City of the Future

de Vanessa Quirk

Exploring the ideas and innovations that will transform our cities.

Episodios

Flexible Streets

por Vanessa Quirk

The pandemic has forced us to reexamine and reimagine how we use one of our most precious public spaces: our streets. From outdoor dining to expanded bike lanes, cities have been re-designing streets so they can be better shared by all — drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike. But could we take this idea even further? What if we could use design and technology to make our streets more flexible? So they could change use according to the season, the week, or even the hour? In our season finale, we explore a future where city streets can do just that — and better respond to all of our needs. 

In this episode:

  • [0:01 - 6:44] We meet with transit guru Gridlock Sam to talk about the history of political battles over New York City streets and the recent changes in response to Covid
  • [6:54 - 11:18] Aspen Director of Parking & Downtown Services Mitch Osur and Coord Head of Policy & Partnerships Dawn Miller explain how data is allowing cities to solve problems like traffic and curb congestion
  • [11:43 - 14:40] We visit Sidewalk Labs Senior Creative Technologist Nick Jonas to test out Pebble, a new technology for vehicle occupancy detection 
  • [16:23 - 23:43] Associate Director of Planning & Delivery Siqi Zhu and Director of Mobility Willa Ng imagine how our streets can adapt to be shared more equitably

To see images and videos of topics discussed in this episode, read the link-rich transcript on our Sidewalk Talk Medium page.

City of the Future is hosted by Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk, and produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Mix is by Zach Mcnees. Art is by Tim Kau. Our music is composed by Adaam James Levin-Areddy of Lost Amsterdam. Special thanks to Sam Schwartz, Mitch Osur, Dawn Miller, Nick Jonas, Siqi Zhu, and Willa Ng.

Factory-based Construction

por Vanessa Quirk

For about a century, architects and developers have dreamed of the promise of factory-based construction — after all, if Henry Ford revolutionized the auto industry with assembly lines, why shouldn’t we be able to make buildings in factories, too? But, in North America at least, almost every attempt to revolutionize this industry has failed. But now, thanks to innovations in design, materials, and machinery — and a green wave taking over the industry — factory-based construction could be an idea whose time has finally come. 

In this episode:

  • [0:01 - 3:11] We take a fun trip back in time to Expo 67 and explore why the influential prefabricated concrete building Habitat 67 was just too ahead of its time.  
  • [3:35 - 8:26] Northeastern University architecture professor Ivan Rupnik relays the history of factory-based construction, including Operation Breakthrough, the U.S.’s initiative to out-build the Soviet Union during the Cold War
  • [8:46 - 16:28] Sidewalk Labs Director of Product Design for Buildings Karim Khalifa and Associate Director of Building Innovations Lily Huang describe how Sidewalk Labs is developing an architectural kit of parts to allow architects to build with quality, speed, and sustainability
  • [16:43 - 22:30] Architect and author Susan Jones shares her experiences building her own prefabricated mass timber house and working on the committee to change international building code for mass timber

To see images and videos of topics discussed in this episode, read the link-rich transcript on our Sidewalk Talk Medium page.

City of the Future is hosted by Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk, and produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Mix is by Zach Mcnees. Art is by Tim Kau. Our music is composed by Adaam James Levin-Areddy of Lost Amsterdam. Special thanks to Ivan Rupnik, Karim Khalifa, Lily Huang, and Susan Jones.

Remote Work

por Vanessa Quirk

In an era of remote work, when people can work from anywhere, where will they choose to live? And what can cities do to set themselves apart from the competition? In this episode, we look at the ways remote work could change not just the way we live in cities — but which cities we live in, too. 

In this episode:

  • [0:01 - 4:47] Tulsa Remote community manager Taylor Allen tells her story of moving from Florida to Tulsa, Oklahoma, sight unseen 
  • [7:09 - 11:00] Professor of Urban Economics Richard Florida on why the future of economic development is about talent 
  • [12:02 - 14:06] Digital transformation adviser Anett Numa on how Estonia became one of the most digitally enabled countries in the world
  • [14:12 - 16:23] Topia Chief Product Officer Sten Tamkivi on what kinds of factors draw people to specific cities
  • [16:36 - 18:22] Topia Director of Product Management Chantel Rowe shows Estonia’s digital infrastructure in action — and how it made her move to the country easy
  • [19:43 - 22:59] Taylor returns to explain why fostering a sense of community matters in attracting talent

To see images and videos of topics discussed in this episode, read the link-rich transcript on our Sidewalk Talk Medium page.

