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The AIA Housing and Community Development Knowledge Community (HCD) is a network of architects and allied stakeholders that promotes equity in housing, excellence in residential design, and sustainable, vibrant communities for all, through education, research, awards, and advocacy.

The Future of Cities: Back to Basics?

  • 1.  The Future of Cities: Back to Basics?

    Posted 03-08-2021 01:42 PM

    Future- which future?

    Rarely was the desire to know the future bigger than amidst this pandemic. But the future remains shrouded in doubt and uncertainty, the future of cities included. Predictions for 2020 would have failed to foresee the aftermath of George Floyd's death, and even less that a virus would bring New York to its knees.  Since then predicting anything has become even more precarious. 

    Manhattan, New York City (Photo: Philipsen)

    Only the broadest terms seem clear: The future won't be like the past, nor will it be how we imagined it before the pandemic. Just take all the talk about the "smart city" and the advances that were promised from sensing light poles or sewer lines that can report leaks. These technologies feel frivolous now, compared to what emerged as "smart" under COVID: The rapid shift of retailers and restaurants to online sales, the nimbleness of employers and employees in switching to remote work and meetings, government's pivot to virtual council sessions and community input meetings, local DOTs rapidly installing "slow streets" and restaurant "parklets",  the ability of museums to organize virtual exhibits, transit systems retrofitting and operating buses and trains under social distancing rules, and the ongoing struggle of schools and universities to provide education over the distance. These are the new hallmarks of smartness which have changed most everybody's life more deeply and much faster than anybody had imagined.  Few would argue that these shifts represent not only restrictions but that they also opened new opportunities and, in many ways, tastes of a future that was in store anyway. Flexibility is smartness and equals resilience, a new property needed for whatever future we can imagine. 

    "Normal" has evaporated

    There is little chance that life can return to "normal" as if nothing had happened. Too much was upended for an entire year , including the unfathomable half million neighbors, friends colleagues and family members who perished from COVID before our eyes. Trauma and new habits ensure that the old "normal" has vanished, doesn't exist....READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

    [Klaus] Philipsen FAIA
    Archplan Inc. Philipsen Architects
    Baltimore MD
    AIA Awards Housing 2021. the book is now available on Amazon! Buy now >