Earliest Sketch of Abu Dhabi Includes Watchtowers

Cool to see the earliest-known map of Abu Dhabi — discovered in London’s National Maritime Museum! The map, which dates from 1859 and was sketched by Lt. RW Wish in the East India Company’s Indian Navy, shows watchtowers, which I’ve heard were across Abu Dhabi Island and Saadiyat Island, rather than just at Al Maqtaa Fort.

How and when were those additional towers destroyed?

Sketch titled ‘Aboothubbi’ by R W Whish 145 years ago.

Sketch titled ‘Aboothubbi’ by R W Whish 145 years ago. Courtesy National Maritime Museum via The National

“We know that the mid-19th century was a very turbulent time for the Baniyas and this image shows that Abu Dhabi was larger and better protected than we may have considered. This sketch documents not just Abu Dhabi’s emergence as a pearling centre in the Gulf but as a player on the world stage.” -Eric Langham, Co-Founder, Barker Langham.


Skyline Stories: Maps, dead malls, suburban sprawl, IM Pei ‘s T6 at JFK, Philly’s Race Street Pier and Paris.

Rethinking lots of things — how to map contemporary cities (Atlantic Cities), the single-family post-war suburban home for a more sustainable future. (NYT: Opinionator) and even how future cities could be built around airports aka aerotropolis? (Streetsblog). But sprawl continues (Tree Hugger) and Americans are becoming less mobile (USA Today).

Ryan Sullivan's alternative maps open up a new way of thinking about places. Image via Atlantic Cities.

It wouldn’t be suburbia without abandoned malls (Design Observer) and their cookie cutter cinemas. Thank you Cinema Treasures for archiving all sorts of cinemas (NYT), though I wish the UAE had some microcinemas (NYT).

New York’s Skyscraper Museum has an exhibit on supertall skyscrapers. (Design Observer) But if you can build it tall, why can’t you build on the moon yet? (Atlantic Cities) Can you see rooftop QR codes from space? (Mashable)

BMW-Guggenheim’s Urban Lab is in New York for now (BBC), and the Queens Museum has an urban lab exhibit too (QM), but that can’t stop IM Pei’s understated Terminal 6 at JFK from being torn down. City Room says it’s the city’s biggest architectural loss since Penn Station. (NYT City Room)

At least some things are preserved in New York — check out the wonderful WPA Art Deco murals in New York’s central post office (Scouting NY) and the breathtaking restoration of the Loew’s King in Brooklyn, slated to reopen in 2013. (Architect’s Newspaper).

The 1929 Loew's King is undergoing a $70 million restoration project, slated to reopen in 2013. Image via Architect's Newspaper.

Uptown in The Bronx, the city’s new affordable housing harkens back to human-scale development (NYT ArtsBeat), though it won’t bring back Louis Mattia’s former lamp shop (JVNY). Moment of online silence for East Village blogger Roy Arihood, who died this week. (Gothamist)

In Philly, the Race Street Pier connector opened, linking Old City to the Race Street Pier Park! (Philly.com) And the city is reinventing the Ben Franklin Parkway one small space at a time, this time with Sister Cities Plaza. (Philly.com) Center City District seems to be taking pages out of William Whyte’s seminal film/book “Social Life of Small Urban Spaces” (1979). (Atlantic Cities)

In Paris, car sharing arrived (Atlantic Cities) in Paris! The Cite de l’Architecture du Patrimoine celebrated its fourth anniversary (Batiactu) and the ambitious “Grand Paris” plan is going to involve a lot of debating with communities (Le Monde).

How could you ever want to live in the suburbs when you have these poetic videos of exiting metro stations in New York and Paris? (The Atlantic: Cities)