High Speed Rail (HSR) is the favorite moniker to describe the new era of trains envisioned and partially down-paid by the recent stimulus. The idea, linking major regional corridors via fast trains that rival door-to-door times for air travel and put highways to shame, is a powerful elixir to the crunch of congested highways and airways that represented a failed – or to be more accurate, incomplete - twentieth century vision to satiate America's transport needs. Perhaps this vision, if implemented with undeterred gusto, can renew our perception of travel and convenience while simultaneously reinvigorating our gagged transportation system.
A new design competition thinks it can.
In a recent post, I discussed the value of open design competitions in strengthening a city's "culture of design". I explained how Vancouver, often described as a city by design but in past years perhaps lacking a competition skill-set, is seeking to strengthen that culture, albeit by small steps and grass-roots efforts thus far. Here's the link - you might want to read that post first.
Architecture is certainly headed for its own version of the Big Bang. A density of firms are simmering with scarce backlog, delinquent collections, looming layoffs, high overhead, low morale as weakened management relies on a foggy stimulus package to forestall an explosion of great magnitude. After the inevitable, our profession will reconstitute based on a new chemistry.