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Suburban Migrations


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Talk on how immigrants are reshaping suburbia, delivered as part of AIA Baltimore's 2017 lecture series.

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Suburban Migrations

  1. 1. Suburban Migrations Amanda Kolson Hurley AIA Baltimore / BAF March 16, 2017
  2. 2. The suburb v. city binary “Have you ever lived in the suburbs? It’s sterile. It’s nothing. It’s wasting your life, and people do not wish to waste their lives once they’ve seen New York!”—Ed Koch, Mayor of New York City, 1982 “[The suburbs] are the future of the city; or they are the city of the future, if you prefer.”—Renzo Piano, 2015
  3. 3. “Little boxes made of ticky tacky” (Images: State Museum of Pennsylvania, below; Wikimedia Commons, right)
  4. 4. The secret history of suburban migration 19th-century communes and phalansteries African-American suburbs Streetcar suburbs and self-built/mail-order suburbs (Images: Wikimedia Commons, below left; Andrew Wiese, below center; Wikimedia Commons, below right)
  5. 5. Suburbia today  The U.S. Census does not define “suburb,” but demographers estimate that just over half of Americans live in suburbs (Frey 2010). 26 percent of Americans describe where they live as urban, 53 percent as suburban, and 21 percent as rural (U.S. Census).  In the 50 largest metro areas, 44 percent of Americans now live in racially diverse suburbs, with a nonwhite population of between 20 and 60 percent. Another 17 percent of Americans live in suburbs that are predominantly nonwhite (Orfield and Luce 2013).  52 percent of African Americans in the 100 most populous metro areas live in suburbs (Kneebone 2016).
  6. 6. Immigrants are transforming suburbia  There are 41.3 million foreign-born residents in the United States, 13 percent of the population.  In 2013, 61 percent of the immigrants living in the 97 largest metro areas lived in the suburbs. In 20 metro areas, the suburban immigrant population at least doubled between 2000 and 2013 (Wilson and Svajlenka 2014). (Map: Michael Bader, Metropolitan Policy Center, American University)
  7. 7. New modes of suburban living  Multigenerational and shared homes  Home as a source of income and/or site of production: accessory apartments, small-scale farming, in-home businesses (Images: Toll Brothers, below left; Associated Press, below center; Amanda Kolson Hurley, below right)
  8. 8. Accessory apartments: Montgomery County Accessory apartments, Montgomery County
  9. 9. Choy House, Flushing, Queens O’Neill Rose Architects (Images: Michael Moran/OTTO, below left; O’Neill Rose Architects, below right)
  10. 10. Repurposing the building blocks of suburbia La Gran Plaza, Forth Worth, and Pacific Mall, Markham, Ontario (Images: Mariachi Mexicanisimoshow/Youtube, below left; Pacific Mall, below right)
  11. 11. Opportunistic public spaces, aka tactical suburbanism (Images: Amanda Kolson Hurley)
  12. 12. Opportunistic public spaces, aka tactical suburbanism (Image: Amanda Kolson Hurley)
  13. 13. Transit and equity • METRO Blue Line light-rail extension, Twin Cities: connection to downtown Minneapolis • Purple Line, Maryland: connection to other suburbs and downtown Washington • Transit equity and displacement concerns (Image: Metropolitan Council)
  14. 14. “Return to the city” or continuing suburbanization? • The high cost of housing in many urban centers will keep pushing immigrants to the suburbs. • Some metropolitan areas may show a stark reversal of the late 20th- century pattern, with diverse suburbs surrounding majority-white centers. However, “vanilla suburbs” will likely persist due to resegregation. • The redevelopment of some suburban hubs into satellite cities (e.g. Tysons Corner and White Flint) could bring higher-skilled jobs to the urban outskirts.
  15. 15. Where we go from here • Fix zoning to allow for accessory apartments, “missing middle” housing, corner stores, and home businesses • Build bus rapid transit and light rail, especially suburb-to-suburb, but with measures to prevent displacement • Elect and hire more immigrants in local government • Deliver social services in ways tailored to the suburban environment • Prevent resegregation through mixed housing and proactive school integration • Support cohousing and new forms of live/work space • Get architects enthused about the suburbs and encourage officials and developers to raise the bar • Make community members feel safe. Anxiety about immigration crackdowns may keep people indoors and deter spending, harming local businesses and civic life
  16. 16. Brooklyn Park, Minn. (Image: African Immigrant Services)
  17. 17. Amanda Kolson Hurley