Publication: MONU 26: Decentralised Urbanism
Author: Ian Caine
Date: Summer 2017
The drive across Texas is a glorious adventure, rewarding travelers with a dazzling array of forests, cities, mountains and deserts. The 812-mile excursion is also grueling, consuming no less than 12 hours and two full tanks of gas. The road trip itself is a powerful experience, one that compels travelers to submit to the unbound character of the landscape. Infinity is an existential quality in Texas. It radiates from the long sky, illuminating the region’s politics and people.
Texas Unbound proposes a similar surrender, to the decentralized condition that defines urbanism in the Texas Triangle. This rapidly expanding megaregion—anchored by Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio--contains five of the United States’ ten fastest growing large cities . In 2009, the Texas Triangle was home to 15 million people, covered 60,000 square miles, and expected another 10 million residents over the next 45 years . The region’s staggering growth is the result of massive oil and gas extraction, continuous immigration from Mexico and the U.S., business-friendly regulations and reliably low housing prices.
The vast majority of the 66 counties that comprise the Texas Triangle maintain population densities below 400 people per square mile, while metropolitan areas rarely exceed 3,500 people per square mile [3,4]. To put this in perspective, the population density in Los Angeles is 10,806 people per square mile, or about three times that of a typical city in the Texas Triangle . Universally low density, coupled with a populace that is dispersed among five major metropolitan areas, make decentralization the baseline urban condition in the Texas Triangle. In order to build a relevant theoretical framework in this context, one must enjoin a lineage that embraces the nodal structure of Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City; the cumulative growth of Patrick Geddes’ conurbations and Jean Gottmann’s Megalopolis; the spatial diffusion of Wright’s Broadacre City; and ultimately, Henri Lefebvre’s theory of complete urbanization, which obliterates the classical distinctions between city, suburb, and countryside . This sweeping intellectual trajectory ends with the conceptual dissolution of the city as a bound metropolitan unit. In its place a polycentric, diffuse urban structure emerges that answers to a variety of names including urban conurbation, megalopolis, and megaregion. The following eight vignettes seek to capture the unbound characterof the Texas Triangle in words and images, generating new insights into the conditions of decentralized urbanism in the region.
The center is no longer the center. Main Plaza, San Antonio, Texas.
The edge is no longer the edge. Uptown, Houston, Texas.
Anachronism is the new history. John T. Floore Country Store, Helotes, Texas.
History (still) matters. Misión San Antonio de Valero, San Antonio, Texas.
Private is the new public. State Highway 30/Future Bullet Train Station, Brazos County, Texas.
Cars are (still) the future. US Highway 75 at I-635, Dallas, Texas.
Bigger is (still) better. San Marcos Outlet Malls, San Marcos, Texas.
Hybrid is the new mixed-use. Fuel-City, Dallas, Texas.
Decentralization is the new normal. The Texas Triangle Megaregion.
Anachronism is the new history. John T. Floore Country Store, Helotes, Texas. In Texas, geographic displacement begets chronological displacement. For proof, look no further than Helotes, Texas (population 8,104), where it appears that the historical shelf life of a city may be about to expire. Helotes is perhaps best known as home of John T. Floore Country Store, the city’s iconic honky-tonk that opened in 1942 and quickly made its legend hosting musical greats like Elvis Presley, Patsy Kline, and Hank Williams. Three-quarters of a century later, country music devotees continue to pack the venue’s long, wooden family-style tables for some of the hottest tamales and coldest beer in South Texas. On a good night, they’ll catch a set from the immortal country crooner Willie Nelson.
Recently John T. Floore’s has become harder to find, its perch in Helotes bypassed years ago by a divided arterial roadway. Decades of leap-frogging sprawl from expanding neighbor San Antonio now engulf the Helotes honky-tonk, which finds itself awash in gated subdivisions, rising property taxes, and familiar big box offerings from Target, Lowe’s, and Home Depot.
It’s towns like Helotes that bring the confounding challenges of decentralized urbanism into sharp relief. As cultural phenomena go, Helotes is an enigma wrapped in a riddle: the town that began as a roadside layover for stagecoach travelers is now a tony suburb of San Antonio, one of the ten fastest growing cities in the United States. Still, in 2013 Bloomberg Businessweek named Helotes as one of the fifty best places to raise kids in the U.S., citing the great schools, small-town charm, and a median household income north of $100k. The rapid transformation has become difficult for locals to swallow--not surprising in a town that was once the stomping grounds of Willie Nelson and his band of country Outlaws. So it is that Helotes’ legacy and San Antonio’s aspiration endure an uneasy standoff, each hoping that their complex history doesn’t devolve into anachronism.
 United States Census Bureau. "The 15 Cities with the Largest Numeric Increase between July 1, 2014, and July 1, 2015, with Populations of 50,000 or More on July 1, 2014."
