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This week’s city reading: This Year’s Best Design Cities, When Airbnb Overtakes Your Building, the Lonely Los Angeles of “Heat”

The World’s Best Design Cities 2017 (Metropolis) “The crowds coursing down Via Tortona or gathering outside Bar Basso for one week in April are no more than a memory when the city is deserted in August. For years, it was also a city of extreme traditionalism: The Salone del Mobile’s gravitational pull on innovative international designers seemed to have little enduring influence on the native design culture. The Triennale hardly helped matters, producing devotional homages to the maestri of midcentury design rather than celebrating new talents. Today, however, Milan is slowly being catalyzed as a design city through interdisciplinarity, a powerful force that was suppressed here and elsewhere through the professionalization of the industry.”

Montrealer sole resident of condo building after other units rented on Airbnb (Andrea Bellemare, CBC News) “Chapman was a former Airbnb host himself, but decided to stop listing his home after his girlfriend moved in.” As someone who shared the article put it, “That was my facorite J.G. Ballard novel.”

To Attract Riders, Call Transit ‘Congestion Free’ (Jarrett Walker, Citylab) “In most cities, rail is protected from traffic but buses aren’t, so the average person’s concept of buses includes being stuck in traffic. But being stuck in traffic has nothing to do with whether you’re on rails or tires. Many old streetcar lines (and most new ones in the U.S.) are mixed with car traffic and suffer frequent disruption as a result. Meanwhile, buses can be highly reliable where they are protected from traffic, as in the best Bus Rapid Transit systems. Talking about a ‘congestion-free network’ is an excellent way to get people past this confusion.” See also my interview with Jarrett Walker on Notebook on Cities and Culture.

Goodbye Highways (Nate Berg, Landscape Architecture) “The growing number of freeway-focused projects represent a new era of thinking about all the space we’ve ceded to high-speed transportation. These projects—both under construction and in the planning process—are showing how to reimagine parts of the urban environment that are too easily ignored. These largely infrastructural spaces can serve more than one purpose. With some creativity and a bit of risk taking, cities can recast their freeway landscapes to play a bigger role in meeting their needs.”

Someone Wants to Build a Vertical Forest in Toronto (Amy Grief, BlogTO) “‘We thought that it’s ironic that a country like Canada blessed with so much wood resources hasn’t put in a lot more effort into that kind of direction,’ says Stein, regarding building with wood.”

The Loneliness Of Los Angeles In Michael Mann’s ‘Heat’ (Carman Tse, LAist) “He sets the noir tone off the bat with an opening shot of McCauley’s arrival at Metro’s Redondo Beach Green Line station, aided by a conveniently-placed steam pipe and Elliot Goldenthal’s ambient score. For the rest of the film, McCauley is linked to L.A.’s transitory spaces and movement. He’s a man without a sense of space or home (recall the aforementioned unfurnished Malibu pad). Even the armored truck heist that is Heat‘s inciting incident takes place underneath the interchange of the 10 and 110 freeways—a space ignored by the thousands of commuters that travel right over it every single day.”