City of the Future is hosted by Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk, and produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Mix is by Zach Mcnees. Art is by Tim Kau. Our music is composed by Adaam James Levin-Areddy of Lost Amsterdam. Special thanks to Richard Florida, Anett Numa, Sten Tamkivi, Chantel Rowe, and Taylor Allen.

Generative Design

por Vanessa Quirk

Generative design is the process of automatically producing thousands of designs based on goals and constraints you feed into a computer. In this episode, we ask: could you apply generative design to something as complex as the urban planning process? Could it reveal better designs for buildings, neighborhoods, districts — showing us options we didn’t even know were possible? And, in the future, could this new emerging field even empower urban development teams to create better, more human cities?

In this episode:

  • [0:06 - 4:13] Hosts Vanessa Quirk and Eric Jaffe on the unintended consequences of the 1915 Equitable Building (the “monstrosity” that influenced New York City’s first zoning laws)
  • [4:15 - 11:42] Sidewalk Labs’ Senior Product Manager Violet Whitney and Senior Design Lead Brian Ho on Delve, a product that uses generative design to reveal unexplored urban design options for any given development project
  • [11:43 - 18:13] Carnegie Mellon University’s Associate Professor of Ethics & Computational Technologies Molly Wright Steenson on the history of architecture and computing — and the contributions of thinkers like Cedric Price, Christopher Alexander, and the MIT Architecture Machine Group
  • [18:14 - 20:16] Geographer and City Planner Evan Lowry on how visualization software could transform community engagement in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • [20:19 - 22:42] Violet and Brian return to explain why it’s important for cities to visualize how urban designs could impact their communities.

To see images and videos of topics discussed in this episode, read the link-rich transcript on our Sidewalk Talk Medium page.

City of the Future is hosted by Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk, and produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Mix is by Zach Mcnees. Art is by Tim Kau. Our music is composed by Adaam James Levin-Areddy of Lost Amsterdam. Special thanks to Violet Whitney, Brian Ho, Molly Wright Steenson, and Evan Lowry.

Energy-Efficient Buildings

por Vanessa Quirk

To save our planet, we’ll need to reduce emissions — fast. And if we’re serious about addressing climate change, we’ll need to address one of our biggest carbon emitters: buildings. That doesn’t just go for the new, shiny skyscrapers with access to lots of resources, but all buildings: old and new, big and small. We’re kicking off season 3 with an episode exploring an idea that could make our cities more sustainable and even more just. Energy-efficient buildings.

In this episode:

  • [0:02 - 2:58] Architect Wanda Dalla Costa on her work creating an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly housing development for the Gila River Indian Community
  • [3:59 - 7:27] Sustainable buildings expert Kimi Narita on why retrofitting buildings is so important for cities responding to climate change
  • [7:48 - 10:04] Proptech expert Ryan J. S. Baxter on why energy regulations can fall short in incentivizing buildings to make energy upgrades and why tech adoption could change that
  • [10:17 - 14:05] Sidewalk Labs Senior Product Manager Rachel Steinberg and Data Scientist Jenny Chen on Mesa, a solution to help office buildings become more energy-efficient
  • [14:43 - 16:12] Rachel Steinberg on green leases, which encourage energy-efficiency for tenants and landlords
  • [16:22 - 18:20] Kimi Narita on why we need new technologies and regulations to get to net-zero carbon by 2050

To see images and videos of topics discussed in this episode, read the transcript on our Sidewalk Talk Medium page.

City of the Future is hosted by Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk and produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Mix is by Zach Mcnees. Art is by Tim Kau. Our music is composed by Adaam James Levin-Areddy of Lost Amsterdam. Special thanks to Wanda Dalla Costa, Kimi Narita, Ryan J. S. Baxter, Jenny Chen, and Rachel Steinberg.

Trailer: City of the Future Season 3!

por Vanessa Quirk

Hi City of the Future listeners! We've been hard at work behind the scenes, and we're so excited to share a little sneak peek of season three. Stay tuned — and you'll hear more from us in the fall! 

Introducing The Sidewalk Weekly!

por Vanessa Quirk

Hi, City of the Future listeners! Remember when we asked if anyone would like to listen to a pilot of a new podcast? Well good news — that podcast launches today!  It’s called the Sidewalk Weekly, and it's a light-hearted chat show that provides your weekly dose of urban tech news. We’ll do interviews, we’ll play games, we’ll make some bad jokes, and hopefully set you off into your weekend smiling. 

This is our pilot episode from last week. If you like what you hear, then you can head to the Sidewalk Weekly feed to listen to more episodes. https://sidewalklabs.com/podcast/

We hope you enjoy — and don’t worry — we’ll be back with City of the Future Season 3 this fall. 

