Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Cities as a Lab: Designing the Innovation Economy

This is a good example of:

How cities are experimenting with innovative policy and design


Cities across the globe are facing both challenges and opportunity as the impacts of new technology, demographic changes and resource constraints converge.  Cities, suburbs and rural areas are having to restructure budgets, services, economic development plans, and the very design of their own communities.  Cities as a Lab grew from the realization that policy experimentation and implementation has migrated from federal and state level policy to regions and municipalities.

Cities as a Lab (146 pages) features seven sections on innovative design concepts, with examples and case studies for each.  Each section features images and graphs to support the text, as well as takeaways.

Innovation Districts: Building the Relationship Infrastructure –  Innovation Districts are creative, energy-laden ecosystems where innovative design and development patterns can help entrepreneurs, established companies, and leaders in all walks of life build unexpected relationships and find solutions. Examples: Boston’s Innovation District, North Carolina’s Research Triangle, and Las Vegas’ Downtown Project.

Co-Location: Creating Relationship Eco-systems – Places that enable such bump-and spark may be built from scratch, but they can also be creatively re-designed from existing buildings for uses that original builders would have never envisioned.  Examples: 5M project, NYC’s Made in Midtown , TechShop (Nationwide), and The Plant in Chicago.

Future Workspaces: Building for Collaboration –  New ideas flow more freely and have greater impact when they’re not confined behind cubicle walls or classroom doors.  Examples: Learning, Flexible Offices

Innovation Housing: Buildings for a Life Within Reach – Changing ways of life go far beyond demographics, of course. In an era of austerity, ‘simplicity’ sells, and architects have responded with new designs that make every cubic foot count.

Public Spaces: Fostering Connections – Better design creates more value: from new public gathering spaces, from stronger community identity, from safer and better transportation alternatives, from better environmental outcomes, and from better business.  Public Spaces include city streets and temporary architecture.


Temporary Architecture example from Cities as a Lab

EcoDistricts: Enabling Vibrancy, Ensuring High-Performance – At the core of this new urban design movement is the notion that districts are the best scale to accelerate progress: small enough to innovate more quickly, large enough to have significant impact without delaying implementation.

Resilient Design: Preparing for an Uncertain Future – Long-term planning, land use, zoning, building code enforcement, and even much of the physical infrastructure that collectively factors into the equation of resilience are all controlled by cities

Cover from American Association of Architects

Key Quote:

"If particular sections of the housing code are consistently being violated, that may indicate that its time to change the code." From the Innovation Housing Takeaway

URL link to Main Resource:

Project Location :

Washington DC

Development Context:





American Institute of Architects,

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *