Creating Productive Urban Landscapes: An Emerging Framework
As we embark upon the “Century of Cities,” the promise of urban growth and opportunity is increasingly tied to the most foundational of elements: the availability and cost of urban land. Even in resurgent cities, where historic disinvestment has left vast swaths of under-utilized land and recent population and job growth promises strong returns on investment, urban land often remains a key—or even the key—constraint to further development. The visual evidence is jarring: On the ground, many American cities today are patchworks of hyper-demand and vibrancy, and vacancy and blight. In this talk, a regional economist and landscape architect discuss the practical challenges created by existing land utilization regimes, as well as project experiences with far-sighted urban stakeholders who are experimenting with ways to transform vacant and underutilized land into an asset that can support economic growth, social equity, and environmental health. Using evidence from projects in Atlanta, Detroit, New Orleans, and other US cities, Teresa Lynch and Chris Reed present the outlines of a new, multi-disciplinary framework for conceptualizing and utilizing urban land, and discuss the enormous challenges that remain.
Teresa M. Lynch is founding principal of Mass Economics. Her work focuses on the intersections between growth and equity in urban settings and critical path items, such as land, density, and asset alignment. In recent years, Mass Economics work has focused on developing data systems and frameworks to identify inclusive development challenges and solutions at sub-regional geographies, whether sites, corridors, or cities. She was part of the MIT research team that produced How We Compete: What Companies around the World Are Doing to Make it in Today’s Global Economy. She received an M.A. in regional economics from University of Pennsylvania and B.A.s in Economics and Public Policy from UNC-Chapel Hill, is on the governing board of Mass Technology Collaborative’s Innovation Institute, and is a founding board member of the Venture Café Foundation. (Twitter: @masseconomics)
Chris Reed is founding director of Stoss. His innovative, hybridized approach to public space has been recognized internationally, and he has been invited to participate in competitions and installations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, the Middle East, Taiwan, and China. Reed's research interests include the impact of ecological sciences on design thinking, and city-making strategies informed by landscape systems and dynamics; he is co-editor of a volume of research and drawing titled Projective Ecologies, and is a contributor to the recently published Lincoln Institute book Nature and Cities. Reed received a Master in Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and an AB in Urban Studies from Harvard College. He is currently Associate Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. (Twitter: @chrisreedstoss)