March 22, 2014  |  permalink

92Y: Youth Think Tank

On March 10, I moderated an event at the 92nd St. Y as part of its “7 Days of Genius” series. The video is above, the description is below:

We often look to geniuses in the past, but what about our youth and the next generation of great thinkers? What innovations do you think will change the world in the next five years? And what inspires today’s students to think big and explore STEM subjects?

Find the answers to these—and other questions—by joining a remarkable conversation with Tanishq Abraham, a 10-year old science prodigy, and Dr. Dario Gil, a cognitive scientist at IBM. Learn as they discuss the importance of STEM and the future of science. From the big bang to Watson, learn about the latest approaches to scientific discovery and how the combination of science knowledge is leading to new discoveries.

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March 22, 2014  |  permalink

How IBM Is Using Watson And An Innovative Workspace To Crunch Big Data For Big Solutions

(Originally published at Fast Co.Exist on March 11, 2014.)

IBM loves Big Data. The bigger it gets, the more servers, storage, and services Big Blue would like to sell you (a lot more, please). But the volumes involved have already grown so big that IBM’s own researchers struggle to get a handle on it.

Last year, for example, IBM fellow Laura Haas asked one of her colleagues at the company’s Almaden research center in Silicon Valley why he wasn’t using bigger data sets. Because, he replied, it takes 80% of my time just to prep the data I have. Haas realized that the more IBM’s research agenda was consumed by analytics, the more time and energy its experts would spend struggling with expanding data sets, slowing down the pace of discovery.

The obvious thing was to hand the volumes in question over to dedicated data scientists, but removing researchers from the loop would only make things worse. Plus, it seemed to cut against the grain of Big Data, whose value isn’t governed by some function of Moore’s Law or Kryder’s Law in terms of the linear expansion of storage capacity or the falling costs of sensors.

Rather, it’s more a function of Metcalfe’s Law, which states that the value of a network is the square of the number of connected devices; the value is in the exponentially increasing connections, not the nodes. The same is true of IBM’s people, too. Instead of sidelining its researchers, how could it bring more eyes—and different ones—to opaque data sets being crunched in the cloud?

The solution, unveiled at Almaden last fall, is the Accelerated Discovery Lab, a large, open space amply equipped with comfy furniture, whiteboards, and lots of screens, not to mention an ever-evolving mix of project teams, systems managers, visiting clients, corporate anthropologists, and drop-ins, not to mention a sliver of Watson IBM’s newest super computer. As the lab’s name implies, the goal is crack the code on the optimal combination of diversity, proximity, physical space, and cloud computing to spot opportunities in the gaps between disciplines faster and more often.

“We call it cultivating ‘strategic serendipity,’” says Haas, who is also the director of technology and operations for the lab. “It’s those ‘A-ha!’ moments you have in the shower or often around the water cooler. We want to bring people together in a rich enough environment they want to play in it, and then create serendipity by leveraging the connections in the room, the connections in the data, and our ability to see what users are doing.”

The lab’s first project was to apply Watson’s natural language-processing ability to new domains, with drug research at the top of the list. Working with computational biologists from the Baylor College of Medicine, IBM’s data scientists began plowing through millions of papers, patents, and clinical studies culled from databases and IBM’s pharma customers, before eventually narrowing their focus to the tumor-suppressing gene TP-53. Sifting through the literature for promising, but overlooked chemicals to treat mutated genes, within a few months the team found four candidates. According to Jeff Welser, the lab’s director of strategy and program development, “historically, you find about one per year.”

That’s pretty fast, but could it have been faster? Part of the lab’s mission is to test hypotheses about the space itself. “We’re trying to instrument our projects from the get-go, recording them from the day they start,” Haas says, benchmarking their progress against similar teams that aren’t in the lab to see whether all those whiteboards and multi-disciplinary teams yield better tangible results.

While there are currently no plans to build similar labs in any of IBM’s other research centers, Haas hopes to someday develop a software tool that might help the company manage its own far-flung resources. Imagine a version of Watson that recognizes who or what it is you’re searching for, then begins suggesting data sets and colleagues working in tangential fields the IBMer might have otherwise never thought of.

