Update: Thank you all for showing up and asking great questions! For more on The 99% Invisible City, including reviews, previews, and signed copies, check out 99pi.org/book. We also did an episode with short versions of 10 stories from the book and an article about the book design process! And if you're new to 99pi or looking to share it with friends: I recently rounded up 10 staff favorites episodes from the 2010s to start with. Thanks for having us!

99% Invisible is a big-ideas podcast and website about small-seeming things, revealing stories baked into the buildings we inhabit, the streets we drive on, and sidewalks we traverse. The show and book celebrate design in all of its functional glory and accidental absurdity, with tales of exceptional designers but also everyday designs.

Show host and creator Roman Mars launched what was then a “tiny radio show about design” a decade ago, then broke crowdfunding records for journalism. He co-founded an independent podcasting network and did a beautifully nerdy TED talk on flags with over 6MM views to date.

Producer and book co-author Kurt Kohlstedt joined the show five years ago, but has been writing about design and cities since getting a graduate degree in architecture in 2007. In addition to working on episodes of the show, he also regularly writes articles for the website.

Our new book, The 99% Invisible City, reflects years of research and reporting about how cities work, exploring the origins and other fascinating stories behind everything from power grids and fire escapes to drinking fountains and street signs. It’s for anyone curious about design processes, urban environments, and the unsung marvels of the world around them.

To read more about the book, our upcoming live events or read reviews, check out our book page! Also: visit our subreddit at /r/99percentinvisible (special thanks to the fans who created and maintain that wonderful space!) and feel free to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram -- and if this show sounds like your cup of tea, be sure to subscribe to the podcast! Bonus: In our just-released episode, Roman and Kurt walk around beautiful downtown Oakland, California, telling stories from the book and offer a behind-the-scenes look at how we made it!


Note: Roman and I will show up at 2:30 to answer your questions, but meanwhile: ask away!

Update: Need to take a break and start getting ready for the live show this evening with Alexis Madrigal (details at 99pi.org/book) - will try to check in later tonight and answer more questions!

Update: Dropped back in after the show to answer a bunch of new questions - what a blast! Thanks all! The link above lists our live (virtual) tour dates this week, so if you're interested, sign up for one!

Comments: 363 • Responses: 66  • Date: 

ApesInSpace199 karma

It always makes me smile that 99% is proudly produced in "beautiful downtown Oakland California." What's your favorite design story about Oakland infrastructure, history, or architecture? And more controversially - where's the best taco in the Town?

KurtKohlstedt53 karma

It's hard not to love the Cathedral Building which is near our office. I'm also a huge fan of the scramble intersection in Chinatown nearby. I even have the ornate pattern on a t-shirt!

BlueSwayedBooze101 karma

The No Name brand episode resonated a lot with my Canadian compatriots.

Is there any other Canadiana you'd like to tackle?

(also thanks for the book. I just bought a second copy for my brother who LOVED that no name episode)

KurtKohlstedt78 karma

We did one on the Gander Airport, too! - I bet Chris (Canadian producer) has some more ideas in mind ;)

BlueSwayedBooze23 karma

Ooh that one was great. Thanks for the reminder! Trash pandas for life.

KurtKohlstedt31 karma

Oh my ... I can't believe I forgot to mention that episode too! :D

MrReginaldAwesome81 karma

What's the physically smallest thing you've found to be the most important out of all the things you've investigated?

KurtKohlstedt126 karma

Huh, good question - the thing that comes to mind are breakaway bolts - they're these little bolts that attach poles to bases but are designed to snap off when a vehicles hits the post (to reduce damage/injuries in a crash).

MrReginaldAwesome28 karma

Wow cool, I wonder how those are handled in areas with lots of storms/hurricanes/tornadoes?

KurtKohlstedt47 karma

Good question! There are different variations on this design, though, like angled slip bases that only break if hit from a particular direction, so my guess would be something along those lines maybe, but now I need to look into it :)

arcalumis9 karma

Is there a podcast about those bolts? I’ve been subscribed to your podcast since I saw Mars’ podcast but I listen to the episodes that intrigue me and I can’t remember an episode about break away bolts.

