Today, architects, designers and planners have greater access to technology and data, enabling them to work smarter and more accurately than they ever have before. This is good news because as our cities become more densely occupied and restricted, due to factors like population growth, new construction and rising sea levels, we must become more vigilant and versatile in our approach to expanding and building urban communities.

Today, I’d like to address some of the buzzwords associated with future cities. Below you’ll find three terms synonymous with discussing the topic and how they affect the urban areas of tomorrow.


After Hurricane Sandy tore through the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, displacing many and costing the country $71.4 billion in damages, federal regulations for developing in flood zones based on the newest FEMA flood maps tightened significantly, and regulations continue to evolve. Developers, architects and planners have been required to elevate their proposed projects higher above sea level, install mechanicals on top of buildings to avoid flooding outages, and execute innovative ways to reduce and redirect the incoming tides, among other measures.


Sustainability within cities continues to be a factor addressed in the media and by officials, whether it is effective road management, cap and trade, sustainable energy, public transportation, or a zero-waste program. Here are some effective ways cities are collectively working to reduce their carbon footprint: replacing diesel transportation fleets with hybrid and electric buses, electrified taxi fleets, and new metro lines; using renewable energy such as solar and wind; erecting towers that intentionally manipulate shading to control temperatures, as well as cast light to maximize vegetation.


With the majority of American cities seeing their population increase significantly year over year and rents continuing to climb, city officials are faced with the epic challenge reducing living costs. Some of the ways cities are making rents more affordable is through new development and redevelopment mitigation. Developers in many cities across the U.S. are required to build a percentage of their project affordable or donate monies to a state’s affordable construction budget. Developers have also cut back on size of units (known as micro-units – see Curbed for reference) to appease specific markets, while lowering rental costs – a strategy that countries like China have implemented for decades.

What innovative developments are happening in your city? Let us know on Twitter at @SMCRealEstatePR.