For now, however, when it comes to cross-pollination, “there is more than I expected,” she says. “And less than I want.”

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March 10, 2014  |  permalink

Project 100 on “Carl in the Morning”

Last Friday, I appeared on Carl Wolfson’s “Carl in the Morning” live Web radio show out of Portland, Ore. We talked about Project 100, Songdo, the future of cities and much more. I appear around the 55:00 mark.

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March 09, 2014  |  permalink

How Las Vegas (Of All Places) May Be About to Reinvent Car Ownership


(Originally published at Atlantic Cities on March 4, 2014.)

LAS VEGAS—When your boss is Tony Hsieh, it’s not unusual to wind up in a bar for your last meeting of the day. This is the case one January night in downtown Las Vegas, where the CEO of Zappos is investing his personal $350 million fortune in building an entrepreneurial utopia in his company’s image. Maybe the most ambitious piece of his vision is “Project 100,” the code-name for a private car-, ride-, and bike-sharing service combining aspects of Zipcar, Uber, CitiBike, and RideScout scheduled to launch this summer.

While Hsieh holds court at Atomic Liquors, project leader Zach Ware debates with his team at a nearby table whether to keep a short-range electric car in its lineup, or switch to the larger (and more expensive) Mercedes-Benz Smart car. At stake is the project’s vision: Will it be an amenity for downtown residents and Zappos employees, or should it aim to replace the car of any commuter in the entire 500-square-mile Las Vegas Valley?

In either case, Ware argues for the short-range electric — a light vehicle for zipping around a mile or so downtown — and when his colleagues counter that bike-sharing is better for those distances, he explodes. “I’m never going to fucking ride a bike!” he yells, more in emphasis than anger. After more fruitless back and forth, Ware stalks off to yet another meeting, demanding they reach a decision in his absence.

“Who are we?” asks Josh Westerhold, the company’s head of business operations, over another round of drinks. “Are we a company that changes how people move, or a company that changes how car-ownership works? We may be trying to solve two different things.”

» Continue reading...

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February 18, 2014  |  permalink

Video: Ronkonkoma Parks and Rides

Roger Sherman and Greg Lindsay present the Parks & Rides design from Long Island Index on Vimeo.

As noted previously, I had the pleasure of both working and presenting with Roger Sherman on his “Ronkonkoma Parks and Rides” concept for the Build a Better ‘Burb: Parking Plus competition. Video of our join presentation at Adelphi University last month is above (I don’t make an appearance until the 12:30 mark).

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February 02, 2014  |  permalink

WPJ Political Salon: “When Computers Take Over The City”

Last week, the World Policy Institute and I hosted my NYU Rudin colleague Anthony Townsend to speak about his book “Smart Cities.” The ensuing conversation touched on the history and present understanding of smart cities, as well as Townsend’s “civic principles” checklist for successful metropolitan areas. The video of our conversation is embedded above.

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January 19, 2014  |  permalink

Build a Better ‘Burb: “Ronkonkoma Parks and Rides”


When my friend and colleague Roger Sherman asked me to join his team for the second “Build a Better ‘Burb” competition, subtitled “Parking Plus,” I didn’t know it would entail writing an entire newspaper set in 2031. And yet that’s exactly what I did for our entry, “Ronkonkoma Parks and Rides,” which imagines a parking lot twice the size of the Empire State Building’s footprint if you laid it on its side… which we did. Roger’s design for a combination parking garage/shopping mall/public space/theme park was hailed as the most visionary of the four proposals unveiled at Adelphi University on Jan. 16. For the story behind it, please check out the newspaper I wrote, “The Daily Hub.”

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January 01, 2014  |  permalink

The Endless Tour

Below is the current list of past and future appearances, always bound to change. If you’re interested in helping to arrange a speaking appearance, please send me an email.

May 4-5, 2015. Miami, FL.
eMerge Americas.

February 12, 2015. Orlando, FL.
Association of Energy Services Professionals.

December 11, 2014. Minneapolis, MN.
Made in Minnesota: Celebrating university innovators.

December 9, 2014. New York, NY.
Van Alen Institute.

