Section 8 housing that has appeared over the last decade or so – a model that encourages the participation and investment of residents inside and around the building to make the community a success (See also our Perspectives interview with Andrew Vincent and Allison Pendell-Jones with the Baltimore AHC). The one in Baltimore is a broader community project meant to encourage an ethnically and economically mixed community in an environment meant to draw on the conveniences of urban living while retaining the space and modern amenities associated with the suburbs. Today we wanted to call attention to a larger debate about how housing, urban populations, and suburban communities might evolve over the next couple of decades as we recover from the Great Recession. How might we live then?we posted news concerning two multi-family buildings opened or in development in Washington DC and Baltimore. These projects, initiated and funded by a bipartisan association of private- and public-sector institutions, are also meeting the gold standard of LEED Certification of environmental stewardship. The project in Washington DC represents a new model of
The map to the upper right was posted yesterday at TheAtlantic.com by Richard Florida, a business professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. He has written a book entitled ‘The Creative Class,’ in which he argues that a creative entrepreneurial class of tech-savvy designers, service agents, and professionals will not only drive the economic recovery in the near term, but reconfigure our cities over the next century or so. His ideas were encapsulated in an article that appeared at NationalJournal.com in late September and was reposted/republished last week at TheAtlantic.com.
The map was designed from data from theof people’s overall well being. The biggest winners of overall well being were the citizens of Ithaca, New York. The losers inhabit the Huntington-Ashland region of West Virginia/southern Ohio/northern Kentucky. Mr. Florida’s stake in the map (not evident in the posting of the map, which he merely introduces) pertains to his thesis that we are being drawn toward urban centers again, to find convenient, dense, and comparatively ‘green’ ways to live and work. These urban centers might not be the classic ones along the lines of Manhattan or Los Angeles, where real estate remains limited and dear, but will likely include places of medium density now (presumably like an Ithaca) that can both provide an urban nucleus and allow expansion with the influx of ‘the creative class’ looking for new work.
Jesse Hamilton of ‘The Hartford Courant’ and ‘National Journal‘ – author of the article posted at the National Journal and The Atlantic – contrasts Richard Florida’s ideas with those of Joel Kotkin, an urban development scholar at Chapman University in California. Kotkin argues instead that cities might indeed draw in a creative class, but only at the stage of life that they want personal convenience and easy access. Rising income and especially the arrival of children, he believes, will move even the creative types toward suburbs. These suburbs are where the greatest changes of the next generation or two will be.
Hamilton sums up Professor Florida’s thesis thusly:
The Great Recession, he believes, will draw people into ultra-urban “mega-regions” – expanses linking today’s metropolitan areas. Boston, New York, and Washington, for instance, will grow into one mega-region – “Bos-Wash” – with planned growth filling the gaps between the cities.
Such urban giants are already forming, he believes, and government should encourage the trend by nurturing high-rise livability alongside the creative industries that can reignite the economy. People in Florida’s future would live in dense and environmentally efficient housing, many without cars, close to their workplace.
And Professor Kotkin’s vision thusly:
Most of the development will take place, he believes, not in the midsection’s cities themselves but in their suburbs and exurbs. He foresees the rings around each landlocked city shining like a charm bracelet, a chain of hubs with distinct personalities. “The basic pattern of the future metropolis will be built upon a predominantly suburban matrix dominated by cars, road connections, and construction such as is familiar to the denizens of contemporary Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Houston,” he writes in his book. “These dense zones will be ad hoc, constantly shifting and ethnically diverse.”
Jesse Hamilton’s interviews also tackle questions about the politics that both might encourage one vision over the other (though both academics concede their points are not mutually exclusive) and might be reconfigured as people change their living arrangements. Both sides present contemporary demographic trends that well support their positions, and Mr Hamilton challenges both sides to contend with economic and political evidence that runs counter to their models. The article is wonderfully thought provoking and we highly recommend you take a few moments to read it. One question that might be especially relevant to our Balt-Wash readers is, “How the two developments we discussed yesterday encourage either model?” Certainly the efforts of housing associations and community greening groups throughout the country will affect the ways their own (sub)urban centers develop.