The future of suburbs may already be here


Lush green suburban lawn. By Sam DeLong, via Flickr


Housing affordability has always drawn first-time homebuyers to the suburbs. The increasing population of millennials in the suburbs, with their “there’s an app-for-that” outlook, has the potential to redefine suburban life.

In an op-ed for the New York Times, professor Alan Berger writes about how the millennial generation “find[s] beauty in the utilitarian, and they know just how quickly radical technologies can change everything- including the suburb they want to call home,” says Berger.

Berger highlights key changes to suburban design that could serve millennial—and other—residents in the future. Berger argues that incorporating technology  to revolutionize design and planning to transform suburban living can make suburbs more efficient and sustainable, and the future of autonomous vehicles and drone delivery will revolutionize commute times and the movement of people and goods. Additionally, environmentally conscious design tools like decreasing lot sizes and increasing green space will eliminate pavement, allowing for more flexible landscaping to accommodate storm runoff and flooding. Strategic parking of autonomous electric cars has the potential to minimize energy use and harmful environmental impacts, according to Berger. He emphasizes that the creation of shared public access areas, drone ports, and car pullovers will be necessary in order to reshape suburban traffic patterns to encourage safe separation of pedestrians and moving vehicles.

Shifting the understanding of suburbs and exurbs from discrete units to integrated regions can bring together the natural environment and technological systems.

For the full story, read more at The New York Times.

Alan M. Berger is a professor of landscape architecture and urban design at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a co-director of the MIT Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism and a co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Infinite Suburbia.