Lend us your ears?

por Vanessa Quirk

Hi City of the Future listeners! In between seasons, we've been working on a new podcast idea. (Don't worry, CotF isn't going anywhere!) We'd love to know what you think about this potential new show. If you're interested in listening to the 20-minute pilot  and providing your feedback, please fill out this form: http://bit.ly/2U7PScp

 

10: Responsive Architecture

por Vanessa Quirk

In the last century, we started to design our buildings in a way that was divorced from the environment. We made sealed, hermetic structures that never moved and never changed. But now, technologies and materials are allowing our buildings to move, evolve, and even respond — not only to their environments, but to us, too.

In this episode, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss the past, present, and future of responsive architecture with Sidewalk Labs' director of public realm Jesse Shapins, engineer and microclimate expert Goncalo Pedro, "Bubbletecture" author Sharon Francis, and renowned architect Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. For a link-rich transcript of this episode, click here.

City of the Future is produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Mix is by Zach Mcnees. Art is by Tim Kau. Our music is composed by Adaam James Levin-Areddy. If you want to hear more of Adaam’s work, you can check out his band, Lost Amsterdam.

 

 

9: Affordable electrification

por Vanessa Quirk

For a sustainable future, we need to turn away from fossil fuels and turn towards electricity. But to electrify everything — our cars, our buildings, our entire neighborhoods — we'll need to make some big changes first.

In this episode, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk explore the future of electrification with Gretchen Bakke, author of The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, and Sidewalk Labs' director of sustainability Charlotte Matthews. For a link-rich transcript of this episode, click here

City of the Future is produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Mix is by Zach Mcnees. Art is by Tim Kau. Our music is composed by Adaam James Levin-Areddy. If you want to hear more of Adaam’s work, you can check out his band, Lost Amsterdam.

 

8: Mobility on Demand

por Vanessa Quirk

Getting around cities today can be challenging. Streets are congested and chaotic, and new modes seem to be popping up daily, adding to the confusion. Cities won't just need physical infrastructure to prepare for these growing mobility options, but the digital infrastructure to help coordinate them all.

In this episode, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk explore the future of mobility: author Horace Dediu talks about micro-mobility; TriMet's Bibiana McHugh tells the story behind GTFS and the OpenTrip Planner; MaaS Global CEO Sampo Hietanen explains the concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS); and Sidewalk Labs' Corinna Li explains what Mobility on Demand could be like in the city of the future. For a link-rich transcript of this episode, click here

City of the Future is produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Mix is by Zach Mcnees. Art is by Tim Kau. Our music is composed by Adaam James Levin-Areddy. If you want to hear more of Adaam’s work, you can check out his band, Lost Amsterdam.

7: Stoa

por Vanessa Quirk

Vacant storefronts have become pervasive on our city streets. How did we get here? And how can we help retailers, and community spaces, thrive? In this episode, we explore innovations that could help address the retail crisis — and embed flexibility and vibrancy into our cities' ground floors.

Special thanks to Abigail Ellman, Isaiah Michael, Parul Patel, Mark Pilkington, Mark Bauernhuber, Sarah Filley, Chase Clark, Regina Evans, and Carrie Denning Jackson. For a link-rich transcript of this episode, click here. And if you're a Boston-based listener who would like to hear more from Vanessa and Carrie on this topic, join us on October 9th at Culture House for a live event

City of the Future is produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Mix is by Zach Mcnees. Art is by Tim Kau. Our music is composed by Adaam James Levin-Areddy. If you want to hear more of Adaam’s work, you can check out his band, Lost Amsterdam.

6: Affordability by Design

por Vanessa Quirk

We're in a housing crisis. Could affordability by design be part of the solution? In this episode hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk look at trends in housing — from unit design to co-living — and ask how the private sector can do more to support the public sector in creating more choice and affordability in cities.

Special thanks to Ori CEO Hasier Larrea, nArchitects' Eric Bunge, Starcity CEO Jon Dishotsky, Sidewalk Labs' Associate Director of Development Annie Koo, Don Row, and Johanna Greenbaum. For a transcript of this episode — including links to the research and clips we feature — click here.

City of the Future is produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Mix is by Zach Mcnees. Art is by Tim Kau. Our music is composed by Adaam James Levin-Areddy. If you want to hear more of Adaam’s work, you can check out his band, Lost Amsterdam.

BONUS: Dan Doctoroff unpacks our Toronto plan

por Vanessa Quirk

Today, Sidewalk Labs’ proposal for Toronto, the Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP), will be released to the public. And because a lot of the innovations in the MIDP are episode topics that we’ll be exploring in Season 2, we figured we’d drop a bonus episode with a special guest: Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff.

