Approaches to Planning

New York City has seen an influx of new structural and architectural initiatives, particularly in light of Hurricane Sandy. Cornish discusses different strategies to planning such initiatives. He discusses forecasting and backcasting, two approaches to account for the numerous variables that contribute to scenario planning.

How should architects and government officials, such as those who are part of Lightstone Group, integrate concerns of climate change into their designs? How should we, as New Yorkers, plan for the future? Should we forecast the future, and predict where we will be in X years based on where we are now? Or, should we backcast, in which case we would develop goals and work to achieve those goals?

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2 Responses to Approaches to Planning

  1. Derek Ku says:

    In John Ratcliffe’s and Ela Krawczyk’s Imagineering city futures: The use of prospective through scenarios in urban planning, they mention two of the most complex systems on Earth, the technosphere and biosphere interacting and in the process of that interaction harming each other in their planning and development.

    If we backcast, we would be observing conditions of the past which follow the assumption that we are consuming and producing at levels that “mostly resemble today” (Ratcliffe.2). He states a few problems: overpopulation, scarce resources, time-sensitive development, new technologies, complex economies, smaller enemies and more.

    Architects and government officials around the world should recognize that developing infrastructure requires integration with local cultures, climates, and government. This entails understanding the “stakeholders” involved, the “social network” created around the infrastructure, and the “consequences of present decisions” (Ratcliffe.6). As an example, a company builds a new office for employees in a developing industrial neighborhood, hosting new local retail businesses, creating new jobs. This sounds lucrative and productive for our society. However from an ecological standpoint: the building produce waste through material waste and carbon emissions. On a deeper level, creating this building in a developing neighborhood might gentrify the area and displace some existing tenants who cannot afford the rising rents, and higher cost of living.

    City planners should backcast to understand the case studies of how people were affected culturally and environmentally to see the consequences of infrastructural development, while forecasting to understand how our financial and economical resources will progress to fund our technological advancement.

  2. Amanda Huang says:

    I believe that a combination of forecasting and backcasting is necessary. The both work in tandem together, much like mitigation and adaptation. I personally think that, to the extent possible, newly constructed buildings, especially those near the waterfront (like Lightstone), need to be built so that they adapt to the changing conditions yet are elastic enough to change more if necessary. The only thing we know for certain is that the future is uncertain and anything can happen. New York City is too dense and important to take any risks.

    The government should offer subsidies for architects who takes steps to build more effective buildings. This will give architects and planners a necessary incentive. It will also be more cost-effective for the city in the long-run versus, say, waterproofing plant structures. This will also in turn gain more public attention and hopefully, create a trend in the future.

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