What does a city look like? To Franz-Josef Ulm, an engineering professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it looks like a material with a molecular structure. With colleagues, Ulm has begun analyzing cities based on factors such as building arrangement, each building’s center of mass, and how they’re ordered around each other. He has concluded that Boston’s structure looks like an “amorphous liquid.” Seattle is another liquid, and so is Los Angeles. Chicago, which was designed on a grid, looks like glass, he says; New York resembles a highly ordered crystal. If the analogy does hold up, Ulm hopes it will give planners a new tool to understand a city’s structure, its energy use, and possibly even its resilience to climate change.
Via Jorge Louçã