From ancient times, what made a city a city was how it functioned, not how it looked. And this is especially true today, for we have not built a single old-style downtown from raw dirt in seventy-five years. »
(Joel Garreau, Edge City: Life on the New Frontier, Chapter 2)
This is how Joel Garreau described in 1991 the trend in urban planning in USA and in most developped countries. Downtowns were a thing of the past, office parks, shopping centers, single-family houses and motorways were the future. One of the symbols of this « Life on the New Frontier » was Tysons Corner, an area capable to attract offices and retail, but lacking public space. (the description of Tysons Corner by Joel Garreau, is here).
A typical road in Tysons Corner (image: Microsoft Virtual Earth)
18 ans later, Tysons Corner has become one of the symbol of post-war urbanism’s excesses: the lack of public spaces forces dwellers and workers to go everywhere by car, and traffic jams occur every day.
In order to solve the problem, Fairfax county approved a master plan which will thansform Tysons Corner in an « old-style downtown »:
- A new metro line to Washington,
- a new series of pedestrian spaces,
- smaller blocks and more through roads.
(image: Tysons Tomorrow)
After Brasilia, another 20th century city reinvents itself.