Today I want to talk about the future, but I do so by first looking back, focusing on the moments in a city’s long history when transformative change occurs. I am interested in this topic because I see a lot of cities planning and struggling to do things that have been on their agendas for many years. However, as planners, urban designers, and landscape architects, we need to be thinking about things that will be needed 10 to 15 years from now. I don’t see many cities reinventing their future in the plans they are making. There are reasons for that. It takes time for ideas to mature politically. It takes time to assemble resources to overcome opposition. It takes even longer to accomplish ambitious changes. But if the horizon is 10 to 15 years ahead, then changes being pursued based on current needs are likely to be largely out of date when they are completed. A while ago, working on the plan for New York City’s West side waterfront, I discovered that there were several very large piers, including the 16-acre Pier 40, that had never been used for the passenger ships they were designed to serve. Pier 40 was built to accommodate the fast fading service between New York and England, but it took so long to build that it was completed about three years after the last passenger liner left port. Meanwhile, as these dinosaurs were being constructed New York was lagging behind in building the international airports that provided the future links across the Atlantic. We run that risk in many of the plans we are pursuing today, just as the pace of change has accelerated. I find it instructive to look at how cities have coped with large changes in the past. What was behind the transformative changes they needed to harness? How did they foresee change? What plans did they make? With answers to these questions in mind, I will move on to discuss the four major forces that we ought to pay attention to today because I think they will have transformative effects on our cities.
"Hearst Lecture: Gary Hack - Disruptive Changes and the Pattern of Cities,"
1, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/focus/vol14/iss1/9
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License