BLDGBLOG (“building blog”) was launched in 2004 by Geoff Manaugh. In addition to this site, I’m the author of two books—the New York Times-bestselling A Burglar’s Guide to the City and The BLDGBLOG Book—and editor of a third, Landscape Futures: Instruments, Devices and Architectural Inventions. A Burglar’s Guide to the City was optioned for television by CBS Studios.
My writing has been published in The New York Times Magazine (including features about self-driving cars and the LAPD Air Support Division), The New Yorker (including a piece about the “ancient roads” of Vermont and a critique of the Hyperloop),The Atlantic, Cabinet Magazine, Popular Science, The Daily Beast, Domus, Travel + Leisure, New Scientist, and many others. My article for The Daily Beast about a former Los Angeles bank robber sent overseas to plot heists against al Qaeda is currently being adapted for film by Studio 8. I have also contributed essays to multiple books, exhibition catalogs, and artist monographs, including publications by photographers David Maisel, Bas Princen, and Michael Wolf; artist Ai Weiwei; and architects Philip Beesley and Bjarke Ingels.
In addition to writing, I frequently lecture on topics related to architecture, technology, and landscape at venues around the world, such as the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the Australian National Architecture Conference, Georgia Tech, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Architectural Association, the Bartlett School of Architecture, and the Bauhaus Universität in Weimar. Previously, I was senior editor of Dwell and a contributing editor at Wired UK; I am also former director of Studio-X NYC, an urban think tank and event space at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
My most recent book, A Burglar’s Guide to the City, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, explores the relationship between burglary and architecture. “Studying architecture the way a burglar would,” A Burglar’s Guide “takes readers through walls, down elevator shafts, into panic rooms, up to the buried vaults of banks, and out across the rooftops of an unsuspecting city.”
Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, calls the book “riveting”: “Manaugh excels at finding new, illicit, and fresh angles on a subject as loved as it is overexposed—the city. In his new book, elegant, perverse, sinuous supervillains maneuver and master the city like parkour champions. I see the TV series already.” Graphic novelist Warren Ellis describes it as “a marvelous wonder-room of a thing, an intricate, deeply researched, and brilliantly written mad scientist’s tour of crime and how it’s bound to the world we’ve built.” It was on the New York Times monthly bestseller list for crime for two months in a row, and was chosen by Amazon.com as one of the “Best Books of 2016.”
Read more at burglarsguide.com.
From 2015 to 2017, I served as a “Discovery Fellow” at the University of Southern California Libraries in Los Angeles. The fellowship included two exhibitions, one called L.A.T.B.D.—or “Los Angeles To Be Determined”—designed in collaboration with architects Smout Allen. L.A.T.B.D. combined elements of interactive game design, experimental architecture, and speculative fiction in order to model a series of possible futures for the city of Los Angeles.
The second exhibition, on display from October 2016 to February 2017, was “500 Years of Utopia,” an exploration of Thomas More’s canonical urban political fantasy, Utopia, on the 500-year anniversary of the book’s publication.
From 2012-2013, writer Nicola Twilley (who is also my wife) and I traveled around the United States for a project called Venue, sponsored by the Nevada Museum of Art. Venue was “a pop-up interview studio and multimedia rig” that we used as a kind of forward operating base for visiting people and places that in some way foreground the relationship between human activity and the American landscape. The resulting project included interviews with aerial photographers and astrobiologists, novelists and geologists, as well as tours of underground nuclear waste storage facilities, landfills, military bases, National Parks, iron mines, the U.S. national atomic clock, and much more. To date, Venue has been presented in exhibition form at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno and at SPUR in San Francisco.
In 2012, I curated an exhibition called Landscape Futures: Instruments, Devices and Architectural Inventions, looking at the intersection of digital technology and landscape design, for the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment. A catalog documenting the exhibition was later published by ACTAR and the Nevada Museum of Art, featuring work by architects Smout Allen, Liam Young, Lateral Office, and David Gissen, as well as texts and installation pieces by Chris Woebken, Kenichi Okada, and many others.
In 2010, in collaboration with Nicola Twilley, I curated an exhibition about the spatial implications of quarantine for New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture. Called Landscapes of Quarantine, that group exhibition featured work by photographer Richard Mosse, MacArthur Award-winning set designer Mimi Lien, graphic designer Amanda Spielman, artists Katie Holten, Joe Alterio, and Smudge Studio, writer Scott Geiger, game designer Kevin Slavin, architects Jeffrey Inaba, Front Studio, Brian Slocum, and more. Nicola and I later wrote a short piece about the politics of quarantine for The New Yorker.
In 2009, Chronicle Books published The BLDGBLOG Book. It was chosen by Amazon.com as one of the 100 “Best Books of 2009.” Wired described it as a “long-form riff” on topics such as “Soviet sleep labs, sound-sensitive rice genes, transborder mazes, and the life of a sewer-spelunker. [Manaugh’s] energy and imagination make him an excellent tour guide… By pondering how humans shape the environment with, say, fiction or film, he turns his enthusiasm into our own.” The Guardian wrote that the book “has a truly Wellsian ability to conjure up the structures and spaces of the future.” From flooded cities to the legacy of Archigram, the book both collects and expands on many existing posts here on the blog.
I have also taught design studios in both the United States and Australia on topics ranging from blackouts to the future of cinema, from geoengineering to the possibility of a San Andreas Fault National Park.
I run a sleepy Twitter feed, I post occasional photos on Instagram, and I am on LinkedIn. The opinions I express online are my own; they do not reflect the views of my friends, family, editors, employers, publishers, or colleagues, with whom neither this blog nor my social media activity is in any way affiliated.