Rain, Architecture, Budweiser: What's Ruining Our Cities This Week

Why let all the big cities have all the gentrification, design battles, and corporate takeovers? This week we focus on the towns—including a famous temporary one in the desert, population 50,000. It's a small-city edition of What's Ruining Our Cities.

Rain ruined Black Rock City, Nevada

A freak rainstorm turned the Burning Man playa into a soggy, soupy mess at the beginning of the week, closing the festival for two days. Those already stuck inside complained of toilets overflowing due to lack of servicing, but everyone managed to keep their mushrooms dry and the roads reopened Tuesday. Meanwhile, Nick Bilton bemoans another element of Burning Man that's ruined: The event has become "gentrified" by baby tech billionaires who import servants (sorry, sherpas) and wall themselves off from the commoners with amenities like—gasp!—air conditioning to the desert. On a seriously sad note, however, a woman was killed by an art bus Thursday, the first reported death in seven years. [SF Chronicle, New York Times, SF Chronicle]

Architecture is ruining Park City, Utah

Oh, Park City. In many ways you are so progressive, what with your film festivals and your celebrities. But in other ways, well, you're just plain behind the times. We reported several months back that the city had rejected a proposal for a gorgeous log-cabin-esque performing art center designed by Bjarke Ingels and his firm BIG. Now we have a report that a second proposal, one that is a bit more restrained (and boring), has been rejected. The powers that be claim that the building just does not fit in with the historic structures around it. Where is Robert Redford when we need him? [Gizmodo, Dezeen]

Budweiser might ruin Crested Butte, Colorado

Another historic mountain town is also finding itself with a similar urban-planning conundrum. Crested Butte, Colorado has been selected as Budweiser's "Whatever" town, which means it will get $250,000 from the beer manufacturer to spruce up its performance venues and throw a few events. The catch? "In what event organizers are calling 'augmentations,' Elk Avenue and its lampposts are to be fenced off and painted Bud Light blue. Buskers will be performing amid pop-up bars up and down the avenue. Bands will play from a giant sound stage. A huge Twister game is on the agenda. Only Bud Light products will be served in downtown watering holes that are part of the goings-on." Residents turned out in droves to protest turning the town into Bro Disneyland, which is planned for the first weekend in September. [Denver Post]

Burners stranded in Reno stock up at Walmart. Photo by Cathleen Allison/AP