December 3, 2014. New York, NY.
NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management.

December 2, 2014. Cambridge, MA.
Harvard Graduate School of Design.

November 19-21, 2014. Santa Fe, NM.
Santa Fe Institute.

November 11, 2014. London, United Kingdom.
Grimshaw Architects.

November 11, 2014. London, United Kingdom.

November 10, 2014. London, United Kingdom.
Airport Operators Association.

October 23, 2014. New York, NY.
Jane Jacobs Forum.

October 22, 2014. Brooklyn, NY.
Makeshift Society.

October 10, 2014. Ottawa, ON.
Canada Council for the Arts.

October 9, 2014. Baltimore, MD.
Element Vehicle Management Services.

September 28-30, 2014. Los Angeles, CA.

September 22-23, 2014. Toronto, ON.

September 16, 2014. Detroit, MI.
Techonomy Detroit.

July 28, 2014. Los Angeles, CA.
Global Business Travel Association.

July 14, 2014. New York, NY.
Center for Architecture.

June 27-30, 2014. Aspen, CO.
Aspen Ideas Festival.

June 23-25, 2014. Denver, CO.
Clinton Global Initiative America.

June 20, 2014. Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions.

June 19, 2014. Dallas, TX.
The Purpose City.

June 18, 2014. Mississauga, ON.
Element Fleet Management.

June 17, 2014. Dallas, TX.
New Cities Summit.

June 16, 2014. Dallas, TX.
Ericsson & UN Habitat.

June 10, 2014. Chicago, IL.

June 4, 2014. Venice, Italy.
STREAM Lectures at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

June 2, 2014. Montreal, QC.
Canadian Automobile Association.

May 21, 2014. New York, NY.
Internet Week New York.

May 20, 2014. Seattle, WA.

May 20, 2014. Seattle, WA.

May 16, 2014. Angeles City, Philippines.
Clark Aviation Conference 2014.

May 13, 2014. Manila, Philippines.
The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

May 8, 2014. Sao Paulo, Brazil.

April 25, 2014. Chicago, IL.
American Society of Landscape Architects.

April 22, 2014. New York, NY.
The New York Times’ Cities for Tomorrow

April 11, 2014. New York, NY.
Mobilities in Cities: From Visible to Invisible.

April 9, 2014. Toronto, ON.
Smart Cities Canada.

April 1, 2014. New York, NY.
Extrastatecraft: A Salon with Keller Easterling.

March 22, 2014. New Orleans, LA.
Sun Life Financial.

March 10, 2014. New York, NY.
Youth Think Tank: The Next Big Ideas from the Next Generation,” 92nd St. Y.

March 6, 2014. Mountain View, CA.
Cities on the Move.

February 27, 2014. New York, NY.
Smart Law for Smart Cities.

February 14, 2013. Los Angeles, CA.

January 30, 2014. New York, NY.
When Computers Take Over The City,” World Policy Institute.

January 16, 2014. Garden City, NY.
Build a Better Burb: ParkingPLUS Design Challenge.

January 14, 2014. Calgary, AB.
City of Calgary.

December 10, 2013. Washington, DC.
Atlantic Council 2013 Strategic Foresight Forum.

November 25-26, 2013. King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia.

November 20, 2013. London, United Kingdom.
WorkTech13 London.

November 18-19, 2013. Miami, FL.
NEST Forum.

November 3, 2013. Baltimore, MD.
Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit.

November 1, 2013. New York, NY.
Building the Digital City.

October 22, 2013. Las Vegas, NV.
CoreNet Global Summit.

October 12, 2013. New York, NY.
NYU Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference.

October 3, 2013. Buenos Aires, Argentina.
WorkTech13 Buenos Aires.

September 27, 2013. Reno, NV.
Design Matters 2013.

September 26, 2013. Sydney, Australia.
CoreNet Sydney Symposium.

September 23, 2013. Niagara Falls, ON.

September 19, 2013. Atlanta, GA.
Global Workspace Association.

September 17, 2013. Bolingbrook, IL.
Will County Center for Economic Development.

August 20, 2013. New York, NY.
Tech Tuesdays at the Seaport: Five Ideas To Change The City.

