Monday, March 04, 2019

Autonomous Cars - Are they a magic bullet



Over the years it seems that there is always something on the horizon that is going to solve all our urban design problems. In the early 1900’s the implementation of zoning ordinances was supposed to be the magic bullet that would solve the difficulties facing cities at the time. Then there were highways, exclusionary zoning, easy to get mortgages, urban renewal, and pedestrian malls among others that were all going to solve our urban problems. Today we know from history that while each of these things had their benefits, they also came with unintended consequences and in the long run did not solve our urban problems. Today we have a new magic bullet on the horizon that many feel is going to revolutionize the world and solve all of our urban problems – the autonomous car.

Autonomous cars could have a major effect on our cities but maybe not in the way many people think they will. My first planning professor had a favorite saying, “What do we know about the future…nothing” and when it comes to autonomous cars there are those that believe that the adoption of autonomous cars will revolutionize our cities for the better. But as with all technological advances there comes a cost and what the final cost will be we will not know for some time. In addition, the changes we see will be different than envisioned and like so many of the magic bullets from the past, the unintended consequences may be more severe than we expect.

Monday, February 04, 2019

Life around Stadiums


Hundreds of Millions and even Billions of dollars are spent to build new sports stadiums around the country and each time it seems that the new stadium is more elaborate than the last one to be built. In 2009 the New York Yankees bought a new stadium that cost a whopping $1.5 billion dollars while in 2017 Atlanta built a new stadium for the football and soccer teams which came in at $1.6 billion dollars. Today I plan to talk about the football stadium in Minneapolis that cost $1.1 billion and the baseball stadium that opened on 2010 that cost a measly $555 million. While the cost can seem astronomical I am not going to be talking about the construction cost but instead I am going to discuss the urban environment around the stadium.

    While sports stadiums seem to create a lot of excitement when they are proposed and cities are willing to throw whatever money they can to get a stadium built in their location, like convention centers they often sit empty a majority of the time and can create dead zones around them. While on a trip to Minneapolis last summer, I was able to a take a close look at the area around the stadiums and see exactly what the urban environment looks like today.