KurtKohlstedt33 karma

I think we may have talked about them in the coda of an episode, but they are definitely in the book, regardless!

Edit: yes, indeed, we talked about them a bit at the very end of The Nut Behind the Wheel

artoonie56 karma

What's episode, fact, or opinion has gotten your listeners the most worked up?

(Corollary on Reply All: lime wedges that are too skinny to squeeze.)

KurtKohlstedt56 karma

Oh, well, that would be this one. It managed to draw ire from a lot of sides.

HeritageSpanish43 karma

Your podcast has made me appreciate the physical world in a way I never have before. A serious gamechanger over the past 3-4 years. One of my absolute favorite episodes was about hostile urban architecture. and the time Roman broke Mazda!

All that said, what is the favorite thing you have done during the course of your 99 PI escapades? Favorite story you wrote or person you met?

KurtKohlstedt31 karma

Ah yes - so Roman and I worked on that one together, actually, but he did all the heavy lifting! And the book it is based on is just great - Unpleasant Design, which has a dust jacket made of sandpaper (it scratched up my laptop!). We talk about hostile design even more in the book, too, including some quite recent and interesting stories.

chooseausernamethree39 karma

How do you stop from falling into a rabbit hole while researching something? How do you know when something is enough? Do you have abandoned projects?

KurtKohlstedt52 karma

I ... don't (stop, that is). I follow rabbit holes as far as I can, like the W4-2 road sign. For deadlines, at some point you just put out what you have, but sometimes you also keep researching, and in some cases little things I posted short blurbs about became the basis for larger stories in the book, for example.

romanmars66 karma

Kurt has a condo in a rabbit hole

KurtKohlstedt46 karma

Can confirm. It's small, just enough space for me and a few raccoons.

bob_newhart_of_dixie33 karma

I know I can submit this as a story idea on the website, but.. gun to your head: how do you feel about suburbia's ubiquitous fake shutters?

They always baffled me as a child- there were houses with fake shutters, and houses with no shutters, but I never saw a house with shutters.

KurtKohlstedt39 karma

I saw a hilarious tweet the other day of shutters framing garages - like, just, why?

bob_newhart_of_dixie9 karma

This reminds me of https://uglybelgianhouses.tumblr.com/archive

I suggest viewing it chronologically from oldest to newest, if you're not already familiar with the site. It's a whole collection of "just, why?"

KurtKohlstedt18 karma

I love this kind of stuff - see also: terrible real estate agent photos :D

bob_newhart_of_dixie15 karma

Oh, these are great. Tangentially, have y'all ever considered doing a crossover/collaboration with the guys at "Ask This Old House"? I feel like some of the topics 99pi covers would make for interesting segments on ATOH. I also think Tom Silva and/or Norm Abrams would be a great interview for your show.

KurtKohlstedt13 karma

I'll drop it in our idea channel!

selvandar33 karma

If you (Roman) had stayed in Chicago, what would the location tagline be? Kurt, what would you use for Minnesota?

KurtKohlstedt76 karma

"... reporting from my wonderfully temperature-controlled lakeside studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota"

Gorilla721 karma

Bycicles are not cars and are not pedestrians . Some countries treat them like fast pedestrians some places like US treat them like cars. Why? ?? - a disappointed immigrant with the bike laws in the US of A.

KurtKohlstedt19 karma

I agree - overall, the US is not the best model of a cyclist-friendly country. There are exceptions, though, or at least: varying degrees of good and bad designs. Minneapolis and Portland are toward the top!

underexpressing20 karma

Where is the part of downtown Oakland that is beautiful? Or if you're referring to the entire downtown as beautiful, which part is the most beautiful?

KurtKohlstedt15 karma

I mean, Roman should probably answer this one too, but I kind of love the old oak tree in the park - I'm also pretty into the whole area of shipyards nearby, too (there's even a weirdly isolated little park if you drive out past them!).

ApesInSpace14 karma

Middle Harbor Shoreline Park! Or technically there's an even weirder, smaller park out past that - Port View Park. If you walk all the way to the end of the line, there's a funny octagonal fishing pier full of guys in their 50s drinking beer and catching fish.

