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Cultures, Communities and Design

A New Suburbia in a post-COVID World?
G. Tierney
3:15 pm - 4:45 pm


This presentation examines the post-COVID-19 impacts on the workspace and what this could mean for central business districts [CBD’s] and the potential growth of neighborhood centers and the pre-existing towns around which many suburbs grew. Can urbanism exist outside of CBD’s in revitalized neighborhoods or suburban centers? Has this the potential to change suburbia from a dormitory to a holistic 24/7 culture? Surveys are indicating that at least 25-30%, of the office workforce will continue to work from home in a post-COVID world. With such a high percentage of the workforce continuing some sort of remote working what will this mean for traditional urban cores? And if up to 30% of the workforce are no longer working every weekday in CBD’s, where will they be working from? Is it realistic to expect that all of this population will be working from spare bedrooms or off dining room tables? Is there an opportunity here for remote or satellite neighborhood workplaces to develop? Could this be a workplace interpretation of Edward Soja’s “Third Space” , a [sub]urban hybrid distributed presence between home and the office which builds organically out of the necessity to address the provision of a safe and resilient workplace? The last critical design interventions into suburbia were realized by Arts & Architecture magazine’s Case Study House program in California during the 1950’s and 1960’s. With the increasing diversity and population growth of suburban centers, can we make the transition to densify their cores, thus going some way towards fulfilling Louis Wirth’s three characteristics of cities and urbanism – large population size, social heterogeneity and population density? Has the time arrived for the design community to re-engage with suburbia?


Gerry Tierney, Associate Principal and Mobility Lab Director at Perkins&Will, is studying the evolution of urban mobility and its impact on the public realm. A founder in 2009 of Mobility and the City’s REDCAR project, Gerry has collaborated with UC Berkeley’s TSRC on workshops addressing multiple aspects of evolving urban mobility. He has moderated panels at MIT’s 2015 Disrupting Mobility Summit, the 2016 AutomobilityLA “2050: City of the Autonomous Car” and has presented on the impacts of emerging mobility at the ASLA and the APA annual conferences, as well as at the University of Oregon’s SCI Urbanism Next Conferences. In 2020 he was a member of the University of California’s Institute of Transportation Studies expert committee for the Future of Public Transit and Shared Mobility Scenario Planning Workshop, sponsored by the California Resilient and Innovative Mobility Initiative, the TRB and the Climate Works Foundation. He is also the author of two chapters addressing the potential impacts of AV’s on the public realm in “Shared Mobility and Automated Vehicles” published in 2022 by IET. He continues his studies into the impact of TNC’s, micro-mobility and autonomous vehicles on urban design, placemaking, curb demand, augmented transit, and the future of parking.

Session Details
Track 1
3:15 pm - 4:45 pm
Tuesday 28th June, 2022
All session times are in Mountain Daylight Time (MDT)