 Kent Butler, Sara Hammerschmidt, Frederick Steiner, Ming Zhang. "Reinventing the Texas Triangle: Solutions for Growing Challenges." 14, 2009.
 U.S. Census Bureau. “Texas Population per Square Mile, 2010 by County.” http://www.census.gov/geo/www/tiger/index.html or http://factfinder2.census.gov.
 Zip Atlas. “Cities with the Highest Population Density in Texas.” http://zipatlas.com/us/tx/city-comparison/population-density.htm.
 Zip Atlas. “Cities with the Highest Population Density in California.” http://zipatlas.com/us/ca/city-comparison/population-density.htm.
 Henri Lefebvre. "From the City to Urban Society." In Implosions/Explosions: Toward a Study of Planetary Urbanism, edited by Neil Brenner, 36-38. Berlin: Jovis, 2014.
Images: Michael Wolf/BOARD Publishers (cover), BOARD Publishers (video), Chase White, Chase White, Chase White, Ian Caine, Ian Caine
THE CONTINENTAL COMPACT: EASTWARD MIGRATION IN A (NEW) NEW WORLD
Publication: Scenario 6 Migration
Authors: Ian Caine, Derek Hoeferlin
Team: Emily Chen, Tiffin Thompson, Pablo Chavez
Full Article: https://scenariojournal.com/article/the-continental-compact/
The geographic and cultural history of the United States is largely a chronicle of transcontinental migration and westward expansion. The epic story, both celebrated for its heroic conquests and decried for it devastating social and environmental impacts, comprises a number of well-known chapters including The Louisiana Purchase (1803), Lewis and Clark’s subsequent exploration of the territories (1804-06), The California Gold Rush (1848), The Homestead Act (1862), The Transcontinental Railroad (1863-1869), and more recently the massive tech migration to Silicon Valley (1970s-present) and influx of Mexican nationals to California (1980s-present).
Historian Leo Marx famously contends that the larger narrative of westward expansion was built on three foundational themes, each integral to the American psyche: the first involved the vastness of the physical territory, which was virtually unimaginable to the 19th century European mind; the second encompassed the cultural opposition between the eastern portion of the country, thought to be civilized and constrained, and the west, supposedly raw and untouched; and the third comprised the inclination towards geographic conquest, which was well-steeped in a Protestant ethos that characterized the natural world as lawless and in need of redemption .
Nowhere has the American disposition towards geographic conquest been more apparent than in the cultivation and maintenance of water resources. Federal dam and water projects in the American West appeared as early as 1877 when the Desert Land Act began gifting land to local farmers who agreed to irrigate their land. The Boulder Canyon Project Act of 1928 exemplified an early effort to introduce flood control, hydroelectric power, irrigation, water access, and recreation. Between the years 1945 and 1975, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation undertook a dramatic dam-building campaign that impacted virtually every watershed across the American West . This collective history reveals a cultural disposition to harness water resources for financial gain and perceived public good, all while enabling continued westward migration .
The Continental Compact proposes a new chapter for the American story, one that continues to leverage water resources for public good, but does so in a more ecologically viable way. In this alternative narrative, Americans make a radical retreat from the mythology of westward expansion, opting instead for a massive reinvestment in regions where water resources remain abundant and underutilized. This premise has very real origins in the current events of the State of California—geographic and spiritual mecca for westward expansion, yet home to recurring droughts that make continued migration virtually impossible. Continued westward migration relies on a continuous campaign of mechanical water conveyance, maintained via a massive, expensive, and ecologically devastating system of aqueducts, canals, pipes, and pumps.
This proposal contends that the next wave of transcontinental migrations will head east, supported by shifting public policies that stop moving water to people and start moving people to water. These transformational policies will forsake a historical desire to exert dominion over natural resources, instead adopting a more pragmatic approach that acknowledges the opportunities and constraints of local watersheds.
01: The Continental Compact
The water crisis in California is first and foremost a political crisis. Decades of public policy have created a massive system of water conveyance, fostering a fundamental misalignment between the supply and demand of water. An elaborate slew of public policies maintain the untenable status quo in California, which supports a system of water-trading between western states.
The Continental Compact sets the stage for a series of new transnational agreements that adhere to three simple principles:
+ Guide population growth towards water.
+ Allow water-starved regions to shrink via attrition.
+ Return the river to its hydrologic course.
07: From Megaregions to Hydrologic regions
The Regional Planning Association forecasts that urban growth in the United States will produce eleven megaregions by 2050. The Association suggests that six major trends will shape the country’s growth: global trade patterns, demographic expansion, inefficient land use, inequitable growth patterns, global climate change, and aging metropolitan infrastructure. They further recommend that federal policy-makers utilize a megaregional model to guide decisions regarding large-scale infrastructural investments . Remarkably, these growth projections don’t factor what will possibly become the most critical determinant of successful urbanism: water supply.