KurtKohlstedt9 karma

It is so wild, really - like I don't imagine many people think to head out that way, but I love driving past the cranes and the trucks and there being these little public spaces in this sort of hidden corner of the city.

helloali20 karma

What's your favorite story in the book? Also if we can hope for a post-Trump world, what role might Elizabeth Joh continue to have at Radiotopia? Or maybe she already does, and I just don't know yet.

KurtKohlstedt23 karma

I mentioned one in the second part of today's episode, so I feel like I should pick another that I also had to fight a bit to keep in - it's about how they deconstruct buildings in Japan floor by floor. It speaks to architectural durability, sustainability and improbably successful design solutions. It's called 'Unbuilding Codes' (in Chapter 4).

MyPasswordIsDrums19 karma

What assumption did you have about a design that turned out to be the most wrong/surprising?

KurtKohlstedt27 karma

This was decades ago now when I was working in residential carpentry/construction - I'd always assumed things like baseboards and trim were decorative, but learned they help cover stuff up (like where drywall meets the floor).

selvandar18 karma

What's one thing you wanted to include, but couldn't find a way to make it fit?

KurtKohlstedt20 karma

There were so many. I wrote about some things that got cut here but I think blue stop signs would have been neat - it didn't reach us in time, though, so we ended up including it in our Highways 101 episode.

hmm_nah16 karma

Is it possible to design towns and cities "cradle to cradle"..so it's easier for ghost towns to become natural landscape again, and urban areas whose design no longer fits the needs of the community can repurposed and re-developed sustainably?

KurtKohlstedt24 karma

I mentioned this in another comment, but in 'Unbuilding Codes' (really, that whole section on 'Heritage') in the book we do talk about everything from reusing buildings to letting them gracefully degrade.

Adaptive reuse is a huge passion of mine (I often recommend Stuart Brand's book How Buildings Learn) - I did my grad thesis on it and I've written a bunch of 99pi articles about it, too!

flobin13 karma

Hey Kurt, just want to say I love(d) Web Urbanist back in the day?

Where do you get your urbanism/urban planning/urban design news? Any websites/accounts/channels you'd like to recommend?

KurtKohlstedt10 karma

Woah, thanks! WU was a big passion for a long time. CityLab and Curbed have long been go-tos for me, but I also follow a lot of urbanists on twitter (plus, people send me stuff, because they know what I'm into).

eanders13 karma

Beyond having to work from home, what challenges and opportunities has the pandemic posed for your work on the book and the podcast? Are there stories you might not have considered otherwise, or approaches you might not have discovered? Have there been unexpected benefits? Have there been challenges you wouldn't have anticipated in March?

PS. Love my new challenge coin!

KurtKohlstedt14 karma

It has had less of an impact on the book, since a lot of the actual writing (not counting: editing, fact checking, layouts and so on) was far along by the time things started locking down. As for audio, though, not traveling to locations for stories is something producers have had to adapt to. I guess one upside is that now that we're mostly remote, we have people like Chris, Christopher, Delaney and Vivian working from all different cities!

Even things like sending a tape sync (someone to professionally record the 'other end' of a phone interview) is tricky. So ... more phone interviews and a lot of trying to figure out how to get interviewees to record themselves!

gettingawayfromthesp11 karma

Thank you for making this, beautiful nerds.

Question for either of you-- when you were younger, what first made you question or wonder about the design of things(or how random things worked)?

KurtKohlstedt11 karma

I'm not really sure where that all started. My earliest design-related memory was from the old brick farmhouse I lived in outside of Cortland, NY until I was nine. I remember taking a pencil to a yellow pad and for whatever reason drawing out the floor plan of the house and thinking that was fun. I may be a nerd.

princedelabun10 karma

Hi! I would like to know more about how you approach organising the structure of each 99pi episode (i.e its flow, content etc)? I have always found your style of storytelling very engaging, like how one seemingly irrelevant anecdote leads to the main story.

