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 <a href="http://99percentinvisible.org">99percentinvisible.org</a>.<br/> A proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at <a href="http://radiotopia.fm/">radiotopia.fm</a>.
June 3rd, 2011
Episode 30 of 291 episodes
There are rules that dicate what you can build and how. Rules of physics and rules of men who sit on various bureaucratic boards and bodies. These rules dictated that if silk magnate John Noble Stearns wanted to build one of those ten story towers that were all the rage in 1888, on his 22 foot wide lot, he would need to build walls of stone and brick that were 5 feet thick. With tiny windows. Which left room for an interior that was only 11 feet wide. Slice off a few feet for a hallway. A few for a bathroom.A couple for a coat closet. Another for some filing cabinets and an umbrella stand. And he would be asking his well heeled tenants to work in a dark cell better suited to monks illuminating manuscripts. Stearns asked the best architects in the northeast for a solution. They all told him it couldn’t be done. Everyone except Bradford Gilbert. This week’s episode is an original commission, produced by Nate Dimeo from the memory palace.