The Continental Compact recommends that policy-makers begin shifting their focus from megaregions to hydrologic regions, investing in water-rich local urban conurbations built around dams, rivers, and deltas. The Continental Compact re-invests the massive resources that support the existing aqueduct system into the construction and maintenance of new infrastructure in water-rich regions. This strategy reprioritizes ecological sustainability at the continental scale, renouncing our historically antagonistic relationship with local watersheds and topography, transcending national boundaries as required. The result will be a series of eastward migrations, supported by public policies that stop moving water to people and start moving people to water.
 Scenario Journal, “Call for Submissions: SCENARIO 6 Migration,” accessed April 30, 2016, https://scenariojournal.com/call-for-submissions-scenario-6/
 Leo Marx, “American Ideology of Space,” in Denatured Visions, ed. Stuart Wrede and William Howard Adams (New York: MoMA 1991) 63-64.
 William Wyckoff and William Cronon, How to Read the American West: A Field Guide (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014). 265.
 Wyckoff and Cronon, How to Read the American West, 266.
 “Megaregions,” America2050, 6, accessed April 1, 2016, http://www.america2050.org/megaregions.html
Images: Scenario Journal, Inc.; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Sara Carr Upton; remaining images by Ian Caine and Derek Hoeferlin
OBSERVATIONS ON THE BIGGEST GAS STATION IN THE WORLD
Publication: Log 35
Author: Ian Caine
Date: Fall 2015
“I wanted to build a facility that was bigger than need be,” explained Arch “Beaver” Aplin III to the Wall Street Journal in 2012. When he opened Buc-ee’s--a South Texas gas station featuring 60 gas pumps, 80 soda fountains, and 33 cash registers--few observers doubted that Aplin, the aspiring architect turned swaggering developer, had just built the biggest gas station in the world.
The location of the crown jewel in Aplin’s growing chain of gas stations was no accident: he cherry-picked the 19-acre parcel for a Texas-sized pit stop along the 79-mile stretch of Interstate 35 that connects Austin and San Antonio, two of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Weary commuters know they’re halfway home when they see the colossal canopy for Buc-ee’s on the horizon, an iconic reminder that an awe-inspiring machine awaits to fuel their tanks and stomachs with a steady stream of gasoline and carbonated beverages.
Meanwhile, voracious developers continue to swallow the remaining land between Austin and San Antonio, where settlers once divided the prairie into farms that home builders are now busy subdividing into culs-de-sac. So it is that these two historically isolated cities have begun traveling the road towards a collective future, one that will pass through the the seemingly endless row of self-service lanes at Buc-ee’s, transforming today’s commuters into tomorrow’s citizens of an I-35 megalopolis. Last year, Aplin doubled the number of gas pumps to 120. It’s starting to look like Beaver’s original plan was too modest: the biggest gas station in the world will turn out to be just big enough after all.
-Ian Caine, August 2015
Images: Anyone Corporation (cover), Ian Caine
THE STORY OF THE POST-STORAGE CITY
Publication: Lunch 12: Tactics (University of Virginia)
Team: Ian Caine, Curtis Roth, Rients Dijkstra
0. The Story of the Post-Storage City is a speculative design project that considers the tactical potential of severe constraint. The production of material goods has driven the economic, spatial and programmatic development of cities in the developed world since the advent of the Industrial Revolution. This project imagines a post-consumer city where the impact of material goods is dramatically reduced through the tactical removal of a critical consumer apparatus: Storage. The Story of the Post-Storage City envisions a world where closets, attics, garages and even streets become obsolete. It is a meditation on the prominence of tactical mechanisms in design. The project imagines that by altering a simple apparatus like Storage, it is possible to initiate a series of tactical responses that fundamentally transform the form of the city. The Story of the Post-Storage City suggests that the next urban revolution will emerge not from centralized planning, but rather from an accumulation of tactical decisions by individuals motivated by self-interest and severe ecological demands. The Story of the Post-Storage City imagines that by eliminating Storage, society can halt expansion into suburban and exurban landscapes, conjuring the possibility for a series of radically new urban configurations.
1. In the second decade of the twenty-first century, an unprecedented glut in crude oil prices led to skyrocketing levels of personal consumption and carbon emissions. In a desperate attempt to avert ecological disaster and maintain a semblance of global order, the United Nations introduced the Resource Scarcity Act of 2020. The authors of RSA 2020, as it became known, decided that the best way to curb soaring levels of personal consumption in the Developed World was to implement a single but severe restriction on the one thing that made consumer culture possible: Storage. The U.N. correctly predicted that limiting Storage would create a de facto tax on consumption, thereby forcing markets to generate a post-petroleum consumer economy. The mandate was simple but sent shock waves around the globe. The legislation consisted of just one sentence: The Resource Scarcity Act 2020 requires that everyone store all of their stuff in a U.N. registered Cube© equal in size to a 2012 Honda Accord.
