Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
The essay discusses the urban form problem in contemporary American mid-size cities, and the relationships between urban growth and residential models, in the light of ongoing demographic, economic, and environmental phenomena. Rediscussing typical urban growth models in American cities is key for the sustainable future of these communities. In a time of significant climatic transformation, traditional city models must be updated to generate renewed climate-resilient urban forms. That means reducing waste heat and greenhouse gas emissions through compact neighborhoods that integrate energy efficiency with transit and walkability. The first part of the essay introduces the topic of urban growth in the United States. Ongoing urbanization is considered in relationship to emerging climate phenomena, change in demographics, and housing market trends. The second part discusses the current planning debate in Oklahoma City (OKC), one of the largest and most populated cities in Central United States. In addition, the essay presents a selection of recent infill housing developments for OKC’s urban core, discussing how they are contributing to the debate on sustainable urban growth in the city.