The movement of goods

What does the increasing demand for instant consumer satisfaction mean for climate change, land use, and labor?

December 18, 2018

Recorded on November 3, 2018.

Climate change and economic inequality pose immense and inextricable challenges to the United States: How to reimagine the American way of life to address the impacts of global warming, and how to build a new and robust economic structure that offers viable and sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles across the income spectrum for all Americans.

The Five Thousand Pound Life—an Architectural League initiative of public events, digital publications, and a planned design study—is a contribution to what must be a collective effort spanning geographies, generations, occupations, disciplines, and ideologies to address these challenges.

We have become a society that wants what we want when we want it, delivered directly to us. How is the possibility of and demand for immediate consumer gratification reverberating backwards through the processes and infrastructure that make it possible? What do this demand, and other simultaneous developments, including autonomous trucking and robotic distribution systems, mean for labor, land use, traffic congestion, and greenhouse gas emissions?

In this video, which was recorded during a daylong conference focused on ground transportation and climate change, Steve Viscelli examines possible scenarios for how goods will move in the future and the critical necessity for good public policy to shape outcomes. Adam Lomasney discusses FreightNYC, New York City’s plan to decarbonize and make more efficient the movement of goods in the city.

Logistics scholar and designer Jesse LeCavalier introduces Viscelli and Lomasney.


Jesse LeCavalier is a designer, writer, and educator whose work explores the architectural and urban implications of contemporary logistics. He is the author of The Rule of Logistics: Walmart and the Architecture of Fulfillment (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). He is assistant professor of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Daniel Rose Visiting Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Architecture.

Adam Lomasney is a senior project manager at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where he works on transportation logistics and industrial and economic competitiveness. Previously he was deputy director of the Supply Chain Innovation Network of Chicago, a non-profit organization and initiative of World Business Chicago that advocates for improved freight infrastructure in the Chicago metropolitan region in order to increase Chicago’s importance as a supply chain hub.

Steve Viscelli is an economic and political sociologist who studies inequality, organizations, work and labor markets. His primary research focuses on how state policy and informal labor market institutions shape the behavior of workers and firms. His last project, which examined the effects of deregulation on class relations and the labor process in the trucking industry, culminated in a recently released book, The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream. His current research is on the “gig economy,” specifically the ride-sharing businesses of Uber and Lyft.