Natural Disasters, Locks, Tires: What's Ruining Our Cities This Week

On this week's What's Ruining Our Cities: Locks are the key to Paris's downfall and tires are popping up in the most unexpected places in Detroit. Plus, a new exhibition is focused exclusively on ruined cities—and the designers that work to save them.

Designers are making sure disasters don't ruin cities

We talk a lot about all the things that are ruining cities, so it's high time that someone did something about it. In fact, designers and engineers are working every day to make sure cities become safer, healthier, and more resilient. A comprehensive survey of their solutions is featured in the exhibition Designing for Disaster, which will open next week at the National Building Museum in D.C. The exhibition is organized by element—Earth, Air, Fire, and Water—and includes some awe-inducing artifacts like a water-soaked door from Hurricane Katrina, singed opera glasses from Colorado's Waldo Canyon wildfire, even stone fragments from the nearby National Cathedral, damaged by the rare Mineral earthquake in 2011. [National Building Museum]

Locks are ruining Paris's bridges

You'll find the same thing on nearly every scenic bridge: padlocks inscribed with lovers' names, their keys tossed dramatically into the rivers below in a symbol of everlasting devotion. But the City of Love is now sagging under that weight. Locks on Parisian bridges are causing the metal panels to bend, requiring them to be replaced. But beyond the infrastructural improvements, the locks have become a flashpoint for local residents who see them as evidence that Paris has been lost to tourists. One woman has mounted a Facebook campaign to rid the Pont des Arts of lovers' locks. Another man put it far more bluntly: "It ruins one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris." [New York Times]

Tires are ruining Detroit houses

Vacant properties sadly become the dumping grounds for the detritus of urban dwellers. But in Detroit, some idiots have taken this concept to the next level: Someone is taking the time to fill entire abandoned houses with tires. Crews are currently excavating a dozen homes which are stacked with rubber, floor to ceiling, according to WXYZ: "Sameer Beydoun of Metro Property Group also showed up with crews who started pulling tires out of the abandoned homes and stacking them on the curb. It's created a wall of old tires up and down Mapleridge, and its only the start." [WXYZ]

Top image: After a March 1, 2007 tornado destroyed the high school in Enterprise, Alabama, taking the lives of eight students, state officials signed a law requiring safe rooms in new K-12 schools. AL.com/Press-Register, Mike Kittrell, via Designing for Disaster