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Urban Development as Infrastructure

What we now describe as "urban infrastructure" was anticipated by a series of large-scale developments in cities like London and New York. Written for and presented to the Japan-U.S. Urban Workshop, a conference held in Tokyo, the paper
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  .... _. t • · ·-lllo. • Urban Development as Infrastructure : Lessons and Trends in Large-scale Development Professor Richard Bender and John Parman Urban Construction Laboratory University of California at Berkeley March 1992 Contents I. Introduction About Infrastructure The Computer Metaphor Emergence of the Group Shifts in Working Living Patterns II. Precedents Gaining Leverage from the Existing Context Creating a Framework Densifying Suburbs Co-housing Urban Villages Mobile City /Global Village III. Case Studies: Lessons of the Eighties Case 1: Battery Park City Case 2: Broadgate Case 3: Canary Wharf IV. Strategic Infrastructure The Quest for Productivity Prototypes Criteria for New Working/Living Settings 1 V Scenarios for Future Development Central Tokyo Tokyo Urban Villages Existing New Communities VI. Sources Acknowledgements Primary Sources  I Introduction About Infrastructure The word infrastructure srcinates from the military, but has been broadened over time to include first the hardware of urban settings -trains, highways, airports, harbors, power plants, sewage treatment plants, etc. -and more recently the services and amenities that are seen as the prerequisites of urban development. We call these services and amenities infrastructure, and this is the appropriate term in that they are mostly treated as hardware -elements or building blocks of development, used in predictable and sometimes mindless ways, without thinking how they could contribute to that elusive term, the new image of urban life. In the U.S., we sometimes say that something is a verb as well as a noun. A similar idea is expressed by the linked words hardware and software. In infrastructure, most of the focus has been on the hardware side. The Computer Metaphor The words hardware and software bring us to the world of the computer. Let us look at that world for a moment as a metaphor for infrastructure generally: in the beginning, computers were big, heavy, and expensive. Only the largest organizations could afford them. Their software, programmed in various special languages, required an intervening organization of service deliverers to mediate between the machine and the ultimate users. This arrangement continued and was steadily refined and perfected. Huge companies arose around it, both to build and service the machines and write the software and handle the processing. The last decade saw the reversal of that 2 trend. New and increasingly powerful personal computers and workstations entered the marketplace, together with software that could be used directly by ordinary people. Both found an immediate and immense market. The resulting proliferation of users fueled a burst of hardware and software innovations, seeking to give users more speed and better tools. Today, however, the trend is changing again -shifting from personal computing to an emphasis on the shared use of tools and data. This is not leading back to the old central system, but to smaller, special-purpose networks that use relatively standard building blocks of hardware and software to serve specific groups with unique -and changing -needs and purposes. A similar tendency can be seen today in development in terms of the growing importance of the group, the team, the network as a key unit of society and by extension of the marketplace. Development in the 1980s was oriented toward two markets: large, predictable organizations and a mass of individuals -single people, households, families -acting as isolated but relatively predictable consumers. In the U.S. and increasingly in Western Europe, however, the 1990s are characterized by the erosion of these two markets. Emergence of the Group This fall witnessed the simultaneous breakup of the Soviet Union and IBM Corporation. In both cases, there was a sense that a large, central organization, with all its supposed virtues, had lost its reason for being, and rather than being the whole greater than the sum of its parts, was in fact an obstacle to their growth and evolution.  In a recent issue of Business Tokyo, a senior manager of Toshiba's Design Center bemoans the loss of mass market consumer goods. As soon as something becomes hot, people stop buying it, he says. These are two sides of the same coin. What we are seeing is the emergence of smaller, more spontaneously organized, and therefore much less predictable units -groups, markets, business units, networks, and other looser affiliations. Some coalesce around shared needs or interests. Others are formed to empower a group of individuals, to increase their productivity or make their lives better. Shifts in Working Living Patterns In the last decade, earlier patterns of living and working - postwar patterns, we might call them -have proven less workable or conducive to expectations of a better life. Commuting times have lengthened, congestion and pollution are worse. Productivity is again an issue. In the midst of what is clearly a breakdown in the old order, a variety of new patterns are emerging: • New technologies that make centralized organizations and single-purpose workspaces less of a factor in productivity. • New working and living patterns that take advantage of these technologies -transforming their settings in the process. • New settings that cater consciously and incrementally to the needs of smaller, more specific, less predictable markets, often by adding value to existing settings and infrastructure. These phenomena are user-driven in that they focus on individual users and their individual productivity or happiness. They are also group-driven in that they seek to pull 3 groups of users together as defined markets -smaller and less predictable markets than the earlier, large ones, but also entailing less front-end risk.  