KurtKohlstedt11 karma

I'm not sure there's a one-size-fits-all answer for this. It's true there's often an opening hook of some kind, but how the narrative moves forward can vary. One example I like to cite of a non-standard but beautiful episode is Avery's The Pool and the Stream - then there are more interview-style episodes, mini-stories, we try to mix things up a bit ;)

rocketlemon10 karma

Is there an email inbox just for suggestions/questions for new things for you to explore? Follow up to this: have you ever received a suggestion for something to research that turned out to have an unexpected story?

KurtKohlstedt12 karma

Our contact page has a 'story ideas' option in the dropdown - some make it all the way to becoming episodes, but other smaller ideas often make it into articles or mini-stories like the ones we collected in You Should Do a Story

ClockOfTheLongNow9 karma

I'll take the bait: who is your favorite producer?

KurtKohlstedt9 karma

I see someone caught Vivian's post on twitter :D

MyPasswordIsDrums9 karma

I just started the book, and saw a reference to the Can Opener bridge in NC. I've followed the bridge's youtube page for a couple years now, and wondered if you had a favorite collision or story about the bridge?

KurtKohlstedt10 karma

To me it's the progression more than any one incident - like the fact that they keep trying fixes, and they keep not working. It's a strangely persistent problem. People just ignore all these signs and blinking lights!

LatiPexie8 karma

What possessed you to use the phrase “relic of the 1900s” in your latest episode and cause me to have an existential crisis about how old I am?

KurtKohlstedt5 karma

So I wasn't in on the edits for that one, but ... I can confirm that I am a relic of the 1900s too :S

obsidianjeff7 karma

My favorite fun fact I've learned from the podcast is small/medium/large clothing sizes not being a thing before the civil war. (from episode 226 https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/on-average/ )

What are your favorite fun facts to come from your research?

KurtKohlstedt7 karma

I'll tell you one that's front-of-mind just because I wrote an article about it recently: the invention of the forerunner to the modern bicycle, which was indirectly the result of a volcanic eruption. It's a weird little story

roipoiboy7 karma

I love my new challenge coin! I haven't had a coin check yet, but I did toss it to decide what to have for dinner yesterday!

What's the process of designing these coins like? Any particular inspiration or designs that you guys want to put on future challenge coins? Or any rejected designs?

KurtKohlstedt10 karma

My first thought with this coin was to sort of look back to and do a newer version of the original (like: a bunch of icons), but in the end, a manhole cover just ... worked. It was the perfect mundane universal thing for the front. Then for the back, thinking in circles, the book illustration of the cistern covers came to mind, then we tried to figure out what else we could work into the frame with it. Roman had the brilliant idea to make the little cistern cover on the back look like a miniature of the front side, too. In the end, the MuchMore team brought the whole design to life!

roipoiboy2 karma

I love it since it's so relevant to the ideas of the book, but also since the design itself reflects the idea of looking closely at something on one side while seeing it in context on the other side.

The yellow enamel square in the center reminds me of traditional Chinese coins like these guys with square holes. Was that intentional or was it just meant to reflect the show's logo?

KurtKohlstedt5 karma

It was just for the logo, but I love that association and those coins - I picked some up ages ago! I'm a big fan of strange coinage (collect a full set in every country I visit). A few favorites: the really worthless, low-denomination ones made of some kind of super-light metal in Italy, and the three-metal 20-Franc piece.

Incream16 karma

What was your first podcast? How did you get started?

KurtKohlstedt7 karma

Well that's an easy one for me: I got started when Roman hired me ;)

BarnabyWoods5 karma

You've had at least one episode on universal design, i.e., design that considers the needs of differently-abled people, but it didn't touch how much design favors right-handed people. Vending machines, cameras, phones, subway turnstiles, scissors, keyboards, etc. are all designed for right-handed people.

Maybe I've missed an episode that touched on this, but have you considered talking about design that doesn't leave left-handed people feeling left out?

KurtKohlstedt5 karma

This has definitely come up from time to time - I can't speak for the whole team, but my best guess is that we haven't found the right 'story' to make it work yet - like as a topic it's definitely of interest, but to make an episode it needs characters, a focus, an arc. If nothing else, though, it would make for a good mini-story I think - that's a format that lends itself to talking about ideas rather than characters. If you have a specific story/character you think could anchor a piece, though, suggest away and I'll drop it in our ideas channel!

