Rise of the Aerotropolis
The name wasn terribly auspicious: Nong Ngu Hao, the Swamp. But the location, a mammoth piece of ground in the sparsely settled landscape between Bangkok and the southern coast, was nearly perfect. Thailand leader at the time, the visionary if dictatorial replica louis vuitton handbags field marshal Sarit Thanarat, had chosen this spot to build his country bridge to the 21st century, in the form of a gleaming international airport. It would be a long time coming.
The field marshal died suddenly in 1963, and the airport was postponed for decades; meanwhile, Thailand neighbors either eviscerated themselves or else offered up their cities as the First World factories. By the time the 21st century actually came into view, the field marshal democratically elected heirs watched enviously as the Dells, Seagates, and Motorolas of the world parceled out pieces of their sprawling supply chains across Indochina, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for lottery winning cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
But before the end of this year, on a Designer Louis Vuitton Replica Handbags still soggy tract that now lies at the creeping border of Bangkok suburbs, a new $4 billion mega airport will finally open, forming the heart of a nascent city. When it finished, the erstwhile Cobra Swamp, now Suvarnabhumi (the Land will pump more than 100 million passengers a year through its glass portals, about as many as JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark aiports combined. Within 30 years, a city of 3.3 million citizens than Chicago now have emerged from the swampland.
To the jaundiced American eye, such a project might appear to be the terminal metastasis of the sprawl represented by O LAX, or JFK. But to dismiss it as the product of Asia infatuation with all things mega would be to miss the carefully calibrated machinery underneath. companies ignore at their peril at this time of escalating global trade and frictionless competition. It even has a name, the and a creator, John Kasarda.
In the relatively obscure world of urban planning, Kasarda, a professor at the University of North Carolina Kenan Flagler Business School, has made a name for himself over the past decade with his radical (some might say bone chilling) vision of the future: Rather than banish airports to the edges of cities and then do our best to avoid them, he argues, we should move them to the center and build our cities around them. Kasarda research has laid bare the invisible plexus of air cargo networks that have shrunk the globe (much as railroads did for the American West). And his conclusions are expressible as a series of simple numbers: Over the past 30 years, Kasarda will tell you, global GDP has risen 154%, and the value of world trade Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags has grown 355%. But the value of air cargo has climbed an astonishing 1,395%. exports, which are valued at $554 billion). Raw materials and bulkier stuff still take the slow boats, but virtually everything we associate with our postindustrial, value added economy pharmaceuticals, medical devices, Louis Vuitton handbags, sushi grade tuna via jumbo jet. We may think of the 1960s as the jet set era, but the supremacy of (soft) airpower has only now begun to reshape our ideas about how cities should look, how they should function. now effectively a part of global production systems, Kasarda says, without that connectivity, you out of the game. Hong Kong is premising its entire world trade strategy on the primacy of the airport: Its Chek Lap Kok already has a mini city stationed on a nearby island for its 45,000 workers, and SkyCity, a complex of office towers, convention centers, and hotels will soon be visible from its ticket counters. On the Chinese mainland, construction has begun on Beijing Capital Airport City, a $12 billion master planned city of 400,000, and a massive airport expansion is coming to the city of Guangzhou, in the Pearl River Delta. Thirty three miles to the south of Seoul, New Songdo City, billed as the most ambitious privately financed project in history, is taking shape in the Yellow Sea: The metropolis of 350,000 people, many of them expatriates living and working on site for multinationals, is being built on a man made peninsula the size of Boston.
The same process is taking place elsewhere in the world as well. Several cities in India will see their airports dramatically scaled up in the coming years. The endless building spree in Dubai includes construction of the world largest aerotropolis World Central will begin opening in stages as early as next year. (By the time it completed, DWC will have more than twice the capacity of Frankfurt airport and a permanent population of 750,000, all at an estimated cost of $33 billion.) In Amsterdam, office space next door to Schiphol Airport costs more per square foot than an open loft on one of the city picturesque 17th century canals.
Suvarnabhumi will be the largest terminal in the world when it opens this year. By 2036, a city of 3.3 million people than Chicago today have grown around it. A half billion dollar high speed train will connect the airport city to downtown Bangkok.
