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North Star Podcast

Jan 25, 2018


Today’s guest is Geoff Manaugh, who explores the intersection of architecture, technology, and landscapes. As a professor, he’s taught classes in both the United States and in Australia on topics such as blackouts, the future of cinema, geo-engineering, and the possibility of a San Andreas fault national park.

In the episode, we talk about how the geography of Los Angeles influences bank heists, the new subterranean structures in Singapore and Hong Kong, caves, and how technology is changing architecture.

This conversation will have you exploring new ideas, underground tunnels, sneaking through subway systems, and using blueprints to escape a prison. You can find Geoff online at his blog, BLDGBLOG.

“All of the buildings that we interact with every day tend to be completely overlooked and treated as something that isn’t even worth discussing, and yet that’s where we spend most of our lives.”

“The real world is so much more interesting than people think it is. There’s no reason to be bored — the world is cooler and more futuristic than you might think.”


Find Geoff online:

Mentioned in the show:

Books mentioned:

People mentioned:

Show Topics

1:53 - Introduction to Geoff and discussion on how he got into the architectural field.

3:15 - Diving into anthropology, ancient civilizations, and Geoff’s interest in both ancient structures and architecture.

5:10 - Some discussion on our current architecture and some speculation on us often being surrounded by a built environment. “All of the buildings that we interact with every day tend to be completely overlooked and treated as something that isn’t even worth discussing, and yet that’s where we spend most of our lives.”

7:50 - Discussing how the infrastructure and landscape of a city influence heists and crime. How our environment is much less passive than we think, and how it actively plays a role in influencing the way that we think and what we do.

11:12 - Figuring out how police view a city, taking advantage of various get-away routes, and the grey-areas often found in get-away routes.

12:55 - How burglars think differently about underground structures. Some discussion on tunneling and its relation to different types of landscapes under a city (sandy soil, bedrock, etc).

16:03 - How advances in technology influence architecture, security in the architectural world, and land boundaries.

18:55 - Speculating how well burglars actually know the building that they’re breaking into, how to easily find out the blueprints for a place, and discussion on burglars exploiting vulnerabilities within cities.

23:32 - How Geoff managed to get in touch with several burglars and learn from them. Also, how we unconsciously act like burglars in our lives.

28:19 - The emerging aspect of digital burglary and some discussion on this, as well as a bit on cryptocurrencies and investments. Also, thoughts on the actual definition of burglary and its relation to architecture.

32:14 - Discussing graffiti artists, people riskily exploring of architecture, and a bit on how we pay for city infrastructures, but yet we aren’t allowed to visit some of them.

34:35 - Geoff explaining various subterranean structures, caves, and underground tunnels. Also, how Singapore has begun to excavate outwards beneath the ocean for storage and other uses, architects designing artificial caves, Hong Kong’s future plans with underground infrastructures, and the powerful sense of awe that we can attain from architecture.

41:54 - Further discussion on the many things that we see, but do not consciously appreciate or really notice. Also, a bit of talk on the mysterious places left behind due to architecture evolving.

43:55 - The future of cities and architecture, and what Geoff is most excited about within these fields. The huge possibilities of technology merging with architecture. Also, a bit on quarantining people, isolating people, and relating both of these to architecture.

47:52 - Discussion on the architectural way of thinking and being efficient as a writer.

49:39 - Geoff’s connection to cinema and his perspective on cinema. A bit on what he’s done for cinema as an architect, as well.

51:12 - What has surprised Geoff while working in the television industry about bringing his book into the media network. Also, Geoff’s thoughts on transferring abstract ideas into a filmable scene.

Hey again, it’s David here one more time. You can support the North Star Podcast by leaving us a review on iTunes. Or you can share the podcast on Twitter or Facebook.

To listen to other episodes or learn more about the North Star, you can connect with me directly at and you can always reach out on Twitter at david_perell. And if you enjoyed this episode, you’ll like the episode with Eugene Wei, a film editor who has worked in some of the worlds largest tech companies, as well as directly under Jeff Bezos. We discuss merging media with technology, company building, his lessons from Bezos, and more.