A Bridge to the Future: Reimagining the 21st Century City

Research Category: Interdisciplinary Topics, Centers and Institutes
Presenter: Christopher Li
PI: Ryan Salvas

The changing nature of society creates unplanned and often chaotic growth of urban centers. In the mid Twentieth Century, the prevalence of the automobile spawned urban flight and the creation of suburbs throughout the United States. Specifically in Boston, these developments infected the cityscape with a crippling highway system that led to a fractured city. Historic Boston, a predominately pedestrian city, responded poorly to the rapidly changing needs of its citizens. This reactionary approach to urban design is common to cities throughout the world despite its repeated lack of success.

The coming century promises even more change: technical advancement, increased economic stratification,, and the imminent threat of global warming. In order to prevent the same failures of twentieth century, cities like Boston must anticipate the future with a multi-step method that embraces change by creating a framework for controlled yet adaptable growth. Our approach is to implement first a new energy producing building type that will prepare the city for its transformation while remediating a dependency on fossil fuels. Then a new infrastructural datum for which the city can grow will be created through the construction of a series of urban planes. The urban planes, constructed elevated land, provide new space for construction while stitching together the existing urban fabric of the city. By creating a new sustainable and flexible model for urban centers, we provide a means for our cities not only to keep up with our changing society but also to evolve with it.