Redesigning New Orleans for flooding, new buildings in Williamsburg that don't suck, and a skyscraper in L.A. that will soon be the tallest west of Chicago. Plus: Google's urban expansion and dying department stores, all in this week's Urban Reads.

  • How New Orleans' new water plan will dramatically reshape the city's streets and canals to help mitigate flooding [Next City]
  • Department stores are dying and being reborn as churches, or integrated into housing projects [NPR]
  • A company in New York is using video feeds and security cameras to try to count all the city's pedestrians [Co.Exist]
  • An exhibition of urban smells: "At Urban Olfactory, an exhibition running at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association through March 31, you can breathe in the smells of Paris from 1738, the odors of a 12th-century citron harvest, the pungent aroma of the New Jersey Turnpike, and more." [Gizmodo]
  • Google bought a 35,000 square foot building in the Mission District of San Francisco to serve as a co-working space for the employees of startups they acquire who don't want to take the bus to the office in Silicon Valley [Business Insider]
  • Why gentrification is so hard to stop once it's put in motion [Atlantic Cities]
  • "With the price of land and construction ever rising, a vast majority of the numerous residential construction projects in Williamsburg over the past decade have been decidedly risk-averse in terms of design. Most developers have chosen the same loft-like, boxy, glass-and-steel look, creating could-be-anywhere streetscapes on formerly distinctive and gritty blocks." But there are some architectural bright spots in Williamsburg, believe it or not [New York Times]
  • A new supertall in Los Angeles set a record for the largest continuous concrete pour in the world over the weekend... [Gizmodo]
  • …making the Wilshire Grand the first major skyscraper to be built in the city for 20 years, and soon, the tallest building west of Chicago [Guardian Cities]

Opening image courtesy Reuben Wu—who you should be following on Instagram. Got an Instagram of your own you'd like us to use in our next link round-up? Tag it #gizmodocities and we'll be in touch if we want to post.