July 18, 2013. New York, NY.
World Policy Institute Political Salon.

July 11, 2013. New York, NY.
IIDA Facilities Forum.

June 28, 2013. Los Angeles, CA.
Extreme IDEAS: Runway.

June 21, 2013. Prague, Czech Republic.
reSITE 2013.

June 20, 2013. Istanbul, Turkey.
Urban Land Institute.

June 19, 2013. London, United Kingdom.
Urban Land Institute Europe Trends Conference.

June 18, 2013. Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Urban Land Institute.

June 11, 2013. Los Angeles, CA.
UCLA cityLab

June 4-5, 2013. Sao Paulo, Brazil.
New Cities Summit

May 22, 2013. Los Angeles, CA.
Extreme IDEAS: Architecture at the Intersection.

May 16, 2013. New York, NY.
WorkTech13 New York.

May 15, 2013. Atlanta, GA.
Brownfields 2013.

May 13, 2013. New York, NY.
“Which Cities Will Survive the 21st Century?” New America Foundation.

May 7, 2013. Rapid City, SD.
Rapid City Chamber of Commerce.

May 2, 2013. New York, NY.
World Policy Institute: Around the Table.

April 22-23, 2013. New York, NY.
Assocation of Corporate Travel Executives.

April 17-19, 2013. Tempe, AZ.
“Urbanization, Sustainability, Resilience, and Prosperity” Workshop, Arizona State University.

April 1, 2013. New York, NY.
New York University.

March 20, 2013. Ontario, CA.
State of the City 2013.

March 11, 2013. Boston, MA.
Major OEM urban mobility event.

February 21, 2013. Angeles City, Philippines.
Clark Aviation Conference.

February 20, 2013. Manila, Philippines.
The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

December 6, 2012. London, United Kingdom.
London School of Economics: Urban Age.

November 20, 2012. Princeton, NJ.
Princeton University School of Architecture.

November 15, 2012. Barcelona, Spain.
Smart City Expo World Congress 2012.

November 7, 2012. Menlo Park, CA.
The Institute for the Future 2012 Technology Horizons Conference.

November 1, 2012. Boston, MA.
The Boston Society of Architects.

October 13, 2012. Brooklyn, NY.

October 12, 2012. New York, NY.
Columbia University: The Global Street.

September 25, 2012. New York, NY.
Columbia University GSAPP.

September 19, 2012. Moncton, NB.
The 2012 Air Cargo Logistics Symposium.

September 2, 2012. Salzburg, Austria.

July 26, 2012. Los Angeles, CA.
CoreNet Los Angeles.

June 4, 2012. New York, NY.
Cornell University.

May 21, 2012. Haifa, Israel.
Intel Labs Future of Work 2012 Summit

May 16, 2012. Louisville, KY
Kentucky CCIM

May 15, 2012. Kansas City, MO.

May 11, 2012. New York, NY.
Fordham University Smart City Symposium. Open to all. RSVP required.

May 3, 2012. New York, NY.
World Policy Institute 50th Anniversary and Celebration.

May 1, 2012. Seattle, WA.
Commercial Brokers Association.

April 27, 2012. New York, NY.
New York University.

April 23, 2012. New York, NY.
World Policy Institute & Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. “The Future of the City.” 6:30 PM.

April 19, 2012. New York, NY.
Studio-X X-Cities 4, featuring Living PlanIT and Songdo IBD. Free and open to all.

April 18, 2012. St. Petersburg, FL.
American Real Estate Society.

April 10, 2012. New York, NY.
Studio-X X-Cities 3, featuring IBM’s Guru Banavar. Free and open to all.

April 5, 2012. Hillsboro, OR.
Intel Labs 2012 Trendspotting Summit.

March 29, 2012. Albuquerque, NM.
Albuquerque Downtown Action Team.

March 28, 2012. Albuquerque, NM.
Bookworks. Discussion and signing. Free and open to the public.

March 20, 2012. New York, NY.
Studio-X X-Cities 2. Free and open to all.

March 14, 2012. New York, NY.
School of the Visual Arts.

March 12, 2012. Muscat, Oman.
The Sindbad Lecture.

