The future of cities: Designing New York for 2030

What will New York City look like in 2030? Three architectural firms design the city's future, using high-speed transportation, green spaces and lots of ingenuity.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

What will New York City look like in 2030?

On Earth Day 2007, mayor Michael Bloomberg kicked off PlaNYC, a campaign to make America's most populous city greener and better by overhauling the city's approach to land, water, transportation, energy, air and climate change issues.

Plenty of those changes have happened, of course, but in the spirit of looking to the future, the editors of Newsweek published a new series -- "The Future of Work" -- for which they commissioned popular architects to reimagine America's urban centers.

The first edition? New York City, of course, Newsweek's home (and the city so nice they had to name it twice).

Taking on the project are three architectural firms: Richard Meier & Partners; Cooper, Robertson & Partners; and HOK.

Here is each firm's vision for NYC in two decades' time:

Richard Meier:

  • Focus: Dramatic increase in green space and public transportation.
  • Approach: Expansion of riverfront parks to make a "green periphery" around Manhattan. Expand cross-town public transportation.
  • How: 34th St. corridor and Hudson Yards area becomes "epicenter" of future public transportation. Penn Station rail service expands to Old Post Office Building. No. 7 subway line extends from 42nd St. to 34th St. near Hudson River.
  • Highlights: "Smarter" sustainable homes and offices that use natural resources; economies of scale; alternative fuel vehicles.
  • Goal: improve light, air quality, congestion, noise.

Cooper, Robertson:

  • Focus: Turn neglected space into new neighborhoods.
  • Approach: Overhaul dormant waterfront and underutilized rail yards.
  • How: New neighborhoods use "multimodal" transportation network, including light rail and bike share programs.
  • Highlights: High-speed buses and ferries; work near home; streetcars and bicycles; centrally-located green spaces.
  • Goal: New mixed-use neighborhoods support jobs and open spaces alike.


  • Focus: Make the green building the center of city living, working and playing. Reduce transportation congestion and boost personal mobility.
  • Approach: Make buildings self-contained, self-sufficient ecosystems. Focus on individual modes of transportation.
  • How: Reuse 100 percent of waste water using biological purification systems. Add micro wind turbines to roofs. Install self-cleaning "skins" with embedded solar panels to produce clean electricity.
  • Highlights: Small, automated vehicles; mass transit "pods"; green roof programs; wireless data and power; wind, solar and biomass power for residences.
  • Goal: Reduce unnecessary reliance on other parts of the city by consolidating activity in a section of the city.

The magazine has a great interactive presentation that allows the firms' project teams to explain their designs and visions. It's definitely worth checking out.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards