It is fitting that, as ULI prepares for the first time to venture outside the United States to hold one of its major annual gatherings—the Spring Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, beginning April 8—this issue of Urban Land has a thoroughly global streak. Vancouver itself is an international hub, connecting the two sides of the U.S.-Canadian border and drawing visitors, immigrants, and investment from the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Asian culture—and capital—continues to shape Vancouver’s development. Our package of stories exploring these influences begins on page 60 with Ron Nyren’s article about the feng shui principles underpinning many design decisions in Vancouver (and many other cities).
Globalism is, of course, reflected in our package of articles on Olympic cities—past and future—which begins on page 86. Although U.S. television coverage of the Olympic Games might lead one to believe that they are a biennial event (counting both Winter and Summer Games) at which American athletes who have overcome various domestic hardships compete against unknowns from elsewhere in the world, the Olympics were revived in 1896 to “help to build a better world through sport practiced in a spirit of peace, excellence, friendship, and respect,” according to the International Olympic Committee. The Games are also an unparalleled driver of rapid infrastructure development in their host cities, with varying degrees of long-term success. As you will find in Mike Sheridan’s article beginning on page 94, Rio de Janeiro is in the throes of preparations for the 2016 Olympics and, more immediately, the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament this June. And, beginning on page 86, Richard Smart reports on a ULI conference in Japan that explored what that country hopes to achieve by hosting the Games in 2020.
Also in this issue we debut what is planned to be a series of columns reporting on real estate issues in Europe. Lucy Anna Scott introduces us to Park 20|20 in Amsterdam, which embraces the concept of “Cradle-to-Cradle” design. Components of a building, even something as fundamental as a steel beam, are viewed as a resource that will be used anew in another application after the needs of the building’s owners and occupants change. This Amsterdam office complex, which is turning the process of design and construction on its head, may provide a glimpse of the future of green buildings.
This issue also presents several perspectives on housing—and housing markets. As he does in each issue of Urban Land, Ron Nyren elicits forthright opinions from leaders in ULI’s product councils concerning one aspect of the real estate industry. For this issue, his Roundtable interview focuses on multifamily housing—and the increasingly urgent question of whether the sector is becoming overbuilt. The Case Study that begins on page 148 offers another possible glimpse of the future, this time in the form of a housing development in Loudoun County, Virginia, organized around a working farm. With fresh-picked fruits, vegetables, eggs, and other foods produced and sold right in their community, the residents of the new Willowsford development are a living example of how building healthy places can change the way people live.
Editor in Chief