New ideas for making cities smarter
At the AlwaysOn GoingGreen Conference in Sausalito, Calif., executives talk about how to make cities more sustainable, focusing on innovative urban-planning and design projects such as ones being implemented in San Francisco and Seattle. The panel, moderated by Scientific American editor Mark Fischetti, includes Lee McIntire, CEO of CH2M Hill, Ian Copeland, president of renewables and technology at Bechtel, Andy Ball, president of Webcor Builders, and Jack Brockway, president of North American operations at Herrenknecht.
>> There's this assumption that the future city's gonna have to be higher density. There's, we can use compact development. I'd like just a brief vision from each view of, well maybe an answer. What does that actually mean? And maybe a brief vision of what you see happening to cities as, do they have to get more dense? And if so what does that mean? Our buildings have to get taller? Are our spaces gonna get smaller? Fewer open spaces? More and more exurbs? Or are we gonna have one continuous metropolis, which has been the vision for many decades, actually? So give me a, just a brief vision of what you see for future cities, so we can envision some images in our mind. We're, we don't need to go up and down anybody.
>> Okay I'll, I mean since I build buildings we'll do; I've never built a city. I, I know that Lee is working on Mazar phonetic City, which is a fascinating concept. There are not that many opportunities that you have to take just a clean sheet and build a city. So what I look at is, what, what is working with redevelopment within the cities that we have in the United States? All the major cities have experienced, I think, a lot of new growth. And, and what has caused that? A lot of people are getting tired of the commute, the freeways are becoming more congested. Transportation is a major factor. So as you start to move towards rail, or bus, or taxi, bicycles, you need to be in a city center with a great deal more density; a, a lot more density. And where redevelopment has worked, it's been based upon not having separate and distinct homogenous zoned areas, but it's mixing them. So a mixed environment. Mixed environment, and I look in San Francisco at the ballpark area, Mission Bay, as really being successful. You, you have a residential that really caused a turn around in having people there around the clock. And that, that brought in the retail, the grocery stores, the book stores, the restaurants, you've got the ballpark, obviously, which really accelerated, I think, the growth in that area. You've got the Embarkadero phonetic King Street as it goes past 3rd Street. You've, you've got at 4th Street you've got light rail coming down there. There are no cars parked on the south side or the southeast side of the Embarakadero. There is a bicycle lane, which is great. And so you start to see in the sidewalks, they're 30 feet wide, you have buildings there that go up to 10 stories. They could, they could go higher. You've got the 4th Street rail Caltrans phonetic coming in there. You've got Bart phonetic that's not that far away. So you really have to look and say, well going forward Senate Bill 375 encourages sustainable environments based upon fewer driven miles, reducing the transportation miles. You have to have people living, working, having entertainment, having retail in mixed use environments and much denser areas all together. I think that's, that's what I think works.
>> Jack you want to
>> Well I, I mean at least for our company we're looking, as an example we're looking at project in Seattle, it's the last way phonetic viaduct replacement tunnel. Lasqua phonetic viaduct, incase anybody's been to Seattle, its a double deck freeway that basically cuts Seattle off from the waterfront. And it was built in the early 50's. There's been some earthquake damage to it. And so the idea is to take, eventually take the viaduct down and then run a tunnel about 6,000 feet from the south end toward where the football stadium is up north. And to me it's just an ideal solution. There's too much traffic in Seattle. The, the viaduct is gonna fall down one of these days. And, and just fixing it is not gonna solve the problem. So if we do a tunnel we can do the tunnel now over the next 2 to 3 years, keep the viaduct up, and then as soon as the tunnel is finished then we can remove the viaduct, we can open up the space, open up the area for the waterfront development green space it. To me it's just like the perfect project for the U.S.
>> Is it, is it conceivable that something that, when you talk about sustainable cities I think people have this image that, you know, we're all gonna walk and bike, and there's not supposed to be any cars anymore. And so it's gonna be light rail or, or whatever. Is it, is it possible to have so much underground that 5th Avenue down Manhattan really could be open for pedestrians? Is that? Or is it
>> Possible, but probably not practical.
>> I, I think if you look at it today, I, I'd compare and contrast what's happening in, in parts of Asia. I, I spent a lot of time in Vietnam and watched the transition from bicycles to cars in that environment. And, and I see the, the shift in this country to, to the sort of urban environments that we're talking about here in San Francisco. And I kind of look to the Dutch model a little bit in terms of what their cities look like. It's, it's very well connected from a mass transit standpoint. So if you think about the future you need to have a lot more investment in moving people efficiently, if you're talking about green. It's, it's, it's the most efficient way to move a lot of people quickly is, is through mass transportation. And it's gonna need a lot more light rail, a lot more subways, a lot more bus ways, and making that part of the, the analysis for a city efficient. And then local transportation needs again inaudible Duchess, phonetic very, very sustainable model with a lot of bicycles and smaller homes. And to me that's, that's where you end up having the transition in terms of keeping the quality of lifestyle available for people. And driving towards getting again all the services that people need to have a pleasant life, but maybe a little bit smaller like, like the author not so big houses
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