BarnabyWoods6 karma

I'm not sure I can name a specific character, but I can tell you this: When I was a left-handed kid in third grade, I had an art teacher, a very traditional old-world woman, who berated me for holding the scissors in my left hand. She was Italian-American, and in Italian, "sinestro" means left-handed. It also, of course, means sinister, i.e., evil. This notion is true the world over. In many countries, the left hand is the "dirty" one, which is only used for wiping your ass. Once, while traveling in Turkey, I was invited into a family's home for a meal, which we all ate sitting on the floor in their one-room house. Being a clueless young tourist, I ate my food using my left hand, while they all looked on in polite horror. Two-thirds of the world still hates lefties. In China, they virtually deny that lefties exist. While I always knew that scissors weren't designed for oddballs like me, it took me much longer to notice all the ways that the world was tilted in favor of righties. Vending machine coin slots and controls are almost always on the right side. A camera's controls are mostly oriented to the right. The number pad on a computer keyboard is always on the right. I had adapted to all of this without thinking about it, but it began to dawn on me that the built world was just a little more convenient for righties.

KurtKohlstedt6 karma

Well I'm into this - I'm going to paste this into the internal ideas channel and see if anyone bites on the production side - if not, could be an article or mini-story.

BarnabyWoods4 karma

Great! And at the risk of stating the obvious, I love your podcast.

KurtKohlstedt3 karma

Thank you! And thanks for giving me some ideas to stew on - I want to cover this one way or another, just need to figure out what format it would make sense in (and find some time once the book hubbub dies down a bit!)

sporkforknife5 karma

What is one place you never expected to find yourself when researching a story or following someone up for an interview?

Also, want to thank you all for accompanying me the past couple years on my long car rides, grueling layovers, and Amtrack expeditions. Very excited for the book!

KurtKohlstedt7 karma

Hmmm ... maybe up on top of this hill checking out airmail arrows

simon_me5 karma

How would you describe a story, which totally fits to 99PI narrative, what it definitely should include? and how do you find them so often? Do you have proven method for finding them?

romanmars10 karma

It usually has to have one central story and also a bigger design lesson attached to it. I also like the ones that help the listener decode the world in a new way, even if the specific thing being discussed is not something they have direct experience with.

KurtKohlstedt7 karma

I'll add that if there isn't a big story to be had, some ideas wind up becoming end-of-year 'mini-stories'

WizardVigilante5 karma

What do you think is your most underrated episode or subject matter? Already have my preorder challenge coin BTW!

KurtKohlstedt9 karma

I mean, just something fresh in mind, but I thought this silly little story about a county seal might have gained more traction than it did. As for episodes: I feel like every episode is appreciated by different people - almost every time someone will respond with something like 'this is my favorite episode ever!' which is just great.

Terziak5 karma

Hey just want to say that 99% Invisible is my absolute favourite podcast, especially as someone studying Product Design at the moment. My question is how do you stay motivated/inspired to keep the constant output of amazing work? Especially now considering the current circumstances of working from home.

KurtKohlstedt7 karma

Funny thing for me is: I did this for a long time before joining the show. I spent 8 years working from home and from coffee shops on various web publications, so it feels familiar.

Of course, on a personal level, it's still a bit depressing not to have normal everyday interactions or be able to safely fly and visit family or friends in other cities, but work-wise, it's not too tricky. We're on slack a lot!

cme8845 karma

I always come to AMAs hours after they have finished, but this is the first one I’m truly sorry to have missed. 99pi is honestly my favorite podcast, and I listen to a bunch!

In the small chance that /u/KurtKohlstedt or /u/romanmars show back up, I wanted to ask which of your episodes you feel would be a great supplement to a high school English teacher’s lesson?

Thanks for doing what you do!

KurtKohlstedt3 karma

Oooh, I love these kinds of questions. Interrobang could be fun. The Universal Page is another good one. Froebel's Gifts is me being biased because it's not really about English but it is about education!

Anxious_Mango9225 karma

I'm a student journalist and a huge fan of the show so I have to ask -- do you ever take interns?