March 11, 2012. Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Middle East Facilities Management Association.

March 9, 2012. Providence, RI.
Brown University Urban Affairs conference.

February 21, 2012. New York, NY.
Studio-X X-Cities series. Free and open to all.

February 15, 2012. Washington, DC.
Research In Motion.

February 14, 2012. New York, NY.
Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream. Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

January 24, 2012. Seattle, WA.

November 14, 2011. New York, NY.
World Policy Institute Political Salon.

November 10, 2011. New York, NY.
L2 Innovation Forum.

November 7, 2011. Montreal, QC.
The Association of Corporate Travel Executives.

October 31-November 1, 2011. London, United Kingdom.
The Airport Operators Association.

October 20, 2011. New York, NY.
Asia Society New York. Registration required. Open to all.

October 14, 2011. Phoenix, AZ.
CCIM Live.

October 13, 2011. Ottawa, ON.
Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

October 5, 2011. New York, NY
Columbia University, Committee for Global Thought.

October 4, 2011. Destin, FL.
Gulf Power Economic Symposium.

September 27, Washington D.C.
The National Building Museum. 6:30 PM. Reading and discussion. Admission required; open to all.

September 20, 2011. New York, NY
Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

September 18, 2011. Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Book Festival. 4 PM at Brooklyn Historical Society Library. Free and open to all.

September 17, 2011. Queens, NY.
“Foreclosed” Open Studios. 12-6 PM at MoMA PS1. Open to the public.

September 15, 2011. Champaign, IL.
TEDxUIllinois. Free; visit the site to request an invitation.

September 3-4, 2011. Decatur, GA.
The AJC Decatur Book Festival. Open to the public.

August 29-30, 2011. Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Medical Travel Meeting Brazil.

June 29-30, 2011. Chicago, IL
The Clinton Global Initiative: CGI America.

June 18, 2011. Queens, NY.
“Foreclosed” workshop presentations. 2 PM at MoMA PS1. Open to the public.

June 7, 2011. New York, NY.
The New York Public Library. 6:30 PM. Discussion and signing. Free and open to all.

June 6, 2011. Washington D.C.
Intelligent Cities Forum.

May 23, 2011. Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
DIFC Economics Workshop.

May 11, 2011. Denver, CO.
Metro Denver Aviation Coalition.

May 10, 2011. Denver, CO.
Tattered Cover Book Store. 7 PM. Reading and discussion. Free and open to all.

May 7, 2011. New York, NY.
Pecha Kucha #11, “The Dimensions of a New City.” 11:29 PM at the Old School Gym, 268 Mulberry Street.

May 7, 2011. Queens, NY.
“Foreclosed” preliminary presentations. 2 PM at MoMA PS1. Open to the public.

May 2, 2011. Chicago, IL.
CoreNet Global Summit.

April 28, 2011. New York, NY.
The Frequent Traveler Awards.

April 20, 2011. New York, NY.
Talking Books with the Architectural League of New York. McNally Jackson Bookstore, 7 PM. Free and open to all.

April 14, 2011. Brooklyn, NY.
The Futurist and Kite Flying Society of Galapagos Art Space. 7 PM. Registration required. Open to all.

April 13, 2011. Memphis, TN.
FedEx Corporation.

April 12-13, 2011. Memphis, TN.
Airport Cities 2011.

April 11, 2011. Memphis, TN.
Davis-Kidd Booksellers. 6 PM. Free and open to all.

April 8, 2011. New York, NY.
PSFK New York.

April 5, 2011. Los Angeles, CA.
Architecture and Design Museum.

April 4, 2011. San Francisco, CA.
World Affairs Council of Northern California.

April 1, 2011. Berkeley, CA.
University of California Architecture Research Colloquium.

March 31, 2011. Portland, OR.
Powell’s City of Books.

March 30, 2011. Seattle, WA.
Town Hall Seattle.

March 29, 2011. Irving, TX.
The World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth and The Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce.

March 24, 2011. Kankakee, IL.
The Kankakee Public Library.

March 23, 2011. Chicago, IL.
The Book Cellar.

March 22, 2011. Chicago, IL.
The Chicago Council of Global Affairs.