2. This is the story of the Post-Storage City. It all began in 2020, a year that famed astrologer and newspaper columnist Jeane Dixon once claimed would witness Armageddon, but instead marked the death of consumer culture in the Developed World. The end came in the form of a fleet of white trucks that left manufacturing plants across the globe to deliver a seemingly endless supply of pristine white Cubes© to consumers in Singapore, Cincinnati and Sydney alike. Befuddled citizens, many who assumed that Cube© Day was a Y2k-like myth awoke to an alien landscape littered with plastic cubes. Twitter crashed with the hashtag “#WTF?” as distribution teams deposited the Cubes©, each 500 cubic feet in volume, onto front lawns, alleys and driveways around the world. Each Cube© came with a set of instructions from the U.N. As families gathered to read over the details of RSA 2020, they realized that the new restrictions on Storage would change their lives forever. By the time that the dust settled, lifestyles had shifted, economies distorted and cities transformed.
10. It didn’t take long for the form of the Post-Storage City to come into focus: The Hub-and-Spoke model of the traditional city gave way to a polycentric field of connected transit and distribution nodes. The space in between these nodes didn’t change much as people continued to use their car for trips to school, work and home. On Saturdays, however, Car Owners left their cars in the Cube© and made extended visits to catch up with friends who lived in the walkable nodes. As cities consolidated around new Distribution and existing Transportation nodes, expansion into the suburban and exurban landscape ended. Cities could no longer be described with a single image--the skyline panorama--but instead gained distinction through a diverse mixture of block configurations, Distribution Clusters, and transportation networks. Ultimately, the Post-Storage City of 2050 did not arise from a centralized planning process. Instead, it resulted from the accumulation of individual decisions, coordinated primarily by Home Owners at the scale of the lot and the block. Just as Otis’ elevator gave rise to the skyscraper, and Ford’s Model T fueled growth in the post-war American suburb; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s single white Cube© sent shock waves across consumer landscapes across the globe, changing the way that people stored their stuff, and ultimately, the way that they lived their lives.
Images: University of Virginia School of Architecture (cover), remainder of images by Ian Caine and Curtis Roth
INHABITING THE LINE: A DIGITAL CHRONOLOGY OF SUBURBAN EXPANSION FOR SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
Publication: International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing (Nicholas Bauch, Guest Editor)
Author: Ian Caine
Date: Spring 2017
This project explores the power of lines to tell stories. For architects, lines are elemental devices: they catalyze and structure our ability to describe space. But can they describe time and experience? The following case study explores this question in depth while tracking the historical expansion of suburban life in San Antonio, Texas. The research focuses on ﬁve roads, re-imagining them as a series of concentric timelines that stretch from the city’s historical center to its suburban periphery. To date the multi-disciplinary team—led by architect Ian Caine with collaboration from a historian and an urban geographer—has utilized three distinct media to represent the chronological growth of San Antonio: 1) a large two-dimensional timeline that the team exhibited in a museum gallery, 2) a video-based spatial-temporal narrative that simulated the experience of driving through the city, and 3) a web-based interactive timeline.1 This article establishes the merits of the ﬁrst two approaches—which are both complete—before speculating about the potential of the web-based version to recast the timeline as a narrative device capable of illuminating the complex relationship between time, space and experience in the contemporary city.
Over the past three years, our design team has experimented with three distinct conceptual approaches to build an urban timeline of San Antonio, Texas. With each progressive iteration, we tested a different medium, in an attempt to more fully represent the multifaceted reality of San Antonio’s suburban expansion. Taken separately, these three efforts provide critical insight into the individual capacities of various media to construct a spatial narrative. Collectively, they chronicle the progression of our thinking about the expansive potential that digital media possess to facilitate explorations of urban history. The project phases unfolded as follows:
Drawing the Line. The team began by crafting a 33-foot long by 9-foot high, two-dimensional graphic timeline tracking the expansion of a single road across parallel time and distance axes. The installation, titled Traveling on Fredericksburg Road: 120 Years in 12 Miles, also incorporated a nominal amount of digital media, using a monitor to display oral histories recorded from local residents and business owners.
Driving the Line. In the second iteration, the team produced a spatial-temporal narrative that explored a driver’s experience traveling on Fredericksburg Road. We assembled the narrative using footage taken from a dashboard-mounted camera, digital animations and a voice-over narrative.
