A paper about the challenges for regional design in the Midwest.
Midwest Design Challenges
Regional design in the Midwest could be a very challenging thing. There are so many factors that come into play, as well as a wide variety of opinions and viewpoints. Each design decision has to deal with a number of different environmental, social, and economic problems. Many of the challenges that designers face have to do with people’s habits, opinions, and prejudices. Some of the main challenges facing regional design in the Midwest are suburban sprawl, changing the habits of people, and merging land inhabited by people, and land set aside for nature.
Very similar to Perth in Australia, many Midwest cities are experiencing suburban sprawl. In my opinion, sprawl may be the largest problem faced by designers, because it has negative social, economic, and environmental consequences. Cities are becoming much larger, but also much less dense. New development is leaving the cities, and developers are buying cornfields instead of reusing brown fields in cities. The social consequences are relatively obvious, rather than people living in dense communities with a diverse mix of people, they are moving farther and farther from cities, and in many cases they end up living in communities where everyone looks like they do. Economically sprawl destroys the core of cities. The new development in the cornfields around a city isn’t restricted to residential. Many companies move to farms and build massive glass boxes in the middle of a field. Sprawl is drawing all of the money out of the cities, partially in the form of taxes. This leaves the city with less money to make it more appealing for people to move back in. The environmental consequences are plentiful. The destruction of wildlife habitat and productive agricultural land is only one negative consequence. The lifestyle of those living in these massively “sprawled” suburbs is one that is completely dependent on cars. Each house has a yard that is too big, they use too many chemicals on it, they drive to far and too often, and these communities are constantly outgrowing the infrastructure. Sprawl creates massive problems, and it will be very hard to solve, because it is the cheapest way to develop. New designers have to make people see how reinvesting in cities will have more economic benefits long term, and how those benefits will outweigh the short-term benefits of developing cornfields.