Cities of the Present, Cities of the Future: The Future Skyline

February 17, 2014

New York Times, Science Times Podcast

Science Times Podcast

Joan Clos, the head of the United Nations Human Settlements Program, put the current population of worldwide urban dwellers at 3.5 billion. He also estimated that that number could double in 30 to 40 years. The pressures of a growing population, aging infrastructure and the threat of climate change will strain cities worldwide in the coming years.

What have we learned so far about how cities function — and how they don’t? What is the role of that most symbolic of city features, the skyscraper? And is it possible to “break” a city? Five experts offered their perspectives on the use of data to solve urban problems, the ways in which the skyscraper is venerated and misused, and their best guesses on what the cities of the future might look like. They are: William F. Baker, a structural engineering partner at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill; Wiel Arets, architect and dean, Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture; Virginia Parks, associate professor, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago; Saskia Sassen, a professor of sociology at Columbia University; and Antony Wood, the executive director of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

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