None of the design team had previous experience working in the digital geo-humanities. Therefore, the article describes our initial excursions into this promising and relatively uncharted intellectual landscape. During our transition from physical to digital mapping, we spent the most time engaging four critical conceptual issues:
Convergence of time and space. Perhaps our greatest challenge has been ﬁnding a way to establish an appropriate hierarchy of time, space and experience. Inevitably, one of the phenomena emerges as a dominant element, rendering the other two as mere derivatives. These conceptual tensions were likely intensiﬁed by our project’s intellectual genesis within the discipline of architecture, which historically privileges spatial relations above all others.
Ability of users to interact with the timeline. We continue to experiment with the parameters of the timeline’s interface. The challenge is one of narrative control, balancing the needs of the user with those of design authorship.
Ability to convey place. We are testing new media in an attempt to ﬁnd one that transcends the simple representation of space. Our goal is to utilize one or a combination of formats that introduce experience, the critical but elusive prerequisite of establishing place .
Ability of the timeline to incorporate data. We continue to investigate the most effective way to incorporate data into the spatial and temporal structure of the timeline.
The team is now exploring these issues through a series of design prototypes for the web interface, several of which are discussed later in this article. Through this iterative process, the team is building a timeline that is more temporally precise, more spatially ﬂuid and one that more fully leverages human experience to build a robust and nuanced narrative of suburban expansion in San Antonio.
These discussions return us to our original question, which involved the capacity of digital technology to recast the timeline as an interactive device capable of representing the relationship between time, space and experience in the contemporary city. Digital technologies have clearly sharpened and expanded our work: establishing a more precise hybrid relationship between time and distance, increasing our ability to convey place through the addition of multi-media elements and allowing for the productive inclusion of data. Still, their use has also raised a number of theoretical questions, primarily related to the authority and transparency of the mapmaker’s voice and the optimal level of user interface. Clearly signiﬁcant epistemological questions remain involving the extent to which a deep map itself delivers narrative content .
One thing that our work to date has conﬁrmed, however, is the need for architects and urban geographers to generate new research methodologies capable of establishing relationships between the multiplicity of architectural, demographic and structural forces that comprise the contemporary city. As landscape architect Christophe Girot writes:
We know that the contemporary city is no longer the product of a single thought or plan, the vision of some prince, but rather the diffuse result of successive layers of decisions rarely having anything to do with each other .
Our research continues to use digital technology to lay bare these seemingly unrelated ‘layers’, banking on the capacity of these powerful new tools to make previously invisible relationship visible while providing deeper insight into the contemporary urban condition.
 Here we utilize Yi-Fu Tuan’s classic deﬁnition of place as space instilled with experience. See Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The perspective of experience. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1977. 6–7.
 Stuart Dunn, Lesely kadish and Michael Pasquier, International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing 7.1–2 (2013), 194.
 Christophe Girot, ‘Vision in Motion,’ in Charles Waldheim, editor, Landscape Urbanism Reader. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006), 91.
Images: Edinburgh University Press, Xuhua Cheng, Ian Caine, Xuhua Cheng, remainder of the images by Ian Caine
CHANGESCAPES: WALMART SUPERCENTERS AS CATALYSTS FOR TERRITORIAL CHANGE
Publication: Arqa 108
Author and Designer: Ian Caine
Team: Christopher Hernandez, Gilbert Pena
This design research examines the cycle of growth and decline associated with Walmart Supercenters as a way to reconsider the transformation of exurban territories in the United States. The project contends that many of the negative externalities associated with big box developments result from the difference between the financial lifecycles of buildings and infrastructure. The project seeks to re-align these lifecycles.
Since the first Walmart Supercenter opened its doors in 1988, the big box typology has emerged as the primary form of commercial development in North America . In the U.S. today, the ten largest retailers are all big box developers . Wal-mart’s extraordinary economic expansion is leading to previously unseen geographic expansion, fundamentally altering the physical form and scale of the U.S. landscape. With 4,663 domestic stores and counting, today Wal-mart Stores, Inc. may be the most important generator of urban form in the U.S. . Sound crazy? Consider that the total floor area of Wal-mart retail locations in the U.S. is now larger than the footprint of Manhattan .
It is difficult to talk about urban transformation in the U.S. without first addressing the issue of land speculation. For it is land speculation, above all else, that has historically driven development in the exaggerated capitalist landscape of the U.S. Not surprisingly, two of the most ambitious attempts to guide the country’s development are associated with efforts to minimize the negative externalities associated with real estate exchange: The Land Ordinance of 1785 and The Commissioner’s Plan of 1811 for Manhattan.
The Land Ordinance enabled the rectangular survey of the U.S., which rationalized a market that might otherwise have been plagued by leftover lots and awkward adjacencies. In this regard, the successful history of land speculation in the U.S. is due in no small part to the geometric regularity and predictability that emerged from the rectangular survey. Likewise, the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811 for Manhattan utilized the power of geometry to tame the uncertainties of a fickle real estate market. The introduction of the grid further revolutionized the legal and conceptual understanding of land in Manhattan, re-casting it as real estate: a commodity that could be bought, sold and re-packaged for economic gain .
In 2013, exurban communities in the U.S. would clearly benefit from a re-commitment to geometric regularity and economic predictability. Many of the negative externalities associated with uncoordinated commercial big box developments--underutilized and vacant structures, redundant parking, and ineffective storm water management, for example--can be attributed to uncoordinated speculation and a fundamental mismatch between the financial lifecycles of buildings and the surrounding urban landscape.
The ChangeScapes project intervenes in the typical development sequence of a greenfield Walmart Supercenter, leveraging the inevitable growth to achieve a more balanced relationship between public and private interests. The project re-conceives of parking, storm water, and circulation infrastructure as a public commodity; to be designed, built, and managed by the local municipality.
Big box developments and their surrounds accommodate a wide array of activities throughout the year. Some of these activities are cyclical in nature: a Saturday afternoon farmer’s market during the summer months, for instance. Other programs are less amenable to change: housing is a good example of a program that doesn’t transform easily. The proposal aims to re-align these lifecycles by accommodating the divergent change increments required by various programs.
While the ChangeScapes scenario is highly orchestrated at the micro-scale, it does not involve active planning at the macro-scale. The territorial form of this landscape is therefore given over to multi-nodal and uncoordinated patterns of development. This situation reflects the fragmented local political structure that persists in the U.S.—a condition that renders synchronized regional planning virtually impossible. For better or worse, the development of exurban landscapes in such places will continue to emerge from the highly idiosyncratic process of land speculation as practiced by mega-developers like Wal-mart Stores Inc.
This project does not suggest that designers and planners should abandon urban processes to economic requirements and capital markets; rather, it seeks to empower decision-makers by giving them the tools to critically and proactively engage the change processes that drive the growth associated with big box development. Increasingly, the management of urban processes appears to offer the best opportunity to strategically impact development in exurban territories. With this in mind, the project makes the claim that contemporary urbanism isn’t the design of form: it’s the design of change.
 History Timeline. (2013). Retrieved February 5, 2013 from http://corporate.walmart.com/our-story/heritage/history-timeline.
2011 Top 100 Retailers. (2012). Retrieved May 5, 2012 from http://www.stores.org/2011/Top-100-Retailers.
Our Locations. (2013). Retrieved June 16, 2013 from http://corporate.walmart.com/our-story/locations#/united-states.
LeCavalier, J. (2012). All those numbers: logistics, territory and walmart. Places, Retrieved March 15, 2012 from http://places.designobserver.com/feature/walmart-logistics/13598.
 Ballon, H. (Ed.). (2012). The greatest grid: the master plan of manhattan 1811-2011. New York: Museum of the City of New York & Columbia University Press.
Images: arqa arquitetura e arte (cover), remaining images by Ian Caine.
SAN ANTONIO 360: THE RISE AND DECLINE OF THE CONCENTRIC CITY 1890-2010
Authors: Ian Caine, Rebecca Walter, Nathan Foote
Date: April 2017
Full Article: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/4/649
Abstract. This paper catalogs the suburban expansion of San Antonio, Texas by decade between the years 1890 and 2009, a time frame that saw the city reorganize its morphological structure four times. The city inhabited a 36-square mile grid until the late nineteenth century; expanded radially along streetcar lines during the early twentieth century; grew concentrically along automotive ring roads during the mid-twentieth century; and has assumed a polycentric organization within the past two decades. This research places San Antonio’s recent demographic and geographic boom into historical perspective, utilizing construction completions in host Bexar County to answer the following question: how did the form, location, and type of suburban growth shift over 120 years? The research reveals three trends: first, that historically concentric growth patterns began to assume a polycentric configuration in the late twentieth century; second, that patterns of centrifugal expansion began to accelerate dramatically during the same time period; and third, that the relative increase of multifamily completions has surpassed that of single-family completions in five of the last six decades. These findings suggest that the City of San Antonio, in order to establish a sustainable growth model, must prioritize the opportunities and constraints associated with polycentric suburban expansion.
Discussion. The current research confirms several critical trends: first, since the year 2000 San Antonio’s urban development has become increasingly polycentric; second, the rate of centrifugal growth has increased dramatically since 1990; and, third, multifamily housing is playing an increasingly large role in defining the form and program of the metropolitan area. Collectively, these trends attest to San Antonio’s emergence as a polycentric metropolitan area, where the vast majority of growth is occurring beyond the limits of the traditional city.
