MIT Future of Suburbia Conference

FUTURE OF SUBURBIA: REPORT FROM CAMBRIDGE

Summary:

One statistic that stood out – 90 percent of Americans live in suburban areas, while only 10 percent live in urban cores. Also, 80 percent of Americans wish to live in a detached home. As millennials get older, more will be married and begin having children, making suburban living all the more desirable. In the United States, the denser the community, the fewer children there are.

Just take a look at San Francisco, where there are more dogs than children and families are increasingly moving out of the city, or Manhattan, which has the lowest percentage of children in the country. It is also the highly educated and majority white that are moving to city centers, while two thirds of millennials do not have college degrees. It seems that what people truly want in their hearts, is being mixed up with costs, in both the city and suburbs. Economist Jed Kolko described the

process as circular – where do people want to go, what is the economic situation, and where are the externalities. Kolko admitted it’s hard to quantify how much demand for suburbia is an impact of policy, or consumers’ hearts.

Takeaways

Topics included innovation in cities, and economic and cultural trends, including immigration, demographics and lifestyle preferences, and how these forces interact in the urban, or suburban milieu. As population grows and technology improves, the researchers predict that the urban suburban divide will disintegrate, resulting in a continuum of urbanity, one that takes form as a poly-nodal fabric of different hubs of innovation, living and sustainability.

Also, we learned how important it is for urban designers to collaborate with business leaders, economists, and city officials, and the community residents themselves to design and implement the most appropriate and beneficial suburban structures. These fields traditionally function in silos, but the future requires that these disciplines co-mingle in the creation of sustainable, productive, and creative places to live. If we focus less on the semantics of the urban-suburban divide, and channel our energies on creating better places to live for all types of people, more will benefit.

New Geography article by Alicia Kurimska dated Apr 6 2016

 

 

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