We are living in a global suburban age. Modern suburban development has endured in our cultural imagination for almost a century. While statistics demonstrate that the amount of the world population in metropolitan areas is rapidly increasing, rarely is it understood that the bulk of this growth occurs in the suburbanized peripheries of cities. Domestically, over 69% of all U.S. residents live in suburban areas; internationally, many other developed countries are predominately suburban, while many developing countries are rapidly suburbanizing as well.
The Spring 2014 Scaling Infrastructure conference is CAU’s second and final infrastructure conference of our biennial theme that will convene political leaders, infrastructural engineers, design professionals and academicians to discuss groundbreaking ideas on infrastructure. Faced with new economic, political, and environmental challenges, the question of appropriate infrastructural investments and design scales is critical to the future of urbanized territories.
On November 4th, an important conversation about future directions in design and research will occur around the theme of integrated infrastructure: "Interwoven Purposes: Elements of Intelligent Infrastructure". There has been considerable hype about infrastructures that serve several differing goals simultaneously. For instance, roadway surfaces that also absorb energy lost in the resistance between rubber and asphalt; or train stations that capture more broadly, connecting energy, transportation, and data. What are some of the recent concepts for such devices and forms?
Can a typical American city be transformed from a collection of fragments assembled regionally by interstate highways, to a more durable regional constitution, using targeted infrastructural investment projects? A positive answer would imply that it is possible to use infrastructure designs and investments to leverage results beyond the realm of transportation of goods or labor; in the realm of culture, public space, architecture and landscape form. This question frames the first conference of the Center for Advanced Urbanism.