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Next Generation Infrastructure

Principles for Post-Industrial Public Works

Hillary Brown


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (5/15/2014)


The 2007 bridge collapse in Minneapolis-St. Paul quickly became symbolic of the debilitated interstate highway system—and of what many critics see as America’s disinvestment in its infrastructure. The extreme vulnerability of single-purpose, aging infrastructure was highlighted once again when Hurricane Sandy churned its way across the northeast United States. Inundating New York City’s vital arteries, floodwaters overwhelmed tunnels and sewers; closed bridges; shut down the electrical substations that control mass transit; curtailed gas supplies; and destroyed streets, buildings, and whole neighborhoods. For days and on into weeks, failures triggered by floodwaters deprived millions of electricity, heat, and water services.

How can our complex, interdependent utilities support an urbanizing world, subject to carbon constraints and the impacts of climate change? How might these critical networks be made more efficient, less environmentally damaging, and more resilient? Such questions are at the heart of the approaches and initiatives explored in Next Generation Infrastructure. With a better understanding of the possible connections between different services, not only can inadvertent disruptions be reduced, but crosscutting benefits and lower costs will be possible. Next Generation Infrastructure highlights hopeful examples from around the world, ranging from the Mount Poso cogeneration plant in California to urban rainwater harvesting in Seoul, South Korea, to the multi-purpose Marina Barrage project in Singapore. Five bold organizing objectives are proposed that, in the hands of decision-makers and designers, will help bring about a future of multipurpose, low-carbon, resilient infrastructure that is tightly coordinated with natural and social systems.

In their conception and design, the innovative projects highlighted in Next Generation Infrastructure encourage us to envision infrastructure within a larger economic, environmental, and social context, and to share resources across systems, reducing costs and extending benefits. Through this systems approach to lifeline services, we can begin to move toward a more resilient future.

Praise For Next Generation Infrastructure: Principles for Post-Industrial Public Works

"Next Generation Infrastructure: Principles for Post-Industrial Public Works is an inspiring argument for infrastructure that behaves like nature."
— ASLA's The Dirt

"Next Generation Infrastructure: Principles for Post-Industrial Public Works is a journey through Brown’s lively and facile mind. She has cataloged and taxonomized many public works throughout the world that harness innovative, sustainable methods and practices."
— AIA NY's e-Oculus

"Landscape architects who work with infrastructure projects will appreciate the broad look the author Hillary Brown takes at what’s needed to make infrastructure work in the modern world."
— Landscape Architecture Magazine

"[Next Generation Infrastructure] argues that even in the absence of federal will, we can reduce our carbons, protect our resources, plan for climate change and improve our milieu, all while saving money and reaping greater social benefits."
— Living on Earth blog

"Hillary Brown understands that—for our grandchildren's sake—we must rebuild America and, in doing so, re-imagine our interconnected infrastructure systems to make them more efficient, environmentally safe, and resilient in this age of global urbanization. This fascinating and important book should be required reading for our elected officials and policy-makers."
— Felix Rohatyn, Former Chairman, Municipal Assistance Corporation

"Next Generation Infrastructure is a forward-thinking manifesto; a gold mine of useful examples of infrastructural solutions from around the globe. This is a must read for anyone concerned about our urban futures."
— Adele Naude Santos, FAIA, Dean, School of Architecture + Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"America's ability to realize its full competitive potential and address its super-sized economic, social, and environmental challenges depends fundamentally on getting infrastructure right. This book reveals the enormous variety in how different sectors of infrastructure are designed, financed, governed and, as importantly, how it all works together."
— Robert Puentes, Director, Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative, Brookings Institution

"The bottom line-this is bold thinking about how to confront a looming problem of outdated and failing infrastructure systems that, if unresolved, could cripple the U.S. economy and lifestyle...Brown presents a positive and optimistic way forward, firmly grounded in current experience, pragmatic principles, and workable technology. If widely read, Next Generation Infrastructure can provide invaluable inspiration and guidance for next-generation decision makers."
— Urban Land

Island Press, 9781597268059, 264pp.

Publication Date: May 15, 2014

About the Author

Hillary Brown, FAIA, is founding principal of the firm New Civic Works and Professor at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York. Previously, Brown served as assistant commissioner of the City of New York, where she was founding director of New York’s Office of Sustainable Design.