Last summer I did some work with my friend and colleague Josie Kressner applying our data-driven model to potential AV scenarios. I wrote this up over at the Transport Foundry blog in a series of three posts:
Modeling autonomous vehicles with passive data Modeling shared autonomous vehicles Modeling private autonomous vehicles
Last night I read the surprising announcement that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is financing the development and construction of a 32 floor residential and commercial building in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. The Church has owned this property for a while, and has already begun construction on the adjacent Philadelphia Temple, to be opened in 2016.
The Church is no stranger to urban development. A central doctrine of early Mormonism was the idea of Zion, a city where the faithful would gather to prepare the world for the return of Christ.
Note: This essay was originally written for Brian Stone’s graduate Land Use and Transportation Course.
The true center of the new [suburb] is not in some downtown business district but in each residential unit. - Robert Fishman The typical city in the United States in the early part of the twenty-first century has a radically different urban form compared to its urban predecessors at the turn of the nineteenth or even the twentieth. Fishman, in the quote above this essay, argues that the modern city has completely disintegrated into the homes of its residents in an extreme polycentrism that is fundamentally different from what existed before. There was once a true center, in “some downtown business district,” and now there is not; each family or domestic unit has turned themselves inward towards their own lives and home rather than engaging with society around a particular core. This perspective is certainly valid, but is nonetheless urban-centric. There is a parallel perspective – if not necessarily a competing one – that the “true center” was never in that business district to begin with.
In the classic Robert Zemeckis movie Back to the Future, Marty McFly explains to Doc Brown that the Delorean/time machine he (Doc) invented is nuclear-powered,1 and that the only obstacle to sending Marty back to the future (1985) is obtaining some plutonium. I love Doc’s response:
I’m sure that in 1985, plutonium is available in every corner drugstore, but in 1955, it’s a little hard to come by.
The irony in this statement of course being that in spite of sweeping changes to fashions, music, politics – and Marty’s own mother – plutonium is still mercifully difficult to obtain, and the future Doc Brown had to contract with Libyan terrorists to get some.