Author: Daniel Weiss

Miami Beach, Florida

When it comes to civic life, Miami Beach is designed to be a social place 24/7, yet there is an element of privacy and exclusivity that plays an important role in the perception of Miami Beach as a high-end place to party and live. With regard to social connection, Miami Beach is able to maximize social interaction during the day through its continuous coastline of public beaches, relatively walkable sidewalks and boardwalk, in addition to numerous parks and commercial boulevard, such as Lincoln Road and Collins Ave. At night, the walkable infrastructure combined with a notable police presence, enables Miami Beach to still be a social place, as visitors and S. Florida residents alike, flock to clubs to party and have fun. While Miami Beach manages to function as a social place through its use of walkable infrastructure and public commons, it is important to note that the pervasive element of exclusivity enforces a sense of insularity and protection. This is not only evident by the number of upscale hotels that charge relatively high rates and cover charges for wealthy tourists, but also in the many islands that isolate the wealthy from the rest of the city. Examples of these islands include Palm Island, Hibiscus Island, Star Island, the Venetian Islands, and most notably, Fisher Island (which is geographically isolated).

Copenhagen: Cycle to civic life

The “Five-Finger Plan” was developed in 1947 by Steen Eiler Rasmussen and Christian Erhard Bredsdorff in collaboration with the Urban Planning Laboratory. The plan focuses on Green spaces and the transportation system with metropolitan train lines. These transportation systems spread in the form of five fingers from the Palm which is Copenhagen’s City Center, hence the title “five finger plan”. One of the most defining features of Copenhagen are the bike lanes and green areas. Nearly 40% of people ride bicycles daily, and the numbers are expected to rise. In addition, it is a walkable city with shopping areas which are pedestrian-accessible. There are playgrounds for children and gathering places. The city has also found ways to maximize its spaces by taking down the fences and designing areas to support a wide variety of activities. An example: a large courtyard next to a marketplace that serves as both a schoolyard playground and common space with a basketball court. During lunch, multiple worlds collide in one cohesive space. And in terms of policy, the city is redesigning all of its schoolyards to be fenceless so they are open and welcoming to the community. The parks are unique, playful, and a reflection of the surrounding neighborhood.

Adelaide, Australia: A “twenty-minute city”

Adelaide was designed in 1836 by Colonel William Light. The grid layout, with five squares in the city center and a ring of parks, makes Adelaide a mobility minded city. While it doesn’t exactly qualify as an especially public transit minded city, the benefits of Light’s design mostly cater to the driving population of Adelaide.
Adelaide has been consciously planned throughout all stages of its growth, with multi-lane roads and a very navigable grid layout existing in the plan from the beginning. In the 1960s, the Metropolitan Adelaide Transport Study Plan was proposed in order to research ways to accommodate the future growth of the city. This involved the building of new freeways, expressways, as well as upgrades of the existing public transport system.
The Adelaide Metro is the transport system that caters to the Adelaide metro area, and because the city is centrally located on the Australian continent, it functions as a hub for different routes throughout the continent. However, Adelaide’s main accomplishment when it comes to mobility is its dedication to easy road transport. It is known as a “twenty-minute city” with commuters being able to travel from the edges of the city to the center in around 20 minutes.

