The steam generation building at Indiana's Marble Hill Nuclear Power Station, during demolition in 2010.
Last summer, I visited the wreckage of the never-finished Marble Hill Nuclear Power Station, in rural Indiana, in the midst of being demolished more than twenty five years after it had been cancelled. What I saw, and photographed, was an incredibly unusual view into a technology and a physical infrastructure that we rarely are allowed to see, much less to become familiar with as a real, physical thing. This is the first in what will be an ongoing series of articles and photographs revealing the physical remnants of America's history of failed nuclear power projects. Read More
The author, atop a crane in Block 3 of City Place Toronto, west of the Skydome and CN Tower complex, in the summer of 2005.
A new attraction called EdgeWalk will be premiering later this summer at Toronto's CN Tower. On offer will be the opportunity to leave the safe confines of its concrete and steel structure and walk to the edge of the tower's main pod. There are a host of reasons that the unveiling of EdgeWalk shouldn't surprise us, but the reality is that people have been exploring the possibilities of a vertical Toronto for years now, without minders and stunt gear. This article considers the attraction and value of EdgeWalk, and of unsanctioned experiences that are already providing new views and footholds on the city. Read More
Map showing projected (in 1985) daily maximum flows through the Metro Toronto Water Distribution System. Today, roughly 7-10% ends up leaking out of the system.
This is the second in a series of articles discussing pressurized urban utility networks, elaborating further on an aspect of municipal water distribution networks that has been largely neglected outside of the technical literature of civil engineers: leakage. Municipal distribution systems are constantly depositing water into the soil and sub-soil that surrounds them, making an unavoidable and potentially highly significant contribution to the hydrogeology of the city. Read More
The above diagram shows water main connections at Toronto's High Level Pumping Station as they were in 1988. Rather than a simple, gridded system, water distribution mains conform to the location of plants, pumps and reservoirs, as well as the dictates of history and topology.
Watermains. The word can only invoke visions of puddled intersections, flooded basements and construction equipment. We haven't been given the opportunity to think about the system when its presence in our lives isn't mediated by disruption and catastrophe. The water distribution system, despite our visions of its anonymous ubiquity, is a distinctive and sometimes disorderly component in the city's fabric, and one worth exploring as more than just piping. The first in an ongoing discussion of the place of pressurized infrastructure systems in the urban landscape: drinking water systems, gas lines, and district heating systems. Read More
The City of Calgary and art firm Sans façon have just published the organizational manual for an innovative new project meant to bolster public involvement in urban infrastructure.
In Calgary, a new chapter is about to be written in the public experience of urban water and wastewater. The City of Calgary's Utilities and Environmental Protection (UEP) department and art firm Sans façon's have crafted an innovative plan to merge public infrastructure and public consciousness. Is this the beginning of a reversal of North America's century-long withdrawal of infrastructure from the realm and imagination of the public? Read More
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Michael Cook is available to speak to your organization about infrastructure history, lost creeks, current conditions, and opportunities for change in our management of and communication about urban watersheds, and to work with teams proposing or implementing such change. Get in touch.