Elevators in North America have become over-engineered, bespoke, handcrafted and expensive pieces of equipment that are unaffordable in all the places where they are most needed. Special interests here have run wild with an outdated, inefficient, overregulated system. Accessibility rules miss the forest for the trees. Our broken immigration system cannot supply the labor that the construction industry desperately needs. Regulators distrust global best practices and our construction rules are so heavily oriented toward single-family housing that we've forgotten the basics of how a city should work. Similar themes explain everything from our stalled high-speed rail development to why it's so hard to find someone to fix a toilet or shower. It's become hard to shake the feeling that America has simply lost the capacity to build things in the real world, outside of an app. ... America has grown extraordinarily rich from white-collar industries like software engineering and finance. But with "email job" couples earning well into the six digits now struggling to afford to live in many American cities, we are bumping up against the limits of what quality of life an economy built on apps can provide. Software and financial engineers can't make my apartment building accessible, so at some point we must relearn how to build things in the real world. Maybe the elevator can teach us how.

Comments: Be the first to add a comment

add a comment | go to forum thread