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A City is Primarily a Place to Work and a Place to Live

The Interactive Megalopolis is a necessary response to the escalating conflict between rising employer requirements for knowledge workers and quality of life concerns for urban residents. Quality of life concerns are not arbitrary subjective values describing aesthetic urban environments, but relate to and measure the cost of urban life of which the most basic needs are access to employment and housing.

When Hans Blumenfeld (1895-1987) stated the obvious that A City is Primarily a Place to Work and a Place to Live some fifty odd years ago, the maturing urban form was the metropolis brought about by changing industrial, commercial and residential location behavior made possible by the freeway. The expansive nature of the metropolis enabled residents to enjoy an unprecedented access to jobs and affordable housing.

In the ensuing years, urban planners have come to understand the limitations of an expanding road network as the environmental consequences of the automobile became evident. Today, most planners advocate "Smart Growth" communities as the proper environmentally sustainable response to urban growth. In an ideal world, it would make perfect sense to live in communities where you could walk or cycle to work. However, because hardly anyone stays with the same employer for 25 years at a fixed location and because spouses also work, it appears that the Smart Growth strategy is less capable in building compact urban communities than it was in the 1950's when employees did stay with a single employer for an extended period while their wives stayed at home.

Magplane Technology Inc. believes the popular adjective "Sustainable" describes not only environmental objectives but also economic objectives as well. The urban form ought to be able to adapt to both changing economic conditions and to environmental constraints. Federal, state and local agencies have embraced these two notions in many of their urban planning and transportation plans.

However, another objective is equally important. The urban form has undergone several important transformations but at every stage, Americans as a society enjoyed greater prosperity. The emergence of a growing middle class continued throughout the century as home ownership became more accessible. Housing quality increased with each successive generation, whether the tenure status was owner or tenant occupied. This social achievement was the most enduring urban quality in Urban America.

Magplane Technology Inc. strives to develop and deploy a transportation system that will enable the urban form to continue its evolution in a manner that is environmentallyeconomically and socially sustainable.

Periodically we will post a feature story to discuss an important theme of urban development, drawn from media coverage that highlights any of these three elements.

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