Chaohu city in China has been canceled. It wasn’t a small city. In fact the population of more than 4 million is comparable to Los Angeles, the Phoenix metro area, and the whole of South Carolina, but that is now irrelevant data, since Chaohu's official city status was annihilated on August 22. Although buildings and inhabitants remain as proof of a once-coherent city plan and living organism, the land has since been divided into three parts and absorbed by its neighbors, Hefei, Wuhu and Ma'anshan. Situated in eastern China’s Anhui province, about 200 miles west of Shanghai, the idea was to strip the dead wood and make the surrounding cities more competitive, which, unlike the former Chaohu, are rapidly industrializing and urbanizing. In a recent interview for NPR, economics professor Jiang Sanliang from Anhui University explained: "Chaohu's development hasn't been good, but Hefei … needs land, so absorbing Chaohu will benefit Hefei. The government hopes that redistributing the land will improve the entire province's GDP," he says. It turns out, according to this report, Hefei’s average growth of 17 percent was enough of a reason to dissolve an entire city. Though it is an unusual scenario, there are some benefits to the new divisions. For years the city’s namesake, Lake Chaohu, has been undergoing an intensive clean-up effort to meet the countrywide agenda to cleanse its badly polluted lakes. In the new arrangement the lake falls under Hefei’s administration and has more chance of getting the funding it needs to meet the Government’s 2030 deadline. However, there is no doubt that the move is at odds with other city-planning approaches in China; in August we reported on a new kind of utopia in Chengdu. Designed by a New York architect and local developer, it was one that aimed to foster connections and strengthen communities rather than amalgamate and alienate them. Indeed, instead of public consultation and even public announcement many inhabitants of the former Chaohu learnt about its abolishment from local news on the morning it happened; the striking off happened overnight. No ceremony. No funeral. No Chaohu.
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Perhaps we were too busy checking out the jaw-dropping FLW retrospective at the aforementioned museum to notice, but two weeks ago, LEGO and the Wright Foundation announced they would launch two new, rather amazing sets to honor the architect's centennial, part of a new Architecture line your LEGO-obsessed editors were heretofore also ignorant of. Created with former architect Adam Reed Tucker (he's done some amazing stuff with LEGOs) and his company Brickstructure, the Wright models can be purchased on his site, as well as ones for the Sears Tower, John Hancock Building, Seattle Space Needle, and Empire State Building, can be purchased here. The Guggenheim costs $40 plus shipping and handling, and Falling Water should run $100 when it goes on sale. It's a pretty good deal, given the detail Tucker put into his work, as he told NPR's All Things Considered
"That one's actually interactive," Tucker says. "It actually comes apart in a puzzlelike formation so you can get into the guts of the building and see the levels, understand his use of cantilever and how the forms play together." The Lego version of the building can even be lifted off its base. "What's neat about that is people can actually see how the foundation of a structure is rooted into the environment," Tucker says.Really, though, you have to go listen to the audio, as the fine folks at public radio also put together a mock ad for the new LEGO line. Because really, there's noting like hearing a radio announcer declare, "Kids are going crazy over Usonian homes and organic architecture!"