Hampton Roads Region, Virginia

The Hampton Roads Region of Virginia has long been an important site for the U.S. armed forces, as during the Civil War, the Hampton Roads waterway was the site of the first battle between two ironclad ships, the Monitor and the Merrimac. In addition, the first naval action of the War of 1812 took place in the waters of Hampton Roads, when a Royal Naval ship was seized by American privateers. Today, Hampton Roads remains a significant site for the U.S. Navy, as the world’s largest naval station, the Naval Station Norfolk, is located in Norfolk, Virginia, near the center of this region. Of the twenty-seven bases for the armed forces located in Virginia, this region contains fourteen of them, with bases for the Army, the Navy, the Coast Guard, and the Air Force, as well as a support base at which Marine Corps personnel are stationed.
Because this region contains a number of bases for the various branches of the military, it was important to be able to transport supplies or troops from any direction, resulting in the spiderweb pattern visible on the map, which centers on the city of Norfolk. In order to ensure that the military could get anywhere within the region quickly, there are five different interstate highways in the network, as well as five different U.S. highways, including Route 13, which runs from North Carolina to Pennsylvania.
In addition to the complex network of highways, the Virginia General Assembly constructed the 17.6 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to connect the Hampton Roads Region with the Delmarva Peninsula, offering a quick route between the two. Originally, the government had considered a bridge high off the water, but concerns of the base in Norfolk being cut off if the bridge collapsed forced the government to make it into a bridge-tunnel system. The CBBT is one of only ten bridge-tunnel systems in the world, with two of the remaining nine also being located in the region. The Hampton Roads region has always been an extremely important location for the U.S. military, especially the Navy, and the ease of transportation around the area almost ensures that it will continue to be an important location for years to come.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The rapid rise of Dubai is relatively unprecedented in urban planning, as in the course of decades, deserts has given way to a world-class city that is currently one of the wealthiest and most iconic. However, despite Dubai’s innovative buildings and land-use projects, such as The World and Palm Islands, mobility in Dubai is relatively restricted to automobile use. This is evident in the the layout of wide roads and various highways that run orthogonally throughout the city. In addition, as one of the wealthiest cities in the world, Dubai has a rich car culture, which is not only embraced by individuals (as some of the rarest production cars ultimately end up in Dubai), but is also embraced by the city, which captures this enthusiasm by auctioning off low number plates (e.g. #1-999) for millions of dollars. In addition, the city maintains an exotic supercar fleet for its police force, consisting of various Mercedes-AMG models, a Lamborghini Aventador, Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari LaFerrari, etc. While Dubai’s socioeconomic conditions and automobile dependent infrastructure make Dubai an undisputed supercar hotspot, the dependence on automobiles has resulted in severe traffic problems, with the average Dubai driver spending 80 hours in congestion every year. While Dubai has attempted to address these problems through the construction of the Dubai Metro, the Metro system appears to link mostly tourist areas. In addition, Dubai lacks a rail link between Dubai and its nearby sister city of Abu Dhabi. So while Dubai tries to spin its transportation woes by promoting their plan for flying taxis, in reality, the young city is trying to expand its metro system in order to be less-reliant on automobiles. In this sense, the mobility of Dubai is not emblematic of its reputation as a city of the future, but is more inline with other car-dependent cities that have bold plans to be more multimodal.

South Korea (Gyeongbu Expressway & Line)

Seoul went through a period of major urban mobility development during the Park Chung-Hee authoritarian regime. Park’s policies were highly focused on economic development of South Korea after its destruction during the Korean War. Consequently, he is accredited for much of South Korea’s modern infrastructure and economic prosperity even today, despite his autocratic ways of implementing these development plans. Of these plans, the opening of Gyeongbu Expessway is a particularly notable project. This highway is 416 km (258.49 miles) long and connects South Korea’s capital, Seoul, to the country’s largest port city, Busan. The Gyeongbu highway also passes through the country’s administrative city, Sejong, making it the most heavily travelled highway in South Korea. This Seoul-Busan axis became extremely congested in the 1990s, which then led to the development of a Korean Train Express in 1992. This railway opened in 2004 and in 2010 Osong station was added in this expressway railway to include a stop in Sejong City. As such, South Korea’s extensive, high-speed transportation system is developed around these three major cities Thus, it demonstrates Seoul’s efforts to decongest the capital city and disseminate its economic prosperity throughout the country.


Toronto: Ctiy of Future Mobility

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 as of 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada’s most populous CMA. It has placed a focus on mobility for all of its future developments. It’s future forward mobility design is focused on 5 things: 1.) complete streets, 2.) Walking, 3.) Cycling, 4.) Public Transit, 5.) Motor vehicles. Regarding completed streets they will undertake a Street Typology Study for key Downtown streets to identify street types and modal priorities. For walking they will, undertake Downtown-focused pedestrian safety improvements as part of the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan. For cycling, they will continue implementing initiatives already planned as part of the 10-Year Cycling Network Plan. For public transit, they review lessons-learned from King Street Transit Pilot, undertake a Downtown Transit Area Study to develop a longterm vision and plan for surface transit improvements needed to accommodate growth within and near the Downtown to improve transit reliability, reduce transit travel times, and increase transit ridership. For motor vehicles Implement the Curbside Management Strategy and promote off-peak delivery using alternative delivery methods such as bicycles and smaller delivery vehicles within the Downtown.

