The Best New Yorker Articles on Buildings, Cities, and Landscapes (and a Few from Places Journal)

Last week The New Yorker, celebrating its redesign, opened the doors to part of its archive and let the internet walk in for free. That's good timing for Places readers; as you may have noticed, we're on a brief hiatus. Below, we've rounded up some New Yorker articles you can read while their paywall is down.

That should tide you over until September, when Places will return to publishing new work. After five valuable years in partnership with Design Observer, we're deepening our commitment to public scholarship and critical journalism by launching a new, independent website at

Here at Places we have ambitions to be The New Yorker of the built environment. The journal where you find rigorous, accessible writing on architecture, landscape, and urbanism that stands the test of time.

So we hope you'll delve into our archive, too. The old site is live while we remodel. Start with Kristi Dykema's “Scale of Nature,” on the Mississippi River Basin Model (an essay which The New Yorker's own John McPhee called 'absorbing'). Read Jerry Herron on Detroit, Daniel Brook on Shanghai, Richard Powers on Berlin, Keller Easterling on extrastatecraft, Shannon Mattern on infrastructural tourism. Read Barbara Penner on toilets, Keith Eggener on evil buildings, Reinhold Martin on real estate, Naomi Stead on child's play, Sandy Isenstadt on beauty, Gabrielle Esperdy on metadata, Simon Sadler on the magical thinking of TED talks. Read D.J. Waldie on Los Angeles, Richard Campanella on New Orleans, David Heymann on sex — er, we mean landscape. There's hundreds more where those came from, and hundreds more to come.

Our articles will never be behind a paywall, thanks to the generosity of academic partners, foundations, and corporate and individual donors who support a vital discursive culture on design.

Our big mission is to harness the moral and investigative power of public scholarship to promote equitable cities and sustainable landscapes. We publish designers, artists, and thinkers who are responding to the profound ecological and social challenges of our time. Cities that are growing and cities that are shrinking, climate change, environmental health and equity, resource scarcity, technological change — all demand that we rethink how we plan, design, construct, and maintain the built environment. These challenges also demand that serious design journalism and scholarship move from the margins to the center of the larger cultural discussion.

Please join our newsletter, so you'll receive our articles in your inbox. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Donate.

Then get back to The New Yorker block party. If you're looking to load up on summer reading, here is some of the best writing on buildings, cities, and landscapes that we've found.

See you in September.

— The Editors, Places Journal

From The New Yorker