As I have been sitting in my home office the past weeks, sequestered into a lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, I am moved by an article by Dr. Richard Florida, published on March 27th, 2020 by the web zine CityLab entitled, “We'll Need To Reopen Our Cities. But Not Without Making Changes First.”
Dr. Florida is one of the more revered voices of our time when it comes to the topic of the built environment. His blending of theories of urbanism, design, and economics has yielded the coined term “creative economy” . His published work over the past decade has enthralled an entire generation, influencing policy makers and design professionals throughout the Nation.
In his recent CityLab piece, Dr. Florida suggests that there are essentially three components of our built environment that require immediate augmentation to make more resilient to current and subsequent threats of Covid-19.
1.) Transportation systems, particularly airports and mass/public transit: For obvious reasons, mobility of groups is threatened in a contagious environment. Mobility of people, goods and services are crucial components of our economy and society, so these issues take a high priority for corrective suggestions. It will take an intimate understanding of how transportation functions and is utilized to make smart decisions and investments moving forward.
2.) Large scale infrastructure and most specifically any facility that handles large groups of people: Most obviously, this can be qualified with stadiums, convention centers, universities, schools, etc. To become a functioning “socialized” society when under the threat of contagion, our facilities must have adaptations and policies in place to remain sustainable under duress, and continue operations – albeit under a different mode. Can we adapt current facilities to function in times of social distancing? Can we build new facilities to be more easily adaptable?
3.) Care of local economies: Small business and the economy of “Main Street” is one that will take a uniquely severe hit from these conditions. These local businesses and institutions have a vital place as a foundational party of our larger economy and society, and in times of extreme churn, need to be supported in any form they can receive.
I agree with all of Dr. Florida’s comments, but the third item is one that carries extra meaning to me and my professional efforts. In my many years of experience as an Architect and a community development leader, it has become clear to me that for a National economy to thrive, States and regions must thrive first. For States and regions to thrive, local economies must thrive first. And for local economies to thrive, Main Streets must thrive first. it sounds so basic and so simple, yet it is commonly overlooked.
Let’s all remember that during any crisis we face with Covid-19, we have an opportunity to make a shift in our reality that will span well past our lifetimes. It is our obligation to recognize the mistakes made in the past that made our society vulnerable to these diseases and the economic fragility we’ve built around it. We need to invest our time and energy to produce a stronger, more diverse culture and economy for our future and the next generation.
At CMDD, we not only look at creative architecture design solutions for real estate. We care passionately about the built environment and the communities that it serves. We’d love an opportunity to participate in your plans, projects, or policies that contribute to making the world a better place for you, your family, your business, and your community.