The contours of an urban renaissance—long in the making—are quickly coming into focus. Massive societal and economic changes are converging to create a new urban reality, a transformation of importance to the millions of Americans in the nation’s metropolitan areas.
Demographic changes are creating markets for mixed-use and mixed-income models of urban design. Job growth in advanced industries fits the preferences of knowledge workers attracted to urban neighborhoods. The “smart” institutions of the new economy, such as research universities and medical centers, are becoming the knowledge anchors of cities, spinning off employment, contracts, businesses, residences, and public amenities. Global energy challenges are putting a premium on core city locations and on public transit. New technologies are matched to creative financial architecture to advance concepts of sustainability, walkability, and affordability.
As a result, cities are becoming denser, more diverse, smarter (as measured by the skills of their residents), safer, more dynamic, more interconnected, more social, more environmentally aware, more attractive as 24/7 locales, and more essential to the nation’s prosperity.