Cities

The Evolution of Cities

At the beginning of the 21st Century, smart cities, information, and big data are becoming increasingly critical for the success of urban development. Typically,  smart city initiatives focus on real-time information and future innovations. Three urban researchers took a different approach. They applied big data to the historic evolution of cities since the neolithic revolution 6,000 years ago.  Meredith Reba, Femke Reitsma, and Karen C. Seto, from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and the Department of Geography at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, recorded, analyzed and visualized global, city level population data. The outstanding result is an improved understanding of long-term, historical, and contemporary urbanization trends and patterns.

This animated map illustrates the evolution of cities from the neolithic revolution to today. Source: Reba M, Reitsma F, Seto KC, 2016.  Spatializing 6,000 years of global urbanization from 3700 BC to AD 2000.

Innovation Adoption in the New West

Like no other place in recent history, the American West is a pure form of modern city development. Innovative industries, public institutions, and urban lifestyles have emerged and grown in conjunction with the discovery and exploration of wide-open land. Contrary to Eastern and European cities, where industrialization and urbanization evolved as radical transformations of agricultural societies, the unique architectural landscape of the American West was shaped by following four waves of technological innovation:

- Age of Steam, Railway, and Mechanization

- Age of Steel, Electricity, and Heavy Engineering

- Age of Oil, Automobile, Airplane, and Mass Production

- Age of Information, Communication, and Big Data

These platforms drive economies, social organizations, as well as the physical form of land, architecture, and cities themselves. Each wave of innovation creates a new opportunity to extract and exploit additional value from that which already existed. For cities to thrive, they have adapted to the introduction of transportation, energy grid, logistics, and internet platforms, until we land at the threshold of the 21st Century, where the New West is moving towards a balance of human potential, technological innovation, and nature.  

 This diagram illustrates the adoption of technology innovations in the urban development of the New West.  Source: WOWA WEST, 2017.

This diagram illustrates the adoption of technology innovations in the urban development of the New West. Source: WOWA WEST, 2017.

New West explores - from a client, owner, investor and user point of view - the architecture, cities, innovation, nature, and real estate that are shaping the evolution of the architectural landscape of the West. Innovation is found where traditionally opposing forces converge; at the intersection.