Buildings and Places, Cities, Construction, Infrastructure, Transportation

I spoke on a panel this week in London at Bisnow’s “Building for the Future” conference. What never ceases to amaze me when I am in London is the amount of construction throughout the city. On a similar pace to New York City, there are over 455 tall buildings planned or under construction in London, and we’re thrilled to be part of this energy with our work on the 67-story Spire London.

Two key drivers of this development are high levels of overseas investment and the infrastructure race. Both cities are growing due to an increased amount of investment from foreign stakeholders. In 2016, New York attracted nearly $9 billion of overseas investment. Likewise, in the first six months of 2017, outside investors spent over $5 billion on London development.

Another trend in both cities is transit-oriented developments and associated infrastructure expansion and improvement. You can see this with our work on Hudson Yards in New York City – the 7 Subway Extension was a vital part of the entire area’s revitalization and was the first new subway station in over 25 years. In north-west London, AECOM is leading a team to develop the master plan for the Old Oak Common site, a transformative urban regeneration project at the point where High Speed 2 and Crossrail 1 will intersect. High Speed 2 will be the U.K.’s second high-speed railway, connecting to the cities of Northern England. When complete, Old Oak will be the best connected site in the capital.

At AECOM Tishman, our experience in the vertical market is a skill set that is highly exportable and serves us well abroad. When combined with AECOM’s master planning and engineering prowess, it allows us to partner with cities and developers throughout the life cycle of a significant project like Old Oak.

Overseas investment and the infrastructure race increase affordable housing options, address the desire for more public green spaces, and bolster economic activity. London, like New York, must think through complicated logistics, prioritize the preservation of views, focus on social equity, and work to ensure local policies are met. In this way, both cities can successfully contend with the rapid pace of development taking place globally.

One look at the ever-changing skylines of these two cities – the number of cranes on the ground, the tall buildings beginning to make their vertical ascents – and it’s clear why New York and London are the only Alpha++ cities in existence. By advancing infrastructure, continuing to welcome overseas investment, and allowing room in iconic skylines for new additions, they will grow. It will be exciting to follow this progress and see how it is matched in cities across the globe in years to come.

Originally published Oct 18, 2017

Author: Dan McQuade