While this observation does not distinguish San Antonio among Sunbelt cities, it does represent a bold reconceptualization of the metropolitan region. Prevailing public images of the Alamo City focus almost exclusively on downtown, highlighting the beautifully preserved Spanish colonial grid, Alamo, Riverwalk promenade, and Mission district. This image is magnified by the city’s impressive record of historic preservation, which became even more distinguished in 2015 with UNESCO’s inscription of the San Antonio Missions as World Heritage sites. San Antonio’s historic emphasis on the downtown core has driven tourism and urban policy for decades. Still, the data makes clear that halfway through the ‘Decade of Downtown’, relatively little of the city’s development is actually occurring downtown.
The results of this research in no way diminish the physical and cultural importance of San Antonio’s historic downtown and Missions. Rather, they question the relevance of a concentric growth model in light of persistently scattered development patterns that favor the periphery. Modarres  (p. 120) makes the argument that in order ‘to build a sustainable, polycentric or networked city, we need to re-think our notions of urbanism, urban planning, urban management, and development’. Increasingly, the planning community in San Antonio is taking up this challenge while recasting suburban development as something more than an unfortunate aberration.
The recently completed 2016 Comprehensive Plan successfully challenges dated concentric models that would privilege the historic downtown and central business district. The current plan forecasts that no fewer than thirteen distinct employment centers will be required to absorb the continuing economic boom . This shift is noteworthy to the extent that it imagines the next San Antonio as a rapidly expanding, polycentric, decentralized landscape that will continue to resist geographic containment. Only by fully accepting this reality can San Antonio begin to generate sustainable growth policies that critically engage land use, transportation, open space conservation, and aquifer preservation.
The Comprehensive Plan’s decision to abandon a concentric model in favor of a polycentric one seems particularly appropriate given the lack of political will to implement growth restrictions, such as the ones that curtailed geographic expansion in Portland, Oregon . If policy-makers truly intend to guide growth towards a more sustainable outcome, they must assertively engage the suburban periphery. This will necessitate new approaches to land development that incentivize urban infill and density, not just in downtown and inner-ring locations but also in post-war suburbs and even at the emerging edge. This approach will require the development of new suburban prototypes that can increase densities and mix uses without the benefit of traditional urban morphologies. Such an approach may also begin to challenge the conventional wisdom that emphasizes the importance of leveraging existing infrastructures, particularly those with physical proximity to the historical center. While the logic of this position is clear, it does not account for the fact that, historically, most development has occurred at the periphery of the city, a zone that has moved continuously farther from the historical center since 1890 (Table 2, Figure 3).
In a span of several decades, San Antonio has emerged as the fastest growing major city in the U.S., easily outpacing Phoenix and San Diego, its two closest competitors . This seismic shift is placing unprecedented demand on local ecologies and infrastructures. It is also stretching San Antonio’s civic imagination, requiring policy-makers and residents to confront the unfamiliar terms of contemporary urbanism while relinquishing historic notions of a concentric city that lost currency after the Second World War.
As San Antonio scrambles to accommodate this growth, it must aspire to urban models that expand the physical and conceptual parameters of the Spanish colonial grid. Within this context, the theoretical framework of New Suburbanism becomes relevant, infusing the discourse with new ideas while avoiding the lament that often accompanies discussions of suburban growth. While efforts to preserve downtown and infill the central city remain vital, the next chapter in San Antonio’s story is being written at the city’s periphery and beyond. As San Antonio sets course for the next twenty-five years, it must continue to explore a more dynamic relationship with this emerging geography, conceiving a future sufficiently complex to befit the city’s celebrated past.
 MIG in Association with Economic & Planning Systems, Inc.; WSP; Parsons Brinkerhoff; Ximenes & Associates, Inc. City of San Antonio: Comprehensive Plan. San Antonio, TX, USA, 2016.
 Modarres, A.; Kirby, A. Viewpoint: The suburban question: notes for a research program. Cities 2010, 27, 114–121.
 Catenaccio, G. Urban growth boundaries: Two American examples. Projections 10: Des. Growth Chang. 2011, 10, 13–30.
 Gonzales, F. San Antonio: Demographic Distribution and Change 2000 to 2010.
Images: Ian Caine and Rebecca Walter
THE GEOGRAPHIC AND SOCIODEMOGRAPHIC TRANSFORMATION OF MULTIFAMILY HOUSING IN THE TEXAS TRIANGLE
Publication: Housing Studies
Authors: Rebecca Walter, Ian Caine
Abstract. This study catalogs the location, clustering, and sociodemographic distribution of the development of multifamily rental housingover the last five decades in the Texas Triangle, one of the fastest growing megaregions in the United States. The research reveals prior to the 1970s, apartments clustered in downtown areas; throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the development of apartments expanded to the suburbs and along major interstates; and in the 2000s, apartment growth continued in the peripheral areas while returning downtown. During this time period, apartments were developedmost often in majority White, high-income, and low-poverty neighborhoods. These geographic and sociodemographic characteristics challenge widespread conceptions that equate multifamily rental housing with central city locations and low-income populations. The findings suggest that multifamily rental housing offers a powerful tool to increase residential density in downtown and suburban locations, while also accommodating a sociodemographic diverse population.