KurtKohlstedt5 karma

We haven't since Avery, I think, who started as an intern before coming on full time (many years back). Onboarding people during this pandemic is also tricky, to say the least, so I'm not sure if we have any near-future plans to.

Hacksaures5 karma

Hi! I love 99pi, it always keeps me entertained on my multi-hour-long drives up and down California. I always loved how I could look at things as they were being spoken about. However, being from another country (Malaysia), many of the topics brought up in your show would be extremely foreign and hard recognize had I never seen them in person before. So, I have a few questions:

  1. How do you use descriptive language and sound effects so well to help visualize curious objects to people who have never seen them before?

  2. Could you recommend other podcasts that are as design-focused as your show, but not America-centric?

  3. Could you please turn down the sub-bass a little on your podcasts? Blows out my speakers every time Roman laughs! (Partially kidding on this one)

Thank you again for producing one of the best podcasts I have ever listened to! I can’t wait for my order of the book to arrive.

KurtKohlstedt5 karma

I don't have answers for 2 or 3, but for 1: Roman describes it pretty well when asked this question, so I'll try to paraphrase, but there are basically two ways to do it - you either go simple, give people the gist of a design so they can follow the story, or you go into a lot of detail if the details are really important to the story. I get to cheat a bit because when I'm writing articles, of course, I can drop in images and videos (in the book: illustrations!) ;)

TheBigBoy1013 karma

What has been the most Interesting episode you've been apart of?

KurtKohlstedt4 karma

Unpleasant Design, then later: Froebel's Gifts was just great. I had been thinking about it for a long time, then we did a version of it live on the Radiotopia East Coast tour, then we made it into an episode! It's still amazing to me that I had never learned anything about Froebel's work or the influence of kindergarten when I was in architecture school.

thesilv3r3 karma

Something I've wondered since travelling around Asia is how different the use of Bikes/Motorbikes are there, and then contrasting that to the western world when it was at a similar stage of development (at least on a GDP/capita basis). From a design perspective, how different do you think major western cities like New York would be if the bicycle were ubiquitous 100 years earlier?

KurtKohlstedt4 karma

It's hard to even imagine, but NYC also got really close to closing down more streets for pedestrians and cyclists just half a century ago (we talk about that in the book, too!).

I'm just glad at least for how pedestrian-friendly the city is for the most part - if I lived and cycled there I'm sure I'd be frustrated, but when I travel there I just love walking around and taking the trains.

Insane_Drako3 karma

I'm late to the game, so I hope that maybe this will get caught later. Greetings from Canada! I absolutely adore your podcast.

I've mentioned it in a Facebook post before, and I know this might be early to ask since you just now released your book, but do you have any plans to publish another one? Maybe a children's book?

I'd love to explore the concept of design with my daughter as she grows up. If you have any book you'd recommend (either for young children, and above), please let me know!

KurtKohlstedt3 karma

We've definitely thought and talked about it, but my guess is we'll take a bit of a breather and wait until things settle a bit before talking more on this - we're both (Roman in particular) just so swamped right now!

It's hard to think very far out ahead ;)

Insane_Drako3 karma

I can definitely sympathize with that! If ever you consider the project at some point, you'll have a fan patiently waiting. Thanks for taking the time to answer, it's much appreciated!

KurtKohlstedt3 karma

For sure - I mean, half my brain says 'never again!' and the other half is 'full steam ahead' :D

slyquailqueen3 karma

Favorite building? Either as an architectural design, or as a place that has played a significant part of the events of life that have gone on there.

Been a fan for many years, proud owner of 3 Radiotopia challenge coins and a fierce reader of plaques :)

KurtKohlstedt6 karma

That's so hard, but I'm a big fan of the Midtown Exchange in Minneapolis - a great example of adaptive reuse. It was actually part of a story I pitched Roman before I even joined the show, and eventually wrote a 99pi article about.

springflingqueen3 karma

I absolutely love this podcast. My question if I haven't missed you: how are you able to make things that sound so mundane or boring so interesting? Every time I see a topic and think...ehhh...maybe I can skip this one, it ends up being so fascinating.

My personal favorite episode is the one about the Tel Aviv bus station. It really stuck with me.