March 21, 2011. Cambridge, MA.
Harvard Bookstore.

March 20, 2011. New York NY.
The Left Forum.

March 16, 2011. Atlanta, GA.
Atlantic Station.

March 11, 2011. Louisville, KY.
Greater Louisville Inc.

February 23-24, 2011. San Francisco, CA.
Global Green Cities of the 21st Century.

October 18, 2010. Shanghai, China.
2010 China Innovation Forum.

October 1, 2010. New York, NY.
“Cities and Eco-Crises,” Columbia University.

August 25-28, 2010. Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Medical Travel Meeting Brazil.

August 2, 2010. San Carlos, CA.
Singularity University.

June 9-10, 2010. Las Vegas, NV.
Realcomm 2010.

April 21-23, 2010. Beijing, China.
Airport Cities 2010.

April 1, 2010. Champaign, IL.

September 15, 2009. Atlanta, GA.

April 28-29, 2009. Taipei, Taiwan.
International Aerotropolis Conference.

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December 20, 2013  |  permalink

“Engineering Serendipity” at WorkTech13 London

I was invited by the organizers of WorkTech to give yet another gloss on my usual schtick at their flagship conference in London, held on November 19-20 at the British Museum. It was my pleasure to give the closing keynote following Frank Duffy, whose work in this area has been an inspiration. Fast-forward to the 36:00 minute mark, where I (who has drifted too far back on stage for the camera to capture my head, evidently) put Duffy on the spot, asking him to comment on my talk. “Absolutely marvelous,” he said. #careerhighlight

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December 11, 2013  |  permalink

The Atlantic Council: Why Cities Will Lead The Way

The Atlantic Council hosted its annual Strategic Foresight Forum, this year titled “Harnessing Disruption,” on December 9-10 at is offices in Washington DC. I was graciously invited to join Columbia’s Saskia Sassen, the Urban Institute’s Tim Campbell, and USAID’s Steven Feldstein to discuss the future of cities in a panel titled, “A New Model of International Governance: Why Cities Will Lead the Way.” It was a lot of fun, as it always is when Saskia’s on your panel. The complete video from the session is above.

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About Greg Lindsay

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Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, and speaker. He is a contributing writer for Fast Company, author of the forthcoming book Engineering Serendipity, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next. He is also a senior fellow of the World Policy Institute — where he is director of the Emergent Cities Project — a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, and a research affiliate of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI).

» More about Greg Lindsay

Articles by Greg Lindsay

New York University  |  October 2014

Sin City vs. SimCity

Harvard Business Review  |  October 2014

Workspaces That Move People

Inc.  |  April 2014

The Network Effect

Atlantic Cities  |  March 2014

How Las Vegas (Of All Places) May Be About to Reinvent Car Ownership

Wired (UK)  |  October 2013

How to Build a Serendipity Engine

Next American City  |  August 2013

IBM’s Department of Education

The New York Times  |  April 2013

Engineering Serendipity

Fast Company  |  March 2013

Swedish Modern Comes To Town

Fast Company  |  March 2013

Working Beyond the Cube

Fast Company  |  December 2012/January 2013

Imagine Air Travel Without Hassle: Surf Air Can

WSJ  |  November 2012

Jeanne Gang

Fast Company  |  June 2012

That’s So Fly

Next American City  |  May 2012

Chartered Territory

The New York Times  |  Feburary 2012

Designing a Fix for Housing

Departures  |  October 2011

Instant Cities

Travel + Leisure  |  October 2011

The Future of Travel

The New York Times  |  September 2011

Not-So-Smart Cities

World Policy Journal  |  Fall 2011

Thus Spake Nano

Advertising Age  |  September 2011

Ad Age Insights: The Evolution of Facebook Brand Fans

Open Skies  |  July 2011

Paradise Lost: The Death and Strange Afterlife of Brasilia

» See all articles


October 24, 2014

Sin City vs. SimCity

October 08, 2014

Cities, Stars, and Serendipity

September 22, 2014

Techonomy Detroit: Hiking, Biking, and Responsive Transit

September 19, 2014

How I Spent My Detroit Vacation

» More blog posts