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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: If you believe some Hollywood producers, cities of the future will be awful places inhabited by gangs of thugs on motorcycles, speeding past smoking piles of rubble. But talk to an architect, and you’re likely to get a whole different view. Sandy Hausman got an earful when the History Channel hosted a contest for design teams to share their vision of cities 100 years from now.
ANNOUNCER Teams, please step away from your stations. [Buzzer sounds] Let’s give everyone a round of applause. [Applause]
SARAH HAUSMAN: After a week of brainstorming, teams of architects in the nation’s three largest cities unveiled models of urban centers one century from now.
In Chicago, where the skyscraper was born, the winning team thought buildings would get even taller to accommodate a much larger population.
SARAH DUNN: We’ll see the kind of growth in Chicago that we see now in the Southwest. When water finally disappears in the Southwest, people are going to have to move.
Architect Sarah Dunn says Chicago, on the shores of Lake Michigan, will guard an increasingly scarce resource: fresh water.
That’s why her teammate, Martin Felsen, suggests replacing many of the city’s smaller streets with eco-boulevards where storm and waste water could be captured and cleaned before flowing back into the lake
MARTIN FELSEN: The eco-boulevard works through natural processes, using micro-organisms, invertebrates, fish, plants — indigenous plants.
While Chicago sits by the water, New York may sit under it.
Adam Yarinsky of the Architecture Research Office, says global warming is expected to cause seas to rise and cover some neighborhoods
ADAM YARINSKY: The bad news is these low-lying areas of Manhattan are inundated. The good news is there’s plenty of river views available.
He and partner Stephen Cassell proposed a new kind of building called a vane — a horizontal skyscraper stretching over the water.
In Los Angeles, a city perched on the edge of a desert, architect Eric Moss also fashioned the future around water. He wants to capture rainfall and snowmelt in the usually-dry concrete channel known as the Los Angeles River:
ERIC MOSS: You dam the river. You sail boats in the river. You ride bikes along the river and so on. So you have a really kinetic, animated, live river zone.
Moss would also reconnect this city of sprawl by putting buildings, bridges and parks over the divisive freeways, railroad tracks and power grids of L.A.
He and the other architects believe in their visions of clean cities powered by the sun and wind, with more open space, better mass transit and more beautiful structures than ever before
MOSS: What we propose is doable, plausible, implementable. It’s not Jules Verne. It’s not a fantasy.
The winning team in each city got $10,000 and the chance to compete for more prize money when the best city of the future is chosen early next month.
I’m Sandy Hausman for Marketplace.