Visions of 2030: Bikes, BRT and Other Stuff We Have Now

A review of the Our Cities Ourselves at the Center for Architecture in New York, which features ten proposals to create better cities by 2030.

Bicycles and transit were a prominent theme in all the designs, which were much less futuristic. That slant was by design- architects were asked to meet ten principles of sustainable transportation drafted by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. The principles include "such unobjectionable (and by now somewhat obvious) ideas as 24/7 mixed-use development, pedestrian-scaled streets, buying locally, more bikes, and more buses."

Alexandra Lange at The Architect's Newspaper says, "What was also disconcerting is the sameness of the strategies."

Full Story: Review> Next Exit for Transportation's Future



What does she expect--flying cars and jetpacks?

I would urge Alexandra Lange to do a comparative analysis of the prognostications proposed in various "cities of the future" conceptual plans with how those cities eventually developed and evolved over time. And, in this comparison, examine how the technologically-deterministic mania inherent in these visions inspired the nightmare of 20th century architecture and urban design built for and around the automobile. For example, take a fresh look at the Futurama exhibit from the 1939 New York World's Fair designed by Norman Bel Geddes and track the stupidity of that vision forward. She may find that the current visions she bemoans are a direct reaction to this kind of auto-centrism and technological determinism. In the Visions of 2030 designs with bikes, BRT, and "other stuff we have now," it is refreshing to see people with a vision that liberates us from the worship of the car. It is refreshing to see designers put forth a vision that doesn't have to be self-consciously avant-garde. Also, it is refreshing to see a vision that recognizes what we have learned from the past and present (successes and mistakes) so that we can carry that into the future, rather than making a showy, self-serving, break with common sense in support of one's ego or the automobile or oil industry, which wants more of the same--expensive, goofy-looking, bunker-like infrastructure that consumes massive amounts of energy and encases people in carnival rides for transport.

Brand new! Urban Grid City Collection

Each city has its own unique story. Commemorate where you came from or where you want to go.
Grids and Guide Red book cover

Grids & Guides

A notebook for visual thinkers. Available in red and black.
Blockitecture - Garden City

Just In! Get the Garden City Expansion

New from Blockitecture! Create towers, cities, and dwellings with this set of architectural building blocks.
Book cover of Unsprawl

Unsprawl: Remixing Spaces as Places

Explore visionary, controversial and ultimately successful strategies for building people-centered places.
Starting at $12.95