PlanPhilly

Infrastructure

    • Gothic detail atop the old West Philadelphia High School | PlanPhilly

What is the future for Philly’s closed school buildings? An invitation to have input in the process

The Philadelphia School District will continue to repurpose closed buildings for new uses to prevent vacant, outdated buildings from blighting neighborhoods and has plans to place approximately 20 properties up for…

    • Reinventing Older Communities

Federal Reserve 2014 Reinventing Older Communities Conference

From start to finish, this is one event you don’t want to miss. The Philadelphia Fed’s Reinventing Older Communities conference, Bridging Growth & Opportunity, will be held Monday, May 12,…

    • A vacant Keystone Opportunity Zone in Brewerytown

Keystone Opportunity Zones not designed to be measured

From where City Controller Alan Butkovitz is sitting, the Keystone Opportunity Zone program in Philadelphia is a major disappointment. Butkovitz released a report earlier this month saying that the program, which…

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ABOUT INFRASTRUCTURE

Infrastructure like roads, water pipes, and sewage systems is simultaneously the most crucial element of urban form while also being the least appreciated.  These forms often run below ground and out of sight and are typically paid for by government agencies, so builders and users alike often take their efficient construction for granted.  However, most infrastructure is very expensive to produce and absolutely necessary for successful urban design. Though its form is rarely seen or acknowledged when it’s working properly, its function can make even the most beautiful of streets an experiential nightmare.  It represents the building blocks of our built environment, and therefore typically comes first in most urban construction.


An important discourse on infrastructure planning, especially in today’s times of factoring energy consumption into the planning process, comes from the suburbs, where low-density developments are built on undeveloped land without previously laying the infrastructure foundation necessary to ensure that the homes are habitable. The sprawl requires local governments to extend public services out to reach these faraway developments, the cost of which can be exorbitant.  In fact, the square footage necessary to connect these distant communities often yields projects that are too expensive to cover with tax payments.  The current trend in planning toward “smart growth” initiatives encourages building in previously developed areas.  These areas are typically well-served by traditional forms of infrastructure.  This infrastructure provides important connections, but it is often aging and therefore requires millions of dollars in upkeep and maintenance, which city governments cannot afford on their own.  This is why infrastructure was central in President Obama’s economic revitalization strategy, highlighted by the “stimulus” bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

UPCOMING EVENTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE

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