With more and more employers downsizing and moving to areas with more urban amenities, large suburban office parks offer an opportunity for increased density and mixed-use development.
Writing in The New York Times, Emily Badger describes the plight of a fading American typology: the suburban office park. “Today suburban office parks have drawn far less attention than downtown offices that are also threatened by remote work. But their decline reflects in some ways a more sweeping and permanent judgment — of once-dominant ideas about where Americans work, how the office should look, and what the suburbs should be.”
According to Badger, “Far from downtowns, there is a different kind of emptiness in suburban settings that were already isolated and lightly populated by design.” While some office parks will likely be modernized and used as offices again, “Other sites will have to become something fundamentally different: schools, senior living centers, apartment complexes, public parks, warehouses.” According to an estimate by commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle, “57 percent of suburban office space nationwide is so old as to be functionally obsolete.”
However, their massive footprints offer the opportunity for redevelopment with a variety of uses and amenities. “Amid a nationwide housing crisis, many obsolete office parks could be ideal sites for denser housing.” As Badger points out, “Multifamily housing is expensive to build, but the land now being used for suburban parking lots is cheap, so the economics can work out (if the politics do).” To this end, cities and counties must be open to zoning reforms that allow for adaptive reuse of office parks and promote mixed-use development on these sites.
Arizona’s ‘Car-Free’ Community Takes Shape
Culdesac Tempe has been welcoming residents since last year.
The Changing Shape of American Suburbs
Housing costs and availability are pushing more American households, including young families, to suburbs and exurbs — and they’re demanding changes.
4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design
With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.
Beverly Hills Installs First ‘Green Street’
A three-block median featuring native plants and bioswales is part of the city’s broader effort to reduce water consumption and pollution.
Habitat for Humanity and Missoula Land Trust Team up on Affordable Housing
The partnership will ensure the new homes will remain affordable for future buyers.
Experiencing California's Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve
Located in the western Mojave Desert, this stunning state natural reserve is renowned for its breathtaking displays of California poppies and has even been referred to as California's most beautiful place.
City of Laramie, Wyoming
Colorado Department of Local Affairs
Lassen County Planning and Building Services
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.