Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education

Why the Titans of Tech Must Become Better Urbanists

Technology companies are increasing their presence in cities, adopting the language of planners, and seeking to create communities. Yet, according to Allison Arieff, the sector does a uniformly poor job of contributing to urban vitality.
December 16, 2013, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

With their young work forces, entrepreneurial ethos, and "embrace of urbanist lingua franca", tech companies are much sough-after tenants in cities across the United States. But, as their interaction with the wider community in San Francisco illustrates, tech's biggest titans have a lot to learn about how to be good neighbors. 

"There’s been no shortage of published laments on the changing nature of San Francisco over the past several weeks, so I’m loath to add another complaint to the list," writes Arieff in an opinion piece for The Times. "And yet … I keep coming across instances where the tech sector flocks to the city and talks of community yet isolates itself from the urban experience it presumably couldn’t wait to be a part of."

She points to several instances, in San Francisco and at suburban campuses in Silicon Valley, where tech companies have created vital "third places" that are off-limits to the general public.

“'Community space' implies something that is open to, well, the community. Subverting of naming conventions to suggest public access and transparency, while providing neither, is troubling and increasingly pervasive. But this turning inward, despite the incessant drumbeat of 'community,' is quickly becoming the rule rather than the exception."

Full Story:
Published on Friday, December 13, 2013 in The New York Times
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email