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The Meaning of Ghost Stations; Reconsidering Prison Design

Welcome to Curbed's new weekly roundup of architecture, real estate, and urban planning-related feature stories from, well, anywhere that isn't Curbed. We'll be collecting a few of our favorite longer stories of the week; please be in touch if you have a story to recommend.

1. London probably has more ghost stations—abandoned or never-opened subway stations—than any other city in the world. But cities from Paris to Barcelona to Philadelphia to Rochester to Cincinnati have them, too. Aside from their place in photo shoots, The Guardian wonders, what do ghost subway stations say about our cities?

With the rise of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and the prohibitive expense of new subway construction (with the exception, it seems, of China), you could interpret ghost stations as a sign of the inherent inflexibility of subway systems. Or you could say they're a product of the boom and bust cycles to which all cities are prone, especially in the American rust belt: cities like Cleveland and Rochester simply aren't as robust today as they were a century ago. 2. In 1912, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, employees of Frank Lloyd Wright, entered a competition to design the Australian capital city, Canberra. But the path from victory to construction was not a simple one, as Eleri Harris illustrates in comic form for Re-form. Even though government shenanigans derailed the Griffins' plans, they managed to leave a mark on Australian architecture.

3. Forty years after the publication of Robert Caro's The Power Broker, his famous biography of urban planner Robert Moses, several writers look back at the book's legacy and accuracy. At Salon, Henry Grabar analyzes critiques of the book:

But if Caro was wrong to think New York had died at Moses' hands, critics are no less short-sighted in thinking he gave it new life. They have fallen into the same trap as the many journalists who lauded Moses in the first place: They are in awe of his power. They are stuck in the contemporary urban political landscape, where subway stations are named for banks and cities must sell condominiums to build parks and libraries. Perhaps it's natural, in an era when a ban on 64-ounce sodas is what passes for municipal overreach, that we would come to idolize an urban planning superman. Their reflections, like Caro's original diagnosis, are a product of the times. The Daily Beast, meanwhile, has a look back at the writing of the book, a "seven-year ordeal" that "nearly bankrupted" its author.

4. Raphael Sperry, president of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, wants architects to stop designing spaces for solitary confinement. He explains his argument to Pacific Standard:

Sperry argues that the charter provisions of the AIA prohibit its members from violating human rights, which he interprets to mean the building of any spaces that clearly contravene human rights as defined by well-established international bodies. As he pointed out to me, architects wouldn't design a building without a fire stairwell due to concerns about the protection of human life. In his view, asking AIA member architects to agree not to disregard human rights norms is an extension of the same theory, that human life and wellness come first. · Recommended Reading archive [Curbed]