KurtKohlstedt4 karma

For me, I'd say: I'm a nerd - I geek out about stuff - so sharing that enthusiasm is easy. For articles, I can just nerd around for a few paragraphs, but for episodes the other ingredient is characters - one of Emmett's stories comes to mind, where he had an idea, found really good character and ran with it. Welcome to Jurassic Art

mrpiman3 karma

Hey Roman and Kurt--Love the show and can't wait to read the book! What's a smell that you associate with your childhood?

KurtKohlstedt4 karma

Coincidentally: a book! More specifically, a book about the rainbow serpent. It was an Australian children's book (we lived there for a while when I was very young). I found it and cracked it open decades later and it was like being transported through time. Other than that: leaves - giant leaf piles in our yard in Cortland, New York.

rocketlemon3 karma

Do you feel like you have always had a unique way of looking at the world around you, or were there experiences in your past that opened your eyes to seeing the visible but not obvious things around us?

KurtKohlstedt6 karma

If one thing changed the way I look at the world more than anything else, it was taking drawing classes in college - you start literally seeing the world differently, its shades and shapes. It was transformative.

ThreePointsPhilly3 karma

Roman, love the pod. How do you think design will change because of COVID?

KurtKohlstedt7 karma

We actually went into this quite a bit with Lisa Gray in a Houston Chronicle interview last week!

bonkette3 karma

My 11 year old daughter is obsessed with your podcast so of course we bought the book. Any advice for the best way of using the book to help her discover new things about our town?

KurtKohlstedt4 karma

Wow, good question. I think the first two chapters are good for general orienting toward looking around and being aware of things that you're meant to notice (but don't think about) or generally overlook - they sort of lay out the framework with concrete examples and lots of illustrations, setting the stage for the rest of the book. As for specific entries: traffic lights, lane dividers, a whole section on synanthropes (animals that live in cities) are good potentially.

barnacledoor2 karma

Hey Kurt and Roman, you guys have my favorite podcast by far (though What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law is up there as well). What is one aspect of your daily life that you feel still needs some attention from a design perspective? I'm thinking something that is necessary to deal with, but always feels lacking.

KurtKohlstedt4 karma

I wrote an article about this group a while back that made parking spots for Bird and other electric scooters by basically spray-painting (with a stencil) them onto open areas. At least around here, scooters just end up in the middle of sidewalks, creating accessibility issues. They need dedicated parking!

sherebasy2 karma

Is sports in general a favorite topic of yours to cover when it comes to dissecting the design aspect of it? (Indirectly nudging you to cover more sports content as a sports fan myself)

KurtKohlstedt6 karma

It really depends on the producer - we all have different interests which makes for some good variety! Emmett, I would wager, is the most into sports - Chris is working on a sports-related story right now I believe as well. I am not much of a sports fan, but did an episode coda a while back about soccer balls :)

rocketlemon2 karma

Do you know whether the rules that determine how wide streets need to be or what type of traffic signals must be installed that are based on the density of the housing or commercial zoning in those areas?

KurtKohlstedt5 karma

Short answer: it varies! A lot of these are municipality-level decisions with different sets of rules.

ThreePointsPhilly1 karma

Have you ever been to Philadelphia? What’s your favorite building or part of the city?

KurtKohlstedt2 karma

City Hall by a landslide - it's even in my pinned tweet!

Last I checked it was also still the tallest masonry building in the world.

glitterlok1 karma

Why is your chuckle so soothing, Roman?

KurtKohlstedt2 karma

It is a mystery to us all :o

AwHellNaw1 karma

Are you a billionaire ?

KurtKohlstedt1 karma

I ... am not ... even close. I'll go out on a limb and say Roman isn't either, but he can correct me if I'm wrong.

AwHellNaw2 karma

Ok broke boi. I bought your book. I did my part.

KurtKohlstedt2 karma

Why thank you! :D

halffast1 karma

Which episode of 99PI do you think is the funniest?

KurtKohlstedt2 karma

Whomst Among Us Has Let The Dogs Out is pretty entertaining. Let's see ... Interrobang is pretty irreverent. Or maybe another piece by Joe that we featured before he was even on staff: The Mojave Phone Booth!