99% Invisible

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Synopsis

Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars. Learn more at 99percentinvisible.org. A proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.

Episodes

  • 503- Re:peat

    10/08/2022 Duration: 40min

    A few years back, 99pi producer Emmett FitzGerald brought us a beautiful story about peat bogs. Peat is essential for biodiversity and for the climate – it is really, really good at storing carbon. But like a lot of things we cover on the show, peat often goes unnoticed, in part because it is literally out of sight underground. We’ve  noticed peat and carbon sequestration more and more in the news lately. Journalists have been brilliantly covering stories about the tree planting movement, private ownership of Scotland’s bogs, and the threat to peat in the Congo Basin. Couple that with more extreme weather happening in more places, we thought it would be a good idea to repeat this story.For the Love of Peat

  • 502- 99% Vernacular: Volume 3

    03/08/2022 Duration: 34min

    In the final episode of our vernacular spectacular anniversary series, 99pi producers and friends of the show will be sharing more stories of regional architecture–some close to home, some on remote islands– that capture our imagination and inspire us to look deeper.  Stories of Bermuda roofs, Queen Anne Cottages, and what exactly counts as an "earth tone."99% Vernacular: Volume 3  

  • 501- 99% Vernacular: Volume 2

    26/07/2022 Duration: 30min

    Only a small percentage of architecture is actually designed by architects. And while a famous architect-designed tower in a skyline might be the best way to identify a city at a distance, up close it’s the subtle cues and vernacular design that make the city what it is. This week, 99pi producers and friends of the show share more stories about architecture we love from our hometowns and other places we've lived, but with an emphasis on examples that may be a bit shaggier, and have somewhat more functional origins. These may not be the first things people call beautiful, but they’re beautiful to us, and they are essential parts of the places they’re built.501- 99% Vernacular: Volume 2

  • 500- 99% Vernacular: Volume 1

    19/07/2022 Duration: 33min

    For the 500th episode of 99% Invisible, we started thinking about the kinds of designs that we love from the places we have lived -- and even some regional vernacular we love from places we haven’t lived, but just admire. 99% Invisible is all about who we are through the lens of the things we build. We often tell stories about how people shape the built world, but these are more about how the built world has shaped us.99% Vernacular: Volume 1

  • 499- Say Aloe to My Little Frond

    12/07/2022 Duration: 39min

    Houseplants are having a moment right now. In 2020, 66% of people in the US owned at least one plant, and sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Meanwhile, Instagram accounts like House Plant Club have a million followers. Over the past decade there has been a steady stream of think pieces offering explanations for the emergence of this new obsession. But while millennials may have perfected the art of plant parenting, this is not the first time people have gotten completely obsessed with houseplants. Journalist Anne Helen Petersen digs into the history of domesticated plants in a series of articles on her Substack, Culture Study, and joins us to talk about what she's found.Say Aloe to My Little Frond

  • 498- The Octagon House

    05/07/2022 Duration: 43min

    99% Invisible producer emeritus Avery Trufelman traveled from New York to San Francisco recently, and took host Roman Mars to see an unusually shaped old building on the west side of the Bay. As it turns out, this peculiar octagonal home isn't unique -- there was a whole architectural fad of building these back in the mid 1800s, tapping into a parallel trend: self-improvement.Publisher Orson Fowler (most famous for being a phrenologist) used his professional position to self-publish a book about the many benefits, health and otherwise, of living in an octagonal home. His book, Octagon House: A Home For All, became a sensation. In its wake, hundreds of octagon houses started popping up all over the country.The Octagon House

  • 497- Hometown Village

    28/06/2022 Duration: 37min

    Sakhalin is a long, skinny island east of Russia's mainland. Russia and Japan have long fought over the territory, which has left the ethnic Koreans who came to work on the island starting in the early 1900s in a kind of limbo. Tatyana Kim, a native of Sakhalin, guides us through its unusual history and the difficulties of a repatriation that is long overdue.Hometown Village 

