The recent Age/AP headline was intriguing.
The chance for planners and designers to get on with it without being bothered by real people! The following summarizes what led to the headline.
‘A scientific ghost town in the heart of southeastern New Mexico oil and gas country will hum with the latest next-generation technology – but no people. A $US1 billion city without residents will be developed in Lea County near Hobbs, to help researchers test everything from intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks to automated washing machines and self-flushing toilets.
The Hobbs Mayor, Sam Cobb, said the unique research facility that looks like an empty city will be a key for diversifying the economy of the nearby community, which after the oil bust of the 1980s saw bumper stickers asking the last person to leave to turn out the lights.”It brings so many great opportunities and puts us on a world stage.”
The town will be modelled after the real city of Rock Hill, South Carolina, complete with highways, houses and commercial buildings, old and new. No one will live there, although they could as houses will include all the necessities, like appliances and plumbing.
The point of the town is to enable researchers to test new technologies on existing infrastructure without interfering in everyday life. For instance, while some researchers will be testing smart technologies on old grids, others might be using the streets to test self driving cars. “The only thing we won’t be doing is destructive testing, blowing things up – I hope,” said Bob Brumley, a senior manager on the project.
One big plus for the choice of the New Mexico site was its federal research facilities like White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico and Los Alamos and Sandia national labs. Apparently no tax breaks were given for the development, but guidance has been asked for. Development cost is estimated at $US400 million, although overall investment in the project could top $US1 billion. The project is expected to create 350 permanent jobs and about 3,500 indirect jobs in its design, development, construction and ongoing operational phases.
For the full article see http://www.theage.com.au/technology/sci-tech/the-1b-newtown- where-nobodys-home-20120510-1ydl8. html#ixzz1uQGSmzHj
Also in UDFQ 98: June 2012:
- Scenic reflections
- Urban Design Forum approaches 100 – let’s celebrate!
- Urban design in regional cities and towns
- Malcolm’s Ten Commandments for 21st Century Urban Design
- April Urban Design Forum in Melbourne
- A story of three redgum benches
- International Urban Design Awards
- The Journal of Urbanism: Call for papers Special Issue: The future of single-family detached housing
- Working effectively in regional cities - an urban design consultant’s perspective
- Dollars and good sense
- Victorian design review gets underway
- New urban design writing by Barrie Shelton
- Melting the needs/wants dichotomy