Quayside 2.0 Rejects the ‘Smart City’

In a reversal from Sidewalk Labs’ now-defunct tech-heavy proposal, Toronto’s new plan for the waterfront development known as Quayside emphasizes greenery and nature.

July 1, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


After the spectacular failure of Sidewalk Labs’ ambitious plan to redevelop Toronto’s waterfront into a tech utopia called Quayside, the city has a new plan that favors nature over technology, writes Karrie Jacobs in Technology Review. 

The Sidewalk Labs ‘smart city’ proposal encountered opposition from the beginning. “The project’s tech-first approach antagonized many; its seeming lack of seriousness about the privacy concerns of Torontonians was likely the main cause of its demise.” As Jacobs writes, “By May 2020, Sidewalk had pulled the plug, citing ‘the unprecedented economic uncertainty brought on by the covid-19 pandemic.’ But that economic uncertainty came at the tail end of years of public controversy over its $900 million vision for a data-rich city within the city.”

Toronto hired a new design team to create a new vision for the site. “The new Waterfront Toronto project has clearly learned from the past. Renderings of the new plans for Quayside—call it Quayside 2.0—released earlier this year show trees and greenery sprouting from every possible balcony and outcropping, with nary an autonomous vehicle or drone in site.” In the new plan, Jacobs observes, “The pendulum has swung back toward Howard’s garden city: Quayside 2022 is a conspicuous disavowal not only of the 2017 proposal but of the smart city concept itself.”

The plan leaves open questions about the actual impact of its “green” infrastructure. Jacobs wonders, “How many pocket forests and neighborhood farms will it take to cool the planet?” But “Whatever its practical impact, renderings of the new version of Quayside suggest a more livable place” and a deeper understanding of what makes cities desirable places to live.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022 in Technology Review

A image of the World's Columbian Exposition overlayed with a picture of Keanu Reeves in the rain from the movie Point Break.

Keanu Reeves Set to Play Daniel Burnham in ‘The Devil in the White City’

Planning is going to get a new level of star power as a limited series adaptation of The Devil in the White City gets ready for television screens in 2024.

August 8, 2022 - Reel Chicago

Kids

Opinion: Aging Population, Declining Fertility Requires Long-Term Investments

Faced with the dire consequences of a one-two punch of aging populations and declining birthrates, one writer has suggestions for how policy can help ensure a better future.

August 9, 2022 - Financial Times

View from middle of street in downtown Telluride, Colorado with mountains in background

Marrying Urban Identity and Economic Prosperity

A new book posits that truly successful communities have a strong economic base and a firmly rooted sense of place.

August 5, 2022 - Governing

Sound Transit Seattle

Free Transit Starts September 1 for Seattle Youth

Sound Transit is launching a fare-free program for young riders in the hopes of educating and recruiting future riders and making schools and jobs more accessible to transit-dependent youth.

August 12 - Smart Cities Dive

Aerial view of California aqueduct snaking through arid hills outside Los Angeles

California Governor Outlines Plan for a ‘Hotter, Drier Future’

With California’s water supply expected to drop by 10 percent in the next two decades, Governor Newsom’s strategy calls for conservation and increased investment in water collection, storage, and desalination infrastructure.

August 12 - Los Angeles Times

Worker caulking cracks in a home window

Sealing the Cracks in Weatherization and Home Repair

Deferred home maintenance can lead to serious structural, safety, and health issues. A new program in Pennsylvania aims to fill the gaps in home repair and weatherization programs.

August 12 - Shelterforce Magazine

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.