Construction Cinema

December 16, 2009
Once bare-bones and utilitarian, architectural animation is becoming more nuanced and experiential. In part, this development can be credited to advances in 3-D technology, but at the same time architects have embraced the art of filmmaking -- not only to create more interactive presentations for clients, but also to leverage as a tool in the design process.

It’s easy to think of architecture as an interdisciplinary field. At its most basic level, art and science combine to create buildings that are both beautiful and functional. In much the same way, architects are now relying on a broad spectrum of professional fields for sharing their work. From film to video games to documentary photography, architects are stretching beyond their own circles to present and explain their projects in new and even entertaining ways.

Lessons Learned

July 27, 2015
After a disastrous technology rollout in Los Angeles, schools reassess their priorities.

In schools across the United States, chalk and textbooks are disappearing. In their place are tablets and laptops. This technological transformation is only just beginning, but it stands to reshape the ways teachers teach and students learn. In 2015, school systems will spend an estimated $522 million on tablets and readers, and $4.7 billion on IT overall. “Districts are trying to be very, very thoughtful about how they do this,” says Scott Himelstein, executive director of the University of San Diego’s Institute for Entrepreneurship in Education.

Farm Technology Catches Investor Attention

May 26, 2015
A shift toward software and data analysis has made agriculture a more appealing sector for investors, says leading venture capitalist Brook Porter.

Silicon Valley has not generated much farming innovation, but that’s changing, and venture capitalists have taken notice. Among them: Brook Porter, a partner in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. KPCB’s $1 billion Green Growth Fund has invested in an Israeli company called Kaiima, which is improving breeding programs without genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and a company called Farmer’s Edge, which uses satellite imagery to develop customized farming prescriptions. The firm has yet to cash out of any of its ag-tech investments, which are typically in the $15 million to $25 million range.

The Sidewalk of the Future Is Not So Concrete

May 22, 2014
Cities are experimenting with different materials — from heated panels to flexible rubber — but the best replacement has yet to emerge.

Concrete has long been the go-to material for sidewalks because it's strong and cheap. The typical stretch of walkway can last decades; New Jersey sidewalks have an estimated lifespan of 75 years. But concrete has its drawbacks, too, especially for cities intent on improving walkability. Tree roots can crack concrete, creating hazards for pedestrians (especially wheelchair users and parents pushing strollers), and the more a tree grows the more its surrounding sidewalk swells.

Tech and the City

August 1, 2011
Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne aims to make New York the “world’s top-ranked digital city” but she and her counterparts across the U.S. are still trying to figure out what that means.

No matter where you live, from Los Angeles to Boston, you can walk into a public meeting, sign your name on a piece of paper, and be given the opportunity to stand at a podium in front of your elected officials or civil servants and speak your mind for two or three minutes. This is called a public comment, and it’s allowed at pretty much any public meeting in any city in America. It’s the kind of open government that the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the Declaration of Independence. It’s also totally old school.

Watching Urban Change Via Satellite

January 18, 2010
Recent earthquake response efforts in Haiti showed how comparing satellite imagery could help to identify physical changes in the damaged country and assist rescue workers. That same sort of imagery could play a similar role for urban planners.

January 11: buildings and roads. January 12: rubble.

The massive earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti last week toppled buildings and littered the capital city of Port-au-Prince with the crumbled concrete and shattered glass of a broken metropolis. The images beamed across the Internet show the grisly result of the devastating earthquake.

But then, a different kind of image popped up. Google Maps released a series of satellite images of different parts of the city, showing in the same scale Haiti's urban landscape shortly before and immediately after the earthquake.

Now In 3D

August 31, 2009
Could portable, easy-to-print holograms be the next big thing in design visualization?

“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” That was the call of desperation from an imprisoned Princess Leia in the original Star Wars movie. She was just 12 inches tall at the time, and she wasn’t even really there—she was a hologram. In the real world, holograms haven’t quite yet reached that level, but they’re getting close...

Watch the video.

The Black Cloud: Using Games to Understand Air Quality

September 4, 2008
Human behavior and land use affect air quality, and those effects are very distinct at the local level. A new environmental game fusing public participation, air quality sensors and web technology shows how.

Cities are polluted places, and everyone knows it. Beijing is just coming out of a month-long media barrage on the city's poor air quality. Los Angeles, the original City of Smog, has been hearing it for decades. And though the existence of pollution is well known, it's not so well understood.