I am a Los Angeles-based freelance writer, covering topics related to cities, design, crime, infrastructure, technology, and more for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Guardian, New Scientist, Cabinet Magazine, The Daily Beast, Wired, Wired UK, and many other publications. I am also the co-author, with journalist Nicola Twilley, of Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine (2021, MCD Books), and, in 2016, I published A Burglar’s Guide to the City (FSG Originals), on the relationship between crime and architecture.
Until Proven Safe has been called “exceptionally powerful” by The Wall Street Journal, “compelling” by The New Yorker, and “an engrossing, entertaining, timely, and important book” by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it “riveting and timely,” and journalist Steve Silberman says it is “the book of our historical moment.”
A Burglar’s Guide to the City was a New York Times-bestseller for two consecutive months, and, in 2016, was optioned for television by CBS Studios. According to Amazon.com, A Burglar’s Guide was one of their “Best Books of 2016.”
My ghost story “Ernest,” published by VICE in October 2017, is currently in production as a feature film for Netflix, with Christopher Landon directing from his own adapted screenplay; David Harbour, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Anthony Mackie, Tig Notaro, Jennifer Coolidge, Niles Fitch, Erica Ash, and many others star. My October 2018 horror story “Summerland,” also published by VICE, was optioned for film, as well, with news of its production forthcoming.
In 2016, my feature for The Daily Beast about a Los Angeles bank robber allegedly sent overseas to plot heists against al Qaeda was optioned for development as a feature film by Sony Pictures’ Studio 8. My 2017 profile of an experimental intelligence-gathering unit at the Los Angeles International Airport, published by The Atlantic, was optioned for development by Lionsgate Television.
Since 2004, I have been the author of BLDGBLOG (“building blog”), a website exploring architecture and the built environment through a lens of technology, literature, crime, history, archaeology, acoustics, science fiction, warfare, subterranean space, the planetary sciences, and more.
In 2009, The BLDGBLOG Book, based on the blog, was published by Chronicle Books; it was also chosen by Amazon.com as one of their “Best Books of 2009.”
I’m also the former co-director of Studio-X NYC, an off-campus event space and urban futures think tank run by the architecture department at Columbia University, and I have been the Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo (2013-2014), a Contributing Editor of Wired UK (2009-2013), and a Senior Editor of Dwell (2007-2009).
My design collaborations with the London-based architectural practice Smout Allen have been exhibited at the 2014 Venice Biennale of Architecture, the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial, the University of Southern California, and the 2020—delayed by COVID-19 to 2021—Venice Biennale of Architecture.
I have taught graduate architectural design studios at Columbia University (2010-2013), the University of California–Berkeley (2018-2019), the University of Southern California (2010), and SCI-Arc (2017), and I have lectured at venues and events around the world, including the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Australian National Architecture Conference, the Bartlett School of Architecture, the Bauhaus Universität, the University of Pennsylvania, Google SPAN, the Strelka Institute, MIT, the Long Now Foundation, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, among many others.
I can be contacted via the name of my blog (BLDGBLOG) at gmail dot com.
[All images courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress, with the exception of the fault map, which is courtesy of the California Division of Mines and Geology.]