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School of Architecture + Planning

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BBC News

Prof. Hugh Herr joins the BBC’s Shiona McCallum to discuss a program by the K. Lisa Yang Center for Bionics aimed at bringing prosthetics to those who suffered forced amputations during the Sierra Leone Civil War. “When we train a young person on how to construct an arm or leg prothesis we’ve impacted the country for solidly forty years,” Herr says. “That person’s going to be living in that country and contributing to their community for a very long time. That’s exciting.” 

Bloomberg

David Zipper, a senior fellow at the MIT Mobility Lab, writes for Bloomberg about how the findings of William Whyte, an urbanist observer and writer, on what attracts people to urban spaces could be used to help draw people back to downtown areas after the Covid-19 pandemic. “Whyte’s insights suggest a need to build comfortable, pleasant places that invite people to linger, perhaps eating a meal or buying a new shirt while they’re there,” writes Zipper. “And his research serves as a reminder that good public spaces strengthen human relationships, offering an antidote to the loneliness epidemic said to afflict a growing number of Americans.”

Tech Briefs

Prof. Skylar Tibbits speaks with Tech Briefs reporter Andrew Corselli about his team’s work developing a new “additive manufacturing technique that can print rapidly with liquid metal, producing large-scale parts like table legs and chair frames in a matter of minutes.” Of his advice for engineers aiming to bring their ideas to fruition, Tibbits emphasizes: “Work hard, fail a lot, keep trying, don’t give up, and have amazing people around you. We're a research lab, so our whole goal is to go from impossible to possible. So, we're allowed to fail; we're not limited by profitability or customer demand or economy.”

New York Times Style Magazine

New York Times Style Magazine reporter Susan Dominus spotlights the “maximalist, category-defying work” of MIT Prof. Emerita Joan Jonas, who is being honored with a retrospective at the MoMA. “Perception is something that really is an important part of my thinking,” Jonas explains. “How does the audience perceive my work? How does my work change their perception?” Michael Rakowitz SMVisS ’98 notes that Jonas, “is a foundational and transformative figure not just in the realm of video and performance and feminist art but in art that moves away from anthropocentrism.”

New York Times

Prof. Nathaniel Hendren and Prof. Justin Steil speak with New York Times reporter Jason DeParle about the difficulty in building affordable housing in opportunity-rich neighborhoods. “A lot has changed in American life over the past 50 years, but the hostility to affordable housing has remained surprisingly durable,” Steil explains. “Where you grow up matters a great deal for shaping your life outcomes,” Hendren adds.

Marketplace

David Zipper, a senior fellow at the MIT Mobility Initiative, speaks with Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace about how cars in the U.S. are getting heavier and larger, and the environmental and safety costs associated with larger vehicles. “For decades, people who buy enormous, very heavy cars have been creating societal costs that they aren’t paying for. That’s what’s called a market failure,” said Zipper. “So if you want the market for automobiles to succeed, we need to make sure that when people are shopping for their next car, they are considering the societal costs of their purchase.”

New York Times

Writing for The New York Times, Prof. Carlo Ratti and Harvard Prof. Edward L. Glaeser make the case that “the Bay Area needs a lot more housing, and we may need privately built cities to get there.” Ratti and Glaeser note, “building in the Bay Area will enable America to continue its history of allowing people to relocate to more productive places.”

The Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Mitchel Resnick explores how a new coding app developed by researchers from the Lifelong Kindergarten group is aimed at allowing young people to use mobile phones to create interactive stories, games and animations. Resnick makes the case that with “appropriate apps and support, mobile phones can provide opportunities for young people to imagine, create, and share projects.”

The Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, MIT Prof. Carlo Ratti and Harvard Prof. Antoine Picon examine AI and the future of cities, noting that their research has shown “once trained, visual AI is shockingly accurate at predicting property values, crime rates, and even public health outcomes — just by analyzing photos.” They add: “Tireless, penetrating artificial eyes are coming to our streets, promising to show us things we have never seen before. They will be incredible tools to guide us — but only if we keep our own eyes open.”

WBUR

WBUR’s Lloyd Schwartz spotlights Prof. Tod Machover’s revival of “VALIS” at MIT, staged by Prof. Jay Scheib. “The score is an inventive and often hauntingly beautiful arrangement of synthesizer, live instruments, and electronically expanded instruments,” writes Schwartz, “which Machover calls ‘hyper-instruments,’ a compelling amalgamation of minimalism, medieval, Wagner and rock.”

The Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Carlo Ratti emphasizes that in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic “urban areas need to fundamentally reweave their fabric to thrive in the era of flexible work: That means ending homogeneous zoning, promoting mixed-use developments, converting some offices into housing, and giving more space to arts and culture. We should recognize that the fundamental attraction of urban areas is the pleasure they provide to their residents — and that the affordability of housing needs to be seriously tackled.”

The Conversation

Writing for The Conversation, postdoc Ziv Epstein SM ’19, PhD ’23, graduate student Robert Mahari and Jessica Fjeld of Harvard Law School explore how the use of generative AI will impact creative work. “The ways in which existing laws are interpreted or reformed – and whether generative AI is appropriately treated as the tool it is – will have real consequences for the future of creative expression,” the authors note.  

The New York Times

Writing for The New York Times, Prof. Carlo Ratti and Harvard Prof. Edward Glaeser emphasize that in order to, “create a city vibrant enough to compete with the convenience of the internet, we need to end the era of single-use zoning and create mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods that bring libraries, offices, movie theaters, grocery stores, schools, parks, restaurants and bars closer together. We must reconfigure the city into an experience worth leaving the house for.”

Fast Company

MIT researchers have developed a low-cost air quality sensor that can be 3-D printed using open-source instructions and used by people around the world, reports Kristin Toussaint for Fast Company. “The reason we started this project was because we wanted to democratize environmental data,” explains research scientist Simone Mora. “We’re not just opening the data we’ve collected so far, but we hope to funnel a huge development in terms of sensors deployed in the streets, and in turn [make] the data collected available to everyone.”

The Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Carlo Ratti and Robert Muggah of the SecDev Group explore the pushback against 15-minute cities and how the concept behind creating more accessible neighborhoods could “facilitate the meaningful and sustained in-person connections that the internet cannot.” They note that "the concept could be the solution to bridging our divides. By creating more open, integrated, and healthy neighborhoods, it is possible to restore the in-person connections that are an antidote to polarization.”