Reasons to be Hopeful on Earth Day

Great challenges are ahead, but so are great possibilities.

SOM
SOM
Apr 20, 2017 · 6 min read

by Philip Enquist

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Image © NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data from Miguel Román, NASA GSFC
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On the San Francisco Bay, the India Basin project will transform a former industrial waterfront to build a new community in balance with the site’s natural hydrology and topography, preserving its marshes and grasslands. Image © SOM | steelblue

It’s up to us — as engaged citizens, architects, and urban planners — to take the lead.

These three areas — transportation, energy, and health — used to be isolated disciplines. Now, they are coming together in quite a remarkable way, and cities will be reinvented to reflect this. Advancements in data science will only accelerate this transformation by giving us metrics to better understand the impact of how we design and what we build.

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Left: Wind turbines are built into the upper floors of Pearl River Tower, leading a new generation of sustainable skyscrapers. Photo © Tim Griffith. Right: AMIE 1.0 uses 3D printing and wireless energy technology to demonstrate possibilities for a clean energy future. Photo © Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
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The redevelopment of the former rail yards at Denver Union Station is a case study in the power of sustainable, transit-oriented urban design. Photo © Levi Wells
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The Chicago Lakeside Master Plan proposes transforming a vacant brownfield site on Lake Michigan in South Chicago into a sustainable, mixed-use community. Images © SOM
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The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River watershed, spanning from Duluth, Minnesota to the Atlantic Ocean, is home to over 50 million people. The Great Lakes Century Vision Plan addresses the international watershed comprehensively as a whole ecosystem. Image © SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE
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“Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin” presents a 100-year vision to guide planning and development in this international watershed. SOM produced the exhibition in partnership with the International Secretariat for Water and the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Photo © Tom Harris

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