Chicken Little never accomplished much. “The sky is falling” is not going to make its way onto any good business plan—even if the sky were, indeed, to fall. Creative people and entrepreneurs would look into the opportunities presented for fallen-sky removal and for the creation of a new, improved atmosphere. The readers of Urban Land are of that more productive mindset, and such is the thinking behind the theme of risk presented in this issue.
We look at risk in its many forms, whether it comes from financial markets, government policies, severe weather, changing consumer demand—or the unseen threat that creeps up while you’re planning for one of those challenges. Resilience is a competitive advantage—it’s the new, improved atmosphere that replaces a fallen sky.
Global investment prospects are the focus of two lead stories in this issue. The Emerging Trends in Real Estate reports for Asia Pacific and Europe, prepared annually by ULI and PwC, are presented as a single, comprehensive review, starting on page 40. The markets are increasingly intertwined, with newly affluent tourists from Asia supporting retail businesses across Europe, and investors from around the world looking to new markets across the Asia Pacific region for investment opportunity. (The Emerging Trends report on the Americas was presented in the November/December 2012 issue of Urban Land, and the full texts of all three versions are available for download at www.uli.org.) Beginning on page 58, Hong Kong–based Andrew Ness, ULI’s lead research consultant for Asia Pacific, takes a deep look into the political transition underway in China and how that will affect the country’s massive housing market. And, in a story on page 36, four members of ULI’s Global Exchange Council share their thoughts about the markets and property types most likely to offer opportunity in 2013.
The physical side of risk is addressed by Rives Taylor, an architect who heads the sustainable design effort for Gensler. His article offers practical advice for designing buildings and site plans in a way that adds resiliency to the site and to the overall community. There’s no mention of sea walls, levees, or other physical barriers designed to stave off stormwater—though such measures are ripe for further discussion. Rather, Taylor writes mostly about creating redundancies in a building or project, and testing those backup systems to ensure their performance when the day comes that they are needed. According to Taylor, practically every aspect of a project can be designed in a way that enhances resilience. Hazards can be addressed head-on, say by sealing off critical utility rooms with hydrostatic doors that will protect needed infrastructure from flooding. Or potential hazards can be managed by less direct means, such as by creating a landscape that can accommodate rising water, and even supply the community with something to eat. How to pay for such measures? He addresses that, too.
Also in this issue, ULI Visiting Fellow Richard Florida presents another of his fascinating takes on how cities (and suburbs) are changing. “If our cities are reviving, it is happening on a fundamentally new set of terms—spatially, economically, and demographically,” Florida writes. He elaborates on that new set of terms beginning on page 74.
Our next issue, which will be delivered in March, will focus on the future, particularly on the ways land uses and consumer demand are likely to evolve. As the issue leads up to ULI’s Spring Meeting, being held May 15–17 in San Diego, a number of stories will focus on the land use issues facing this dynamic region. As always, I invite you to send us your thoughts and reactions to the articles presented in each issue. The easiest way to do so is by commenting on the stories when they are posted to Urban Land’s online magazine, www.urbanland.uli.org.
Editor in Chief