The Fight Against Climate Change Starts in Cities

Urban design can help to solve our most pressing environmental challenges.

Jul 11 · 6 min read
The master plan for Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station District represents the type of strategic development that can lead to a more resilient future: creating greater density around a major transit hub, while fostering research and collaboration between universities and the private sector. Image © Amtrak

Looking at cities holistically

Animated clip from a video introduction to RegenCities, an SOM research initiative seeking to balance equitable economic development with sustainability and public health. Image © SOM

Three key areas have enormous potential to transform the sustainable impact of cities: energy, transportation, and technology.

How will clean energy transform cities?

In Paris, the master plan for the Charenton-Bercy redevelopment applies a holistic energy strategy at the scale of a city district — combining a range of systems and new technologies to lay the groundwork for a “net-zero” future. Image © SOM

How should we reinvent urban transit?

Conceptual rendering of SOM’s vision to transform the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York City into a dedicated corridor for autonomous vehicles—allowing the street realm to be reclaimed for pedestrians, sustainable transit, and a greener urban landscape. Image © SOM
SOM’s proposal to rethink mobility in the City of London prioritizes walking and autonomous “microtransit” within the city core. Images © SOM

Holistic urban design can tie all of these threads together into a complete, coherent vision.

How will we define the “smart city”?

Excerpt from an illustrated brochure for the City of West Hollywood’s SMART City Strategic Plan. SOM developed this “graphic novel” to help educate local residents, businesses, and visitors about the plan’s innovative incorporation of smart technologies, digital tools, and data analytics. Image © SOM

We’re all in this together


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