Designing the Megaregion
6 x 9
6 x 9
The US population is estimated to grow by more than 110 million people by 2050, and much of this growth will take place where cities and their suburbs are expanding to meet the suburbs of neighboring cities, creating continuous urban megaregions. There are now at least a dozen megaregions in the US. If current trends continue unchanged, new construction in these megaregions will put more and more stress on the natural systems that are necessary for our existence, will make highway gridlock and airline delays much worse, and will continue to attract investment away from older areas. However, the megaregion in 2050 is still a prediction. Future economic and population growth could go only to environmentally safe locations. while helping repair landscapes damaged by earlier development. Improved transportation systems could reduce highway and airport congestion. Some new investment could be drawn to by-passed parts of older cities, which are becoming more separate and unequal.
In Designing the Megaregion, planning and urban design expert Jonathan Barnett describes how to redesign megaregional growth using mostly private investment, without having to wait for massive government funding or new governmental structures. Barnett explains practical initiatives to make new development fit into its environmental setting, especially important as the climate changes; reorganize transportation systems to pull together all the components of these large urban regions; and redirect the market forces which are making megaregions very unequal places.
There is an urgent need to begin designing megaregions, and Barnett shows that the ways to make major improvements are already available.
"Jonathan Barnett … has written the definitive book on the subject of regional planning for contemporary times."
Planetizen: Top Urban Planning Books of 2020
"Barnett proposes practical solutions and offers commonsense observations on what to avoid in the future."
"Slim and thorough account."
"Jonathan Barnett clearly describes the roots and relevancy of many urban and regional forms and systems, providing an opportunity for shared understanding and collaboration by everyone interested in the fate of cities. Especially important, he lays out the relationship of fundamental policy choices to racial, environmental, and economic inequities, as well as pathways toward more equitable development. Readers would do well to consider Designing the Megaregion as a gateway to further investigation and an invitation to participate in the design of their megaregions."
Mami Hara, General Manager/CEO of Seattle Public Utilities
"Jonathan Barnett's practical suggestions for coordinated action at the local, regional, state, and federal levels to build sustainable, equitable megaregions will be of interest to planners, policy makers, and others engaged in urban issues."
David Rouse, FAICP, Urban and Regional Planning Consultant & former Managing Director of Research and Advisory Services for the American Planning Association
"In Designing the Megaregion, Jonathan Barnett cogently explains why developing frequent, trip-time competitive passenger rail service linking cities along fast-growing corridors in megaregions is the only way to avoid highway and aviation congestion."
Stephen J. Gardner, Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Operating and Commercial Officer, Amtrak
"Megaregions are becoming the new engines of our society. Jonathan Barnett opens new horizons to the challenge of integrating economic development, social equity, and environmental sustainability. Designing the Megaregion is a meaningful and inspiring contribution for the future of designing cities."
Alfonso Vegara, Founder and Group President of Fundacion Metropoli
Chapter 1: A New Scale for Urban Challenges
Chapter 2: Recognizing Ecoregions as the Context for Development
Chapter 3: Relating Development to the Natural Environment
Chapter 4: The Northeast Megaregion: Prototype for Balanced Transportation
Chapter 5: Progress Toward Fast-Enough Trains in Megaregions
Chapter 6: Achieving Balanced Transportation in Megaregions
Chapter 7: Inequities Built into Megaregions
Chapter 8: Reducing Inequality in Megaregions
Chapter 9: Adapting Governmental Structures to Manage Megaregions
Chapter 10: Rewriting Local Regulations to Promote Sustainability and Equity
A Design Agenda for Megaregions
About the Author
Cities are growing into megaregions. As these megaregions grow, we are at a pivotal moment where we can choose to create more meaningful, better connected designs. These designs should be informed by GIS data mapping of sensitive environmental areas. Layered upon that should be investments into high speed rail and affordable housing. Zoning, both up-zoning and an examination of historic exclusionary zoning, must also be factored in. Throughout all this, equity needs to be the defining narrative to ensure that all people benefit, and no one is left behind.
During this webinar you’ll hear from two urban planning experts who will explore these topics. Jonathan Barnett, author of Designing the Megaregion: Meeting Urban Challenges at a New Scale and Alan Mallach, author of The Divided City: Poverty and Prosperity in Urban America both present during this webinar.
We recognize that many are teleworking through this period, so join us for this live and timely event.
Participants of the live webinar are eligible for 1.5 AICP CM credits. Register via the link below.
Jonathan Barnett, emeritus professor of Practice in City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, joined Jeff Wood of Talking Headways on June 11, 2020. They discussed his new book, Designing the Megaregion: Meeting Urban Challenges at a New Scale. Barnett chats about where the idea of megaregions came from, environmental planning within the landscape, the importance of transit connections in these regions, and how we can coordinate megaregions administratively.
If you prefer to read rather than listen, excerpts are below the audio player, and a full, unedited transcript is here.
Jen Hawse is the Partnership Manager at Island Press. She’s a big fan of travel, craft beer, dogs, and eating amazing food. You can generally find her in the kitchen cooking with her partner, Jason, or trying to convince her friends to play a boardgame.