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Is This How Millennials Prefer Their Suburbs?

As more young people express a preference for suburban life, Alan M. Berger gives us a vision of tomorrow's suburbs: smart and sustainable, but still spread out.
September 17, 2017, 1pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Tom Woodward

As we've seen recently, the younger generation's love affair with urban living may not last. Of millennials, Alan M. Berger writes, "They are continuing to migrate to suburbs. According to the latest Census Bureau statistics, 25- to 29-year-olds are about a quarter more likely to move from the city to the suburbs as vice versa; older millennials are more than twice as likely."

Berger, a professor of landscape architecture and urban design at MIT, argues that younger suburbanites "want breathing room but disdain the energy wastefulness, visual monotony and social conformity of postwar manufactured neighborhoods."

Buzzing with smart tech and attuned to the environment, Berger's suburb of tomorrow cuts down on some its predecessors' waste, opening up better spaces for community life. "In sustainable new suburbs, house and lot sizes are smaller — in part because driveways and garages are eliminated — paving is reduced up to 50 percent and landscapes are more flexible."

But this is still a car-dependent (or drone-dependent) vision. And Berger isn't afraid to imply that he knows the truth about what millennials, as a monolithic group, want.

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Published on Friday, September 15, 2017 in The New York Times
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