A quiet crisis is emerging in our building practice: one story buildings are being coded out of the system right when we need them most. While it is true that the Wendy's, Kmarts, and Walgreens of the world earn their anti-urban distinction, we should hesitate to throw the one story baby out with the suburban bathwater. One story buildings are being called upon amidst the unpredictable shift to e-commerce, the speed at which we need to take advantage of new markets, the stubborn difficulty of building and financing affordable mixed-use buildings, and, due to the capital cost, the propensity of credit-worthy chain tenants to show up in conventional new mixed-use buildings, leading to the same placelessness and capital extraction we seek to avoid in the first place.
Traditional downtown anchors moving from isolation to integration
The 2014 Transportation Agenda
As 2014 gets under way, many of the country's largest cities are transitioning into new leadership. New mayors such as those of New York, Boston, Detroit, Cincinnati, Charlotte, Minneapolis, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh are coming in amidst renewed understanding of the role, power, and influence of metropolitan regions. In their own way, each new mayor seeks to position his or her city as a hotbed of innovation in economic development, customer service, administration, finance, operations, housing, education, neighborhood regeneration, infrastructure, and public safety. And while expectations for these cities have never been so high, the fiscal fragility of cities has never been so real. Portfolios of expenditures, liabilities, and subsidies have been exposed by insufficient revenues and poor performing investments on Wall Street and main street. As a result, these new mayors must be creative and practical in guiding their cities through their first terms.
One of the areas that these new mayors share a focus is transportation and regional connectivity.
Cities are never finished. They continue to evolve and adapt to change. The urban design of a city is the sum of organic and planned public spaces that have formed over time in its streets, riverfronts, plazas, and neighborhood parks. These spaces are formed and activated by the the uses housed in both public and private buildings that frame them. They serve as the enabler of the city’s economy and the backdrop for the city’s vitality, character, and livability.