A review of this issue of Urban Land brings two themes to mind: transportation and globalism. They are intimately intertwined, of course, with advances in transportation—along with the internet—enabling today’s global economy. The most advanced intermodal transportation systems being developed today acknowledge that relationship, with local rail systems branching out to connect international airports with the downtown core.
The massive redevelopment project underway at Denver Union Station, for example, ties together every transportation method save hot-air balloon. It is being designed to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, pedicabs, taxis, buses, and heavy rail and commuter lines. It also will provide critical links to Denver International Airport 25 miles (40 km) away. (That airport, with its white tentlike roof evoking snowcapped Rocky Mountain peaks, will welcome ULI members traveling to the Fall Meeting in Denver in October.)
"Move" is the overarching theme of this issue. Through 2012, Urban Land is following the pattern set forth in ULI’s What’s Next? publication, which addressed critical questions facing land use professionals in coming decades. Work. Live. Connect. Renew. Move. Invest. These chapters of What’s Next? address how society is changing in a revolutionary way, and none of it is more revolutionary than how we move about our cities.
Bicycling has grown from a child’s pastime to adult cardio challenge to an economical means to get around town. This issue offers a review by Martin Zimmerman (an avid cyclist himself) of how bike-sharing enterprises, enabled by internet connections and global-positioning satellites, are allowing this humble mode of transport to become one of the fastest ways to zip around traffic-choked downtowns.
This issue also devotes a lot of space to parking. Cars are often thought of as anathema to urban mobility: most transportation plans focus on ways to get people out of them. But an adequate amount of spatially efficient parking lends value to real estate developments. Getting people out of their cars and onto their feet does not necessarily mean getting people out of car ownership. At a recent housing forum in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing, a local developer noted that even when a multifamily residential building is located next to a transit station, most residents are still willing to pay for a parking space. Even if they take bus or rail for their daily commute, they want to stow their car nearby.
On the cover is a futuristic-looking example of automobile stowage. Adjacent to Volkswagen’s main plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, two 200-foot-tall (61 m) silos contain 400 new automobiles each. A robotic arm, which rotates and runs along a central beam, raises the new vehicles to their storage slot at a speed of two meters per second (about 5.5 mph). It was the inspiration for the automatic parking garage shown in the 2011 film Mission Impossible—Ghost Protocol. Were it not for the pesky trademark governing the sandwich-delivery machine, "automat" could take on a new definition.
The cover image—and stories throughout this issue—reflect ULI’s increasingly global focus. At ULI-sponsored events in Europe and Japan, for example, members were discussing real estate finance in the wake of the euro crisis, with Japanese experts calling to mind their own financial turmoil of the 1990s—and pondering how Europe’s experience may differ from theirs.
And we offer a look at a major waterfront-reclamation, mixed-use project under way in Sydney, Australia’s Darling Harbour. Again, with this story, the link between transportation and globalism is apparent: a key component of the Barangaroo project at Darling Harbour is a restoration of shipping facilities, designed to raise the prominence of Sydney as a Pacific port.
It’s not just capital and goods flowing freely across borders these days. Ideas are traveling fast, too.