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National Geographic: The Latest Architecture and News

Laser Technology Uncovers the Surprising Size and Density of Hidden Mayan Cities

A new National Geographic documentary is set to reveal a newly discovered Mayan "Megalopolis" in what is being called a “major breakthrough” in Mayan history. Over 60,000 homes, infrastructure systems, and man-made features that were once hidden underneath the dense jungles of Guatemala are now being revealed to the world, painting a picture of ancient cities that were both much larger and much denser than previously thought.

Leonardo DiCaprio's "Before The Flood" Climate Change Documentary

Update: Unfortunately this free online viewing was only intended for a limited time and National Geographic has now removed the video. If you didn't catch the documentary in time, you can still watch it on DVD. In place of the full documentary, we have now included the trailer above.

As a group, architects are without question among the most enthusiastic supporters of sustainable initiatives around. It should therefore be welcome news to many architects that National Geographic has released its latest documentary on climate change, Before the Flood, for free on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter—pretty much everywhere.

Presented by Hollywood superstar and recently-appointed UN Climate Ambassador Leonardo DiCaprio, the documentary is perhaps the most ambitious film about climate change since Al Gore's 2006 An Inconvenient Truth. Throughout the course of the 90-minute film, DiCaprio travels the globe to see the damage wrought by the early signs of irreversible climate change, from melting glaciers, to dying coral reefs, to flooding cities. Speaking to world leaders including Barack Obama and The Pope, as well as a whole host of climate scientists, DiCaprio's aim is not so much to convince viewers of the existence of climate change, as with An Inconvenient Truth, but instead to investigate just how far down the wrong path we've traveled, and whether there is any hope for humanity to save itself.

A 6000-Year Old Unplanned Community Photographed From Above

Since time immemorial, and more recently, humans have wondered what the world looks like from above. This fascination has historically manifested in the plan drawing and aerial photography. In this vein, and using a motorized paraglider, National Geographic photographer George Steinmetz has captured a stunning bird’s-eye view of the ancient city of Ghadames, in Libya.

The New New York Skyline (Sunlight Not Included)

With New York's skyline on the rise, Fast Company says that there will no longer be sunlight on the streets of Manhattan by 2020 (unless you can afford a rooftop penthouse). Thirty-four skyscrapers 700-feet and taller are currently in-progress or being proposed, adding to 41 that already exist. This may seem like a lot, but as Fast Company also points out London has 230 new towers over 20 stories planned. See National Geographic's "The New New York Skyline" illustration for a closer look. 

The Race to Save Architecture in Myanmar's Biggest City

Preservationists are in a race to document and preserve some of Yangon’s most admired cultural icons. Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon is experiencing an all to familiar story: rapid development taking precedence over preservation. As the National Geographic reports, “Hulking monoliths of concrete and blue-plated glass are replacing fine old residential and government buildings…Although much has already been lost, many architecturally or esthetically significant structures have hung on. The question now is how long they will last.” Read the complete story, here.

How Did Filippo Brunelleschi Construct the World's Largest Masonry Dome?

More than 500 years after it was built, Filippo Brunelleschi's dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, remains the largest masonry dome ever built. Leaving no plans or sketches behind, some of the secrets of its construction that Brunelleschi pioneered are still an enigma today. This short animation, presented by National Geographic and created by Fernando Baptista and Matthew Twombly, gives an idea of how the dome of the Duomo might have been built. Demonstrating the complexity of the task, made harder due to poor construction prior to Brunelleschi's commission, this film serves as a reminder of just how long it can take to create something timeless.