Discussion. The results of this study clearly indicate that the location and clustering of multifamily rental housing development within the four largest MSAs in the Texas Triangle do not correspond to downtown or distressed neighborhoods in inner-city locations. Rather, prior to the 1970s, multifamily housing remained clustered in the downtowns of the largest cities; during the 1980s and 1990s, apartments expanded to the suburbs and along major interstates; and during the 2000s, the development of apartments simultaneously continued an outward growth pattern while returning to the central cities. All MSAs in the study area, with the exception of Austin, experienced a concentration of multifamily rental housing development in majority White, higher-income, lower-poverty neighborhoods regardless of the decade of development. The Austin MSA remained an outlier, as multifamily rental housing development consistently clustered in lower-income, higher-poverty, and minority neighborhoods. The overall findings suggest that multifamily rental housing, despite its historical association with inner-city, higher-poverty neighborhoods, has re-emerged in the Texas Triangle in predominantly middle-income White suburban neighborhoods.
Images: Taylor and Francis (cover), Ian Caine and Rebecca Walter
THE 21ST CENTURY RIGHT-OF-WAY
International Competition: Build-A-Better-Burb
Result: Finalist (23 finalists/212 entries)
Jury: Allison Arieff, Teddy Cruz, Daniel D’Oca, Rob Lane, Paul Lukez, Lee Sobel, Galina Tachieva, Georgeen Theodore, June Williamson
Team: Ian Caine, Derek Hoeferlin
The 21c Right-of-Way (R.O.W.)
21c R.O.W. is radical but real. It is a new suburban concept that will fundamentally alter the physical and legal structure of the strip.
The 21c R.O.W. does not require any new technology. It begins with the assumption that we cannot ‘invent’ a solution for our suburban predicament.
21c R.O.W. requires collective thought and action. It is implemented locally through the introduction of a new, coordinated municipal zoning structure.
21c R.O.W. balances public and private interests. It repositions the public sector as the long term guardian of infrastructure and public space, while freeing up the private sector to do what it does best: innovate and money-make.
The 21c R.O.W. expands the existing singular public right-of-way through private lots to create efficient parking, multiple access and comprehensive water management. In order to minimize the impact on developers, this right-of-way will track along existing demising lot lines--essentially acting as a thickened easement. Developers, in return for giving up this underutilized land, will receive full access to this new public infrastructure.
Clustered Lots = Efficient Lots
One of the best ways to retrofit thousands of acres of underutilized asphalt is to decrease the real estate devoted to parking and redundant infrastructure. In order to decrease the total amount of infrastructure on the strip, we propose to “cluster” adjacent parcels, thereby allowing them to share critical infrastructures including parking, pedestrian, bicycle and water management.
Individual Parking=Redundant Parking
Even the relatively conservative standards of the Urban Land Institute suggest that the Smithtown cluster case study has too much parking. The insertion of the 21c R.O.W. will allow Smithtown and other Long Island downtowns to consolidate parking.
Individual Access=Redundant Access
The insertion of the 21c R.O.W. will allow Smithtown to consolidate and expand access for pedestrians and bicyclists while reducing the number of car trips. Comprehensive on-site water management will retain and delay water before it reaches the storm sewer.
Municipal Annexation as a Mechanism for Suburban Expansion in San Antonio, Texas 1939-2014
Publication: ARCC National Conference Proceedings: Architecture of Complexity: design, systems, society and environment
Authors: Ian Caine, Jerry Gonzalez, Rebecca Walter
Abstract. This paper examines the history of municipal annexation as a mechanism for suburban expansion in San Antonio, Texas between 1939 and 2014. Annexation, which permits municipalities to enlarge jurisdictional boundaries by absorbing adjacent, unincorporated areas, emerged as a powerful governmental apparatus to grow Sunbelt cities across the postwar United States. Political elites in San Antonio began leveraging annexation with remarkable efficiency after World War II and continue the practice today. During the period under study, the city council executed 461 annexations and boundary adjustments, adding 497 square miles to the metropolitan footprint . The same time frame saw San Antonio grow to become the seventh most populous city in the United States, adding 430,000 people in the last decade alone, with another 1.1 million expected by 2040 . The continued use of municipal annexation as a way to grow the city has generated a wide array of responses among citizenry, ranging from strong support within development communities eager to access emerging markets, to opposition from historically disenfranchised neighborhoods where people contend that annexation further consolidates resources in middle- and upper-income areas of the city. This paper examines the historical