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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 lagging -
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
of 23