This spring, the Center for Advanced Urbanism staged its first symposium — Infrastructural Monument: Infrastructure for the Long Haul — to consider how best to approach the challenge of replacing or reconstructing our urban infrastructure in ways that will address a widening range of urban problems. It was the first in a series devoted to a set of strategic design challenges facing cities worldwide.
The event drew an audience of about 250 architects, planners, urban designers, investors, developers, academics, policymakers and others to begin to explore the parameters of what might be possible, how much those parameters might be stretched, and how to work within them in a way that is both visionary and realistic.
The impetus for the gathering was many-fold:
- As our suburban regions become more intensely developed, more and more pressure is being put on existing infrastructure
- As urban infrastructures age, the need for their replacement and reconstruction becomes ever more urgent
- Research in climate change, economics, environmental performance and public health have created a need for broader systemic analyses of how infrastructures can serve multiple uses
- The targeting of specific projects that address multifunctional problems will be more effective than forcing the rewiring of entire regional systems
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