Live at the Brooklyn Podcast Festival!

por Vanessa Quirk

For our first live show, co-host Vanessa Quirk moderates a discussion with some of the familiar voices from season 1: Director of Buildings Innovation Karim Khalifa; Director of Mobility for Streets Willa Ng; and Associate Director of Sustainability Emily Kildow. We talk about everything from fire testing timber to congestion pricing to pneumatic tubes.

Thanks to City Farm Presents for having City of the Future at the Brooklyn Podcast festival. 

5: Closing the Recycling Loop

por Vanessa Quirk

Simple as it may seem, recycling properly is really hard — and our misguided attempts are actually harming the planet more than helping. But what if we could know, instantly, if we're recycling correctly? What if we were "nudged" to recycle better? Or reuse more? In this episode, we explore how behavioral science — and computer vision — could help us help our planet.

City of the Future is produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Our hosts are Vanessa Quirk and Eric Jaffe. This episode was mixed by Zach McNees. Music is by Adaam James Levine-Areddy (check out his band at amsterdamlost.com). Art is by Tim Kau. Special thanks to all who made this episode possible: Benjamin Miller, Emily Kildow, Sasha Tregebov, and Clare Miflin. 

4: Delivery Robots

por Vanessa Quirk

Every day, truck drivers are out battling rush hour traffic, maneuvering through narrow city streets, circling for parking, emitting exhaust — all to get you your package as fast as possible. For the sake of our cities, and our planet, things have to change.

The future of delivery will be smaller, less loud, and more sustainable. In fact, in the future, you package might just find its way to you. 

City of the Future is produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Our hosts are Vanessa Quirk and Eric Jaffe. Mix by Sharif Youssef. Music is by Adaam James Levine-Areddy (check out his band at amsterdamlost.com). Art is by Tim Kau. Special thanks to all who made this episode possible: Chris Lutick, Brian Clark, Anne Goodchild, Sandra Rothbard, and Rohit Aggarwala. 

3: Adaptive Traffic Lights

por Vanessa Quirk

Traffic lights were invented to improve pedestrian safety, but they also created streets that put cars first. But what if traffic lights could respond to the actual conditions at the intersection — perhaps stay red for an elderly walker or turn green for a crowded bus? In this episode, we explore an innovation that could change the hierarchy of the street: adaptive traffic lights. 

City of the Future is produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Our hosts are Vanessa Quirk and Eric Jaffe. Mix by Sharif Youssef. Music is by Adaam James Levine-Areddy (check out his band at amsterdamlost.com). Art is by Tim Kau. Special thanks to all who made this episode possible: Willa Ng, Ryan Vilim, Richard Saylor, Kara Oehler, Claire Mullen, Taylor Wizener, and Sven Kreiss. 

2: Modular Pavement

por Vanessa Quirk

In our second episode, we explore how modular pavement — which would allow us to embed technologies into our streets — could transform our cities. We talk to Tim Allen, co-founder of a start-up working to make pavement warm up and melt snow (Arctic Heat Technologies); Thierry Sedran, the father of "removable urban pavement"; and Chris Sitzenstock and Cara Eckholm of Sidewalk Labs. 

City of the Future is produced by Benjamen Walker and Andrew Callaway. Our hosts are Vanessa Quirk and Eric Jaffe. Mix by Sharif Youssef. Music is by Adaam James Levine-Areddy (check out his band at amsterdamlost.com). For this episode, we also used two songs from the Free Music Archive: "Battle of Pogs" and "Ending" by Komiku. Art is by Tim Kau. Special thanks to all who made this episode possible: Kara Oehler, Claire Mullen, Tim Allen, Thierry Sedran, Chris Sitzenstock, and Cara Eckholm.

1: Mass Timber

por Vanessa Quirk

In our first episode of City of the Future, our new bi-weekly podcast, we explore how mass timber could transform our cities — by making wooden skyscrapers possible. We talk to the world’s leading expert on tall wooden buildings, Michael Green, and Sidewalk’s Director of Buildings Innovation, Karim Khalifa.

This episode was produced by Kara Oehler. Our hosts are Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk. Mix by Sharif Youssef. Our music is by Adaam James Levine-Areddy (check out his band at amsterdamlost.com). Our art is by Tim Kau. Special thanks to all who made this episode possible: Michael Green, Karim Khalifa, Claire Mullen, Eric Baczuk, Benjamen Walker, and Andrew Callaway. 

City of the Future - Coming Soon!

por Vanessa Quirk

City of the Future is a podcast from Sidewalk Labs — coming soon!