Speaking of Design
A Custom Fit for LA’s Expo Line
The Expo Line connects downtown Los Angeles to the beaches of Santa Monica. But the much-anticipated light rail expansion brought a need for a facility to clean, maintain and repair the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 45 light-rail vehicles. However, residents of Santa Monica weren’t too sure about building a rail maintenance facility right in the heart of the Pico neighborhood — inspiring designers to create much more than a cookie-cutter solution.
A New Source of Pride for the Richest Hill on Earth
Once known as the "richest hill on Earth" for its wealth of mineral deposits, Butte became the first major city in Montana thanks to the boom of copper mining. But early 20th century mining practices led to serious environmental consequences, including contaminated groundwater unfit to drink. The city’s new Basin Creek Water Treatment Plant has become a source of civic pride, showing off some of the flashiest technology in the drinking water industry. But on top of many engineering firsts, the facility’s story is rooted in Butte's rich history.
Building a Little Bridge with Big Hearts
Civil engineers and construction managers often find themselves building massive bridges and interchanges capable of moving millions of vehicles efficiently through growing metropolises. But a small American team took a break from that world, volunteering two weeks of their time to venture into the rainforest of Panama and build a much simpler structure — a footbridge across a river. Despite unique challenges from travel, weather and living conditions, these volunteers partnered on a Bridges to Prosperity project to connect a community to its schools, a hospital and markets across the river. And in the process, this group of engineers and constructors saw firsthand the difference their profession makes in people’s lives.
Kansas City, Here We Come! Hop Aboard the KC Streetcar
The people of Kansas City love the new KC Streetcar, and you’ll find the vehicles packed on a beautiful summer day. But the idea of building a modern streetcar faced questions and doubts from business owners and residents in a city without rail transit since the 1950s. To get the concept on the rails, the project team played had to educate, listen and collaborate to design a streetcar the community would support. The result? Today, many of those initial skeptics are singing its praises — in some cases literally.
Rebuilding a War-Torn Country with Hope
As U.S. forces drew down in Afghanistan, a new phase of counterinsurgency strategy took place. In support of the U.S. Department of Defense, an Air Force Civil Engineer Center program sought to strengthen Afghanistan’s national security by building new universities, government buildings, training sites, barracks, recruiting stations, air bases, roads, bridges and other facilities needed for the country’s security forces. However, for the American construction management team providing leadership, oversight and training, the program amounted to more than the facilities. It was about creating professional jobs for Afghans, boosting the economy and providing hope.
How a Storm Sewer Project Became an Urban Oasis
Just north of the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood had fallen into a state of disrepair. Described by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as “a barren expanse of cracked concrete, weeds and towering trees surviving against a background of neglect,” the area was filled with abandoned buildings and prone to sewer overflows. But rather than going forward with a typical storm sewer expansion, residents of the area saw an opportunity to solve the overflow problem with a solution that transformed the entire neighborhood.
Meet a Landfill That's Greener than Grass
When you think of landfills, you may not think of design. But like almost every type of engineering or architectural design, landfills have changed dramatically over the last 30 years. In the pilot episode of Speaking of Design, you’ll meet one engineer who’s taken landfill design to a new level, creating a source of renewable solar energy.
Meet the Team
Danny’s dad had a 40-year career as a newspaper editor, and his mom is a former college journalism instructor. So it’s no surprise that he strives to bring an independent journalistic voice to the stories he tells. As an avid listener of podcasts like Radio Lab, Freakonomics and Planet Money, Danny likes to find a way to relate technical subjects to a broad audience. He also likes to use pop culture analogies in his storytelling, some of which work better than others.
John comes from a background of visual storytelling, and conveniently has a voice made for radio. As a child, he used to experiment with some BASIC computer programming on his TI 99/4A computer, making his own games and designing cover art to go with them. He’s brings that same creativity to the podcast as the sound engineer, adding all the music, sound effects and transitions to bring our stories to life. However, he laments one thing about podcast production — he can’t enjoy his favorite podcasts while he’s busy editing his own.