  • 496- The Rights of Rice and Future of Nature

    21/06/2022 Duration: 44min

    The Ojibwe name for wild rice is Manoomin, which translates to “the good berry.” The scientific name is Zizania palustris. It’s the only grain indigenous to North America, and while it might be called rice, it’s actually not closely related to brown or white rice at all. It has long played an important role in Ojibwe cultures, but last year, Manoomin took on a new role: plaintiff in a court case. Last August, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was sued by wild rice. The case of Manoomin v Minnesota Department of Natural Resources alleges that the Minnesota DNR infringed on the wild rice’s right to live and thrive. But can wild rice sue a state agency? The short answer is: yes. This is the story about what might happen if rice wins.The Rights of Rice and Future of NatureSupport for this episode was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation. RWJF is working to build a culture of health that ensures everyone i

  • 495- Meet Us by the Fountain

    14/06/2022 Duration: 35min

    No teenager in America in the 1980s could avoid the gravitational pull of the mall, not even author Alexandra Lange. In her new book, Meet Me by the Fountain, Lange writes about how malls were conceptually born out of a lack of space for people to convene in American suburbs. Despite the fact indoor shopping malls are no longer in their heyday, malls have not gone away completely. Lange writes about the history of mall culture, and how the mall became a ubiquitous part of American life.Meet Us by the Fountain

  • 494- Flag Days: Unfolding a Moment

    07/06/2022 Duration: 31min

    Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. At least, that's what we were taught in school. But when historians go searching…there’s no proof to be found. In this collaboration with the podcast Sidedoor, we unravel this vexillological tall tale to find out how this myth got started, and who Betsy Ross really was.Plus we talk about the real flag that inspired the song, The Star Spangled Banner.Flag Days: Unfolding a Moment 

  • 493- Divining Provenance

    01/06/2022 Duration: 32min

    Priceless cultural artifacts have been plundered and sold for hundreds of years. You can find these relics in museums and in private collections. In recent years, with the advent of online marketplaces, researchers have begun to find a lot of artifacts for sale on the web.The Syrian War has resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties. Not to mention, hundreds of billions in damages. And that battle has played out on land considered to be the cradle of civilization -- a place rich with layers of archeological history.Producer Zeina Dowidar and her team on the Kerning Cultures podcast tell stories about the Middle East and North Africa. For this episode, they took a comprehensive, inside look at how one country struggled to retain its cultural heritage in the midst of a brutal conflict.Divining ProvenancePlus we have an interview and preview of the podcast Real Good

  • 492- Inheriting Froebel's Gifts

    24/05/2022 Duration: 32min

    In the late 1700s, a young man named Friedrich Froebel was on track to become an architect when a friend convinced him to pursue a path toward education instead. And in changing course, Froebel arguably ended up having more influence on the world of architecture and design than any single architect -- all because Friedrich Froebel created kindergarten.Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, John, was an architect, but his most famous creation wasn’t a building. It was a toy set that kids have been playing with for over 100 years. Inheriting Froebel's Gifts

  • 491- The Missing Middle

    18/05/2022 Duration: 37min

    Downtown Toronto has a dense core of tall, glassy buildings along the waterfront of Lake Ontario. Outside of that, lots short single family homes sprawl out in every direction. Residents looking for something in between an expensive house and a condo in a tall, generic tower struggle to find places to live. There just aren’t a lot of these mid-sized rental buildings in the city.And it's not just Toronto -- a similar architectural void can be found in many other North American cities, like Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston and Vancouver. And this is a big concern for urban planners -- so big, there's a term for it. The "missing middle." That moniker can be confusing, because it's not directly about middle class housing -- rather, it's about a specific range of building sizes and typologies, including: duplexes, triplexes, courtyard buildings, multi-story apartment complexes, the list goes on. Buildings like these have an outsized effect on cities, and cities without enough of these kinds of buildings often suffer f

  • 490- Train Set

    10/05/2022 Duration: 32min

    The greatest mode of transportation is the funicular, which is a special kind of train pulled by a cable that runs up steep slopes. But trains are great even when they're not going up treacherous terrain. And in that spirit: here are some of the most ambitious, fascinating, and downright crazy trains that the world has ever seen.Train Set