II. Precedents There are a number of examples of built and proposed development that can pointed to as precedents for future development that illustrate this pattern shift. They can be categorized by the development strategy they use to accomplish this. For example: Gaining Leverage from the Existing Context One set of projects demonstrates the leverage possible in densifying around existing transportation centers or extending existing areas with established transportation access, services, and amenities. Two examples are the Broadgate development around Liverpool Station and Battery Park City in lower Manhattan, New York City. Broadgate is instructive because it represents the migration of what might be called Tokyo-style development -unusually dense, relatively low buildings arrayed around a major transit hub connected to all development by an enclosed retail arcade that opens onto well-used outdoor plazas. The relative banality of the high-tech first phase is relieved in the second phase by more thoughtful parceling and a design program introducing greater variety. The overall development provides a range of floorplates, all with a high level of finish and services. The project's density, central location, and concurrent function as a transit hub allows a greater than usual number of amenities. Battery Park City, a larger development in total area than Broadgate, extended an existing lower Wall Street business setting, adding a flexible mix of office towers and housing blocks and succeeding in giving the area a critical mass of daytime and 24-hour population sufficient to create 24-hour usage. It is instructive to compare these two projects to others planned or developed around 4 the same period, such as Canary Wharf in London and Makuhari in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo. Compared to Canary Wharf, a large new in London's docklands area southeast of the central business district along the Thames river, Battery Park benefitted from better market timing and a superior development context in terms of available compatible infrastructure and services. This is a key point: although Battery Park City and Canary Wharf both required substantial initial investment in infrastructure on the part of the developer, Battery Park City was far less risky, for two reasons: • First, the basic surrounding infrastructure was in place. Lower Manhattan was not the Isle of Dogs, requiring the extension of public transit and the creation -now lagging - of an appropriate context for commercial development. • Second, while the plan for Battery Park City allowed for substantial commercial development by the lead developer, it also created opportunities for smaller-scale development (of residential parcels by others, thus spreading the risk and adding diversity. Canary Wharf attempted to introduce visual diversity, but its underlying plan required a very large increment of initial commercial development to pay for the cost of infrastructure. It also lacks Broadgate' s diversity of tenant spaces -its buildings provide only the large, American-style floorplates that were so appealing in the 1980s (and so unsuited to the present market). In contrast to Broadgate and Battery Park City, the Makuhari new community devel-  opment in Chiba Prefecture is closer to what Joel Garreau has called edge cities -tied together by jetways, freeways, and telecommunications. It is more like comparable development in Orange County, California and the Dallas Metroplex area. From the standpoint of current U.S. planning, Makurhari is a throwback in its rigid separation of commercial, residential, and recreational uses. These divisions work against 24-hour use and the creation of a broader mix of amenities and services. On the other hand, Makurhari shows that peripheral sites are promising for tall buildings. Indeed, it could have appropriately accommodated a much taller building as a landmark, anchoring the project in its relatively undistinguished setting and giving it added regional identity. (SOM's Citicorp Tower, visible across the East River from Manhattan, used this same strategy -a single highrise tower set amidst much lower buildings -to become an immediate landmark in the region.) Creating a Framework Several projects in the San Francisco area exhibit Battery Park City's approach to parcelized development: Silicon Valley Financial Center -the redevelopment of a portion of San Jose, California's central business district; and Mission Bay and Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco -respectively a new mixed-use district in a former railyards/industrial area and a more typical site clearance redevelopment project of a near-downtown neighborhood of single room occupancy (SRO) hotels and warehouse/light industrial uses. What these projects have in common with Battery Park City is their creation of a framework that guides their development without predetermining its pace or program. In each case, streets and amenity areas such as parks and pedestrian connections are used to define the development parcels. The increments of development -that is, the size of the small- 5 est parcels -are also established with an eye toward preserving flexibility in the face of changing market conditions. For Yerba Buena Center, for example, SOM left it to the marketplace to determine how much housing, office, hotel, or retail development might be provided. On the other hand, it laid down clear guidelines for the character of development in each location, so that the final outcome would be a project of a certain quality and consistency. Mission Bay, which is considerably larger, designates certain areas for specific uses such as back office and residential development. Within these areas, it again uses parcelization to encourage diversity --reinforced by the Owner's decision to spin off these parcels to other developers. This also represents a growing trend --the reluctance of the prime developer or land owner to shoulder the entire burden of development, and their transition to an orchestrator or impresario role, overseeing others who share the risk together with a share of the rewards. Mission Bay also represents a conscious effort by the developer to tie infrastructure to development and tie both to the immediate demands of the marketplace, rather than to a more risky forecast of long-term demand. The first increment of Mission Bay clusters development in an area that is a direct extension of an adjoining, relatively developed district. These parcels make use of existing city streets and the proximity of existing services. Later, as the project gains momentum and the city makes good on its commitment to public transit, additional increments of project infrastructure will be added. Densifying Suburbs A current trend in the U.S. is to recast suburban development around mass transit and give it higher density and greater compactness as a pedestrian-oriented setting. Examples of such projects include Valencia, an older planned
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