadways, drinking-water systems, and other civic works and graded them a cumulative D. Getting to a B, ASCE estimated, will cost $2.2 trillion over the next five years. (President Obama’s less than $100 billion stimulus was a mere down payment.) So while…

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