  • Roman Mars on Blank Check with Griffin and David

    06/05/2022 Duration: 02h17min

    Bonus episode: Roman Mars on Blank Check with Griffin and David talking about The Quick and The Dead (Sam Raimi, 1995)Roman note: I LOVE this show!  Many of us on the 99pi staff are huge fans and follow it religiously. If you've never heard or it, search through to find a director you like and listen to a whole series. You'll be hooked.Not just another bad movie podcast, Blank Check with Griffin & David reviews directors' complete filmographies episode to episode. Specifically, the auteurs whose early successes afforded them the rare ‘blank check’ from Hollywood to produce passion projects. Each new miniseries, hosts Griffin Newman and David Sims delve into the works of film’s most outsized personalities in painstakingly hilarious detail.Subscribe! It will make you happy! Apple, Stitcher, Spotify

  • 489- Pandemic Tracking and the Future of Data

    04/05/2022 Duration: 58min

    Data is the lifeblood of public health, and has been since the beginning of the field. But essential data gathering for the COVID pandemic was hindered by a couple of of underlying weakness in the US public health apparatus. We have a fractured system where the power lies in US states that don't always coordinate effectively. Also there has been inconsistent funding. When there was an immediate crisis, there would be an infusion of cash. But then, when the crisis passed, the resources would evaporate. We take a look at data gathering in regards to public health from the 1600s to today and how it might change in the future.Support for this episode was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation. RWJF is working to build a culture of health that ensures everyone in the United States has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. If you have a hunch about how changes to

  • 488- It’s a Small Aisle After All

    26/04/2022 Duration: 36min

    If you’ve ever been to a supermarket in the US, you’ve probably seen an ethnic food aisle. Maybe it was called the "international aisle," or "world foods," but it was the same idea. This is the “It’s A Small World After All” part of the shopping experience. It’s where you’ll find ramen next to coconut milk, next to plantain chips next to harissa. Although ethnic aisles look different in every supermarket, they’re often variations on the same theme. And while so-called “ethnic food brands” get a chance to feed the American masses, they’re still confined to the ethnic aisle. And they may never leave.It's a Small Aisle After All 

  • 487- Atlas Obscura

    20/04/2022 Duration: 45min

    Standing on Beechey island, a peninsula off Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic, are four lonely graves: three members of an ill-fated expedition to the Northwest Passage, and one of the men who went looking for them. In 1845, Sir John Franklin led an expedition to find the Northwest Passage, a direct route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean across the arctic, on two ships that were called "unstoppable" at the time. They were stopped, though the exact circumstances remain murky.The story of the graves is chronicled on the Atlas Obscura Podcast, a short, daily celebration of the world's strange and wondrous places. The podcast has a mission similar to 99pi, which is to inspire wonder and curiosity about the world.  Today we're featuring two stories from the show.The second story visits the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama, which bills itself as "the nation's only retailer of lost luggage." If you've ever lost a bag during air travel, it probably wound up there, along with many other tr

  • 486- Rumble Strip

    13/04/2022 Duration: 47min

    Every year in the spring, small towns throughout New England host their annual town meeting. Town meetings take place in high school gyms or town halls, and anyone can come. In fact, in Vermont, Town Meeting Day is a public holiday. Everyone gets the day off work to make sure they have the chance to participate. It’s a moment when everyone who lives there can come together to talk out the issues facing the town and decide how they want to spend their money.Radio producer Erica Heilman lives in Vermont and is the host of a  jewel of a podcast called Rumble Strip. It’s ostensibly all about life in Vermont, but it may just also be about life in general.

  • 485- Murder Most Fowl

    05/04/2022 Duration: 27min

    While urban parks are safe havens for birds, parks are often surrounded by condos and hotels and office buildings with floor-to-ceiling windows. And these all-glass building facades are the absolute worst for migrating birds. Because unlike people, birds don’t really understand glass.It’s believed that building collisions are one of the biggest causes of bird death. Birds crash into buildings during the day because they don’t see the glass, and they run into buildings at night because they are lured in by artificial lighting. Most of these collisions happen below 100 feet, because that’s where birds are used to landing in trees.Murder Most Fowl

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