Dramatic Population Growth Presents Opportunity to Reshape America's Urban Environment

To accomodate America's expected population growth by 2050, the country will need to build up to 74 million new homes. This challenge presents a unique opportunity to reshape our urban environment, says Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogota.

"It is unlikely that city building on the scale to be seen through 2050 will happen ever again," says Penalosa. "Cities are a means to a way of life: the kind of urban structures created over the next few decades will have profound consequences in terms of quality of life, environmental sustainability, economic well-being, and even happiness and the civilization for hundreds of years to come. If we consider the influence American cities will exert on the rest of the world, the way they are built will determine, as well, much of the world’s sustainability and well-being."

Can high-density infill or traditional neighborhood development provide the model? "I don’t think so," he argues. "I believe a different urban model is possible: a dense city with a large percentage of buildings facing pedestrian-and-bicycle-only promenades or greenways."

"Some wonderful projects have been built in the past few decades—including Battery Park City in Manhattan and Harbour Green in Vancouver, British Columbia—without a road separating buildings from green spaces and waterfronts. But the challenge is to create not only high-quality isolated projects, but also whole cities with new characteristics."

Full Story: A U.S. Template for a Third-Millennium City


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