Old West Durham, North Carolina

Old West Durham, North Carolina

Old West Durham, formerly known as Hayti, and its economic decline in the latter half of the 20th century, is a typical example of the negative effects of urban renewal on African-American neighborhoods. Hayti, named after the first independent black republic in the western hemisphere, was established during the 1880s as a result of the growing tobacco trade in Durham. Soon the community became economically and socially independent and grew to be one of the most successful black neighborhoods in the United States. Beginning in the late 1950s, there was an increased interest in connecting downtown Durham with (mostly white) suburbs in the southern periphery of the city, however, the tight-knit community (both physically and socially) of Hayti stood in the way of increased mobility for these residents. In 1957, the North Carolina General Assembly approved a bill for urban renewal of the Hayti neighborhood, citing slum-like conditions: high density, health issues and poor planning of commercial and residential development. The bill included plans for rezoning of much of the neighborhood to build the Durham Freeway, a large highway that ran directly through the neighborhood, and to allow for the construction of more parking and wider streets to increase automobile accessibility. Not only did the plan cost millions of dollars and take over 14 years, but it displaced more than 4,000 and irreparably destroyed the commercial viability and social cohesiveness of an entire community, all for the sake of greater car mobility. Today, the Hayti area remains one of the most economically neglected and exploited areas in all of Durham.

Anderson,  J.  B.  (1990).  Durham County: A History of Durham County, North Carolina.  Duke  University  Press, Durham, N.C.
Durham Redevelopment Commission, Durham, N.C. (1960).  Hayti-Elizabeth Street renewal area: general neighborhood renewal plan: project no. N.C. R-7 (GN).  City Planning and Architectural Services, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Although Oklahoma City’s odd-looking city plan does not immediately lend itself to grandeur, it is a city more related to grandeur in its ideology, the “boom” ideology which founded the city itself. After the city was first started in the late 1800’s, it started to grow rapidly, its population skyrocketing over the following years. As a result, the city officials started to buy as much land surrounding the area as possible, regardless of how well it fit with the rest of the city plan. Unfortunately, the city did not grow as much in the future as they thought it would have, resulting in there being no reason for them to continue to buy land.
In addition to the city’s odd shape, the city also failed at grandeur with the Pei Plan in the 1970’s. OKC officials asked I.M. Pei to design their city’s new downtown, and he came to them with a futuristic design plan for Oklahoma City. Before they even started to put new buildings up, OKC demolished 40% of their downtown, which left them with a number of empty lots and a weak downtown, which took years to recover. In the wake of this demolition, OKC had to resign itself to less grandeur than it would’ve wanted, although with the Oklahoma City Thunder coming ever closer to a championship, the city gets closer and closer to its originally desired grandeur.

Bucharest Civic Center

Built in the 1980s under the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, Bucharest’s Civic Center is a typical example of urban grandeur. Centered around the Union Boulevard, a street similar in style to the Champs-Elysee (1 meter wider, in fact) that runs east-west, this corridor of massive socialist-realist apartment blocks and tree-lined sidewalks was meant to convey the awesome power of which the Socialist government of Romania was capable. Ceausescu was mainly inspired by his 1971 trip to North Korea, where he was impressed with the development under Kim-il Sung and his Juche ideology. The Civic Center is flanked on its east side by the Palace of Parliament, a super-massive structure that stands as the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon. On the west side of the Center lies the Victory of Socialism Plaza, a large three-way roundabout. The scale of construction was so massive, that significant portions of the historic neighborhoods of Uranus, Antim and Rahova neighborhoods were completely wiped off the map. This process displaced more than 40,000 residents, forcing them to move to more outlying portions of the city. There still lay significant portions of the Center that were never completed, as the regime had not the time nor the funds to complete this mega-project. The communist government of Romania fell in 1989, and no further progress was made.

Sources: Cantacuzino, Serban, and Tabacu, Gabriela. Bucurestiul Meu. Humanitas, 2016.

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