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Entries in Work in the City (5)


Work in the City: Polycentric Cities 

Gensler New York's The Guild. Image © Gensler

In a recent Financial Times article, Kate Allen chronicles the rush back into urban centers from the suburbs built a generation earlier with the promise of being oases from the congestion of the city. Because of this kind of reverse migration and thirst for urbanity, the population of metropolises around the world is nearing record highs—but without the housing and other resources to match. That situation, compounded with the rising mobility of work, are creating a counter push. So while major cities accommodate growth by adding density to the traditional urban core, growth is also happening immediately outside of it. Suburban centers, for example, are urbanizing, generating jobs and attracting commerce from communities that fall within their own orbits; the same holds true for small cities and neighborhoods that fall outside of the center.

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Work in the City: Urbanization on the Edge 

The lines between traditionally segregated cities and suburbs are blurring as the breakdown between the spatial orders of work and lifestyle advances.

Conversations about urbanization tend to fixate on how the already large “mega” cities, like Lagos, Shanghai, and Mexico City, are swelling in response to global population growth and urban migration. The most urgent question then becomes: how do we prepare our cities for the momentous changes underway? But there is another detail to consider: According to the 2013 Census, many top-tier cities—New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and their European counterparts—are actually shrinking, while areas on the periphery, long considered second-tier cities, are experiencing significant growth. People are moving to these new urban clusters in search of a better and more affordable life. This migration of people from urban cores to edge cities, and the consequent densification of peripheral spaces, is part of what distinguishes the current centennial as the “Urban Century.”

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Work in the City: Alternative Spaces

Image © Gensler

Alternative spaces have always been part of cities. These peripheral, unregulated, often temporary spaces host projects and foster ideas that fall outside of the status quo but often end up going mainstream. Think of pop-up shops, farmers’ markets, makers’ forums like Etsy, and food trucks. Alternative spaces sit dormant with latent potential and when found serve as sandboxes for grassroots movements that organically grow out of the contemporary culture of urban communities. Co-working spaces are a quintessential example of this resourcefulness—a phenomenon that began around 2000 as the dot-com crash turned “third spaces” like coffee shops into communal workspace for a cohort of free agents.

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Work in the City: The Transportation Issue

Image © Gensler

Work in the City is a yearlong initiative directed at key drivers redefining how the rapidly changing landscape of work is influencing a new urban paradigm. It combines research, design thinking and unbridled creativity, and encapsulates Gensler’s ongoing commitment to ensuring global cities are vibrant, livable and sustainable platforms of economic growth and human interaction.

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Gensler Reimagines Work in the City

Image © Gensler

In 2013 Gensler launched a three-year initiative called Reimagining Cities aimed at prompting a series of conversations on how thoughtful, community specific design proposals can address nagging urban problems. Year one focused on the vitality of public open space and continued significance of the Town Square. Gensler offices around the globe created design based scenarios that presented alternatives to the ineffectual conventional wisdom espoused in too many critical public conversations happening in cities across the globe. Our design teams sought fresh solutions to seemingly intractable problems, from retooling pedestrian malls to capturing infrastructure projects as communal space, and in doing so reimagined how cities can harness the potential of open space to create more livable communities.

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