The aerotropolis represents the logic of globalization made flesh in the form of cities. Whether we consider globalization to be good or simply inevitable, it holds these truths to be self evident: that customers on the far side of the world may matter more than those next door; that costs must continually fake designer bags be wrung from every process; that greater efficiency is paramount, followed closely by agility; and that distance equals time, which equals friction. To cope with these demands, we already taken to living much of our lives in the digital world. But for every laptop order that zips to Penang via email, a real 747 must wing its way back with the laptop itself in its hold. If the airport is the mechanism making that possible, everything else offices, homes, schools be built in relation to it. is the union of urban planning, airport planning, and business strategy, Kasarda says. the whole will be something altogether different than cheap replica handbags the sum of its parts. state of the art today is the automobile, the jet plane, and the networked computer. Because of the airport, it possible to imagine a world capital in a place that was once an absolute backwater Los Angeles or a Dallas appearing in an utterly improbable location www.dolabuy.su , including Bangkok. budding city surrounding Suvarnabhumi illustrates Kasarda claim that three essential rules of real estate have changed from location, location to accessibility, accessibility. There a new metric. It no longer space; it time and cost. And if you look closely at the aerotropolis, what appears to be sprawl is slowly evolving into a reticulated system aimed at reducing both. In his sketches for Suvarnabhumi, the outermost rings extend nearly 20 miles into the countryside from the runways. There, giant clusters of apartment towers and bungalows will take shape; the former will house Thais working the assembly lines and cargo hubs in the inner rings, the latter the expatriate armies imported by the various multinationals expected to set up shop around the airport. (No fewer than 10 golf courses are planned to keep the expats happy, not to mention shopping malls, movie theaters, and schools that seem airlifted straight from southern California.)
Moving in from the residential rings, the next layer will likely be aaa replica designer handbags occupied by the manicured campuses of those same multi nationals back offices, R labs, and regional headquarters of the Dells and Motorolas that have been persuaded to relocate. Here, one will also find the hotels, merchandise marts, convention centers and everything to sustain the knowledge workers laboring in the shadow of the airport. In the innermost rings, essentially abutting the runway fences, will be the free trade zones, factories, warehouses, and logistics hubs designed for the FedEx/DHL/UPS combine just in time manufacturers and suppliers for whom time and distance from the belly of the 747 equals, quite literally, cost. New six lane highways will link the inner and outer rings, with semitrailers barreling down dedicated while residents stroll along prefab boulevards. A high speed rail link costing more than a half billion dollars will connect Suvarnabhumi to Bangkok.
is the key to Thailand growth over the next five years, says Suwat Wanisubut, director of the Suvarnabhumi Airport Development Committee. other project is this big. It will bring high tech companies to this region from Malaysia, Singapore, and even southern China. We are now competing directly with them, and even with Korea and Japan. a fondness for Olympian pronouncements, Kasarda is neither a Le Corbusier nor a Robert Moses (to name just two men who wanted to mold cityscapes in their own images). He sheepishly concedes that his visions of monstrous highways and multimodal cargo hubs would make Jane Jacobs late patron saint of human scale cities and turn in her grave. But Kasarda has moved beyond the comfy, retro dictates of the New Urbanists. He isn concerned with way we live now but with the naked realities of how we do business now.
Is the United States prepared for those realities? The closest thing to an aerotropolis in America today is Memphis International, home for 25 years to FedEx. Memphis has been the busiest cargo airport in the world now for 14 years running, a fact visitors learn before they even left baggage claim. Ninety four percent of that title is owed to FedEx, whose nightly is still one of the logistical wonders of the world: 200 planes descend in a swarm, disgorging more than a million packages and overnight letters that must pass through the interlaced conveyor belts and chutes of the matrix before being reloaded and shipped out.
Since its first sort in 1973, FedEx has become the largest private employer in a metropolitan area of close to 1 million people. The University of Memphis concluded in a study two years ago that the airport (and essentially FedEx) was directly and indirectly responsible for more than $20 billion in annual output and for 166,000 jobs of every four in the region. Only 30,000 or so of those are on FedEx payroll; the rest have flourished within the ecosystem of warehouses, trucking firms, factories, and offices nestled within its footprint.
On completion, the $33 billion Dubai World Central will be the size of O and Heathrow combined, with three times the cargo capacity of the FedEx hub in Memphis. DWC will house 750,000, making it almost as large as Stockholm. out West. That a lot of extra production. Jo Ferreira, FedEx managing director of hub area business development, routinely juggles the requests of as many as 40 to 50 companies jockeying for space around Memphis and smaller hubs like Indianapolis, Phoenix, and Oakland. matters more and more to them, she says, and Memphis offers an ideal combination of inexpensive, semiskilled labor, acres of turnkey warehouse space, and the junction of three states all fighting for their business. the biggest driver, Ferreira says, the growing urge that replica louis vuitton bags when we want something, we want it now. And as soon as one company relocates here or to any of our hubs, the next thing that happens is that three or four of its competitors come calling. while Memphis might qualify as a proto aerotropolis the FedEx hub providing just enough gravity to keep its customers from spinning out of orbit into Mississippi or Arkansas other American cities are even remotely ready to build their own analogues. The zoning is too haphazard, the NIMBY ism too rampant, the love of the strip mall and ranch house too profound. In other words, there a reason Kasarda could get his vision built in Bangkok but not Atlanta. And that high quality replica handbags china could be dangerous in the long run: companies don compete, he says. chains compete. Networks and systems compete. People forget that FedEx started in Little Rock, Arkansas, but the airport there couldn keep up FedEx founder Fred Smith looked around until he found one that could.
Kasarda is fond of quoting the biologist Sir D Wentworth Thompson insight that growth creates form, but form limits growth. The challenge facing our airports today is the same confronting any company that has at last high quality replica handbags china bumped up against the limits of its growth and is contemplating some creative destruction. Much like Microsoft and its dilemma about what to do with Windows, our airports are the operating system underlying a network that endlessly crisscrosses the globe. And like the software giant, they are bound to maintain backward compatibility with everything that has come to flourish around them. But whereas Microsoft only has to worry about its third party developers, urban planners attempting to retrofit an aerotropolis will be forced to choose between optimization and saving people homes. The consequences of each decision are equally stark: Either risk building competitive disadvantage into the very fabric of cities, or begin unwinding the fabric itself.
The Thais and other governments across the developing world play the part of Apple or Linux in this metaphor. Their willingness to break with the past in pursuit of something truly new stems largely from their having so little to protect. Indeed, the imposition of an aerotropolis may be one of the only remaining ways some developing countries can restore order to their collapsing urban grids, a process made considerably easier by the relatively weak civil rights of their citizens. In Dubai, for example, the emirate ruler and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has been building an aerotropolis basically by fiat for at least the last decade. Essentially a finger of sand jutting into the Persian Gulf, Dubai is almost always approached from the air. It also happens to sit less than an eight hour flight from half the world population. The $33 billion Dubai World Central, probably the purest expression of the aerotropolis concept to date, will unwrap its first ring late next year logistics hub with more than three times the capacity of FedEx in Memphis. Dubai Logistics City is to have its own access to the runways, a forest of warehouses and office space, processing for anyone operating within the zone, and enough on site housing for 40,000 workers. Some 1.2 million square meters of factory and warehouse space will serve customers including Boeing, Caterpillar, Chanel, LVMH, Mitsubishi, Porsche, and Rolls Royce. In the second ring, free trade zones like Dubai Internet City are to host the regional outposts of titans such as IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle. And in the outermost ring, prepackaged burbs such as Dubai Festival City will warehouse 77,000 residents, who will pass their days in one of the world largest malls, on a Four Seasons golf course, or working in one of the on site office towers that offer, according to replica louis vuitton its promotional Web site, thriving, dynamic centerpoint situated just two kilometers from the emirate award winning international airport. paid a visit to Dubai in February and found little more than a few apartment buildings, an Ikea, and a six lane highway leading to the airport a mile or so away. The man in charge of selling this city to its future inhabitants was an affable Canadian mall developer named Phil McArthur. At the end of my tour included all 18 holes on the golf course and watching Pakistani laborers getting bused back into the desert grilled him about whether anyone would want to live in villas built into the sides of sand dunes. already live here, he said best replica handbags , shrugging. then again, I know what coming, and when, so that makes me a little different from everyone else. Cure for What Ails Us? Kasarda obviously sees the aerotropolis as key to America competitive agility, and a critical one at that. Implicit in his thinking is a coming world of exponential population increase and cutthroat competition for resources and profits. His vision may evoke everything Americans find terrifying about globalization civilization cast in quick drying cement, packed with 1:1 replica handbags worker drones if you grant Kasarda seemingly implacable logic louis vuitton copy bags uk , you have to ask: How willing or able are we to adapt? Ours is a country, after all, that allowed Denver Stapleton to be abandoned outright after encroaching suburbs cut off its oxygen supply. Compare that with Suvarnabhumi, slated to become a self contained province governed by the prime minister himself, and it clear our squeamishness about dictating how and where our cities grow could ultimately come back to haunt us.
Nearly a decade ago, Kasarda met with World Bank officials in Bangkok to convince them of the broad social benefits an aerotropolis would bring. His sales pitch was ingenious: By helping to connect the city and the surrounding countryside to the rest of the world, Thailand would actually be furthering its own, seemingly unrelated goals for the region. It would improve the lot of women (by bringing in manufacturing jobs), help farmers and fishermen sell their orchids and tiger prawns overseas (by connecting them to foreign markets), and stem the flood of farmers into overcrowded cities such as Bangkok (by creating a new population center with a tremendous hunger for labor). Kasarda plea got nowhere at the time, but his thinking eventually won the Thais over.
In January, Kasarda made a similar pitch to another hard bitten city: Detroit. He had been asked to make his usual stump speech for a group of 60 or so University of Michigan architecture students who were about to undergo an annual urban planning exercise known as a Held every year by the dean of Michigan architecture school, each charrette contemplates a different aspect of Detroit ongoing attempt at urban renewal makes for plenty of ground to cover.