Streams

124- Longbox

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Reporter Whitney Jones argues that R.E.M.’s Out of Time is the most politically significant album in the history of the United States. Because of its packaging.

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123- Snowflake

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Well before the early 1500s, when Sir Thomas Moore first coined the term "Utopia," people have been thinking about how to design their ideal community. Maybe it's one that doesn't use money, or one that drops traditional family structures and raises ch...

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122- Good Egress

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

When designing a commercial structure, there is one safety component that must be designed right into the building from the start: egress. “Egress” refers to an entire exit system from a building: stairs, corridors,

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121- Cold War Kids

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

During the 1961 Berlin Crisis—one of the various moments in the cold war in which we came frighteningly close to engaging in actual war with the Soviets—President John F. Kennedy vowed to identify spaces in "existing structures both public and priv...

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120- Skyjacking

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The term "hijacking" goes back to prohibition days, when gangsters would rob moonshine trucks saying, "Hold your hands high, Jack!" However, in the early days of commercial air travel, the idea that someone would hijack a plane was scarcely even consid...

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119- Feet of Engineering

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

As a fashion object and symbol, the high heel shoe is weighted with meaning. It’s also weighted with the wearer’s entire body weight. The stiletto might be one of the only designs that is physically painful but has somehow has persisted for centuri...

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118- Song Exploder

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

99% Invisible presents Song Exploder. A song is a product of design. It's difficult to create an original melody, but that's only the blueprint. Every element of a piece of music could be produced any number of ways,

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117- Clean Trains

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

In just about every movie set in New York City in the 1970s and 80s there's an establishing shot with a graffiti-covered subway. For city officials, train graffiti was a sign that they had lost control. So, starting in the early 70s,

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116- Breaking the Bank

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

When I go into a bank, especially if I have to stand in line waiting to make a deposit, my mind wanders. And one of the first place it wanders to is: how I would rob the place. How could it be done? Most of the time, buildings are our friends.

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115- Cow Tunnels

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The westernmost part of Manhattan, between 34th and 39th street, is pretty industrial. There’s a bus depot, a ferry terminal, and a steady stream of cars. But in the late 19th early 20th centuries, this was cow country.

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114- Ten Thousand Years

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In 1990, the federal government invited a group of geologists, linguists, astrophysicists, architects, artists, and writers to the New Mexico desert, to visit the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. They were there on a mission.

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113- Monumental Dilemma

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

About ten miles north of Concord, New Hampshire, off of interstate 93 there’s a little island with a great, big monument on it. The monument depicts a woman, who is holding a hatchet in her right hand and bunch of scalps in her left hand.

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112- Young Ruin

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

If you've wandered around Machu Picchu, or Stonehenge, or the Colosseum, or even snuck into that abandoned house on the edge of town, you know the power in a piece of decrepit architecture. And even if you don't want to leave your house,

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111- Masters of the Uni-verse

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Uniforms matter. When it comes to sports, they might be the only thing to which we're actually loyal. Sports uniforms are packaging. But unlike any other packaging, if the product inside changes or degrades, we remain loyal. Players come and go,

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110- Structural Integrity

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

When it was built in 1977, Citicorp Center (later renamed Citigroup Center, now called 601 Lexington) was, at 59 stories, the seventh-tallest building in the world. You can pick it out of the New York City skyline by its 45-degree angled top.

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109- Title TK

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The name is important. It’s the first thing of any product you use or buy or see. The tip of the spear. You are bombarded by thousands of names every day. In this daily barrage, only the names that are most interesting and most pleasant on the tongu...

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108- Barcodes

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

When George Laurer goes to the grocery store, he doesn't tell the check-out people that he invented the barcode, but his wife used to point it out. "My husband here's the one who invented that barcode," she'd occasionally say.

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107- Call Now

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When it's three o'clock in the morning and everything is going wrong in your life, there's a certain kind of ad you might see on basic cable. Lawyers–usually guys–promise to battle the heartless, tight-wad insurance companies on your behalf.

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106- The Fancy Shape

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Quatrefoil is the name of the four-lobed cloverleaf shape. It's everywhere: adorning Gothic cathedrals, more modern churches, Rhode Island mansions, mission-style roofs in California, and decorating victorian homes from coast to coast.

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105- One Man is An Island

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A few years ago, reporter Sean Cole was working on a radio story and needed to interview the rapper Busta Rhymes. Sean was living in Boston at the time, so he did a Google search for “Busta Rhymes” and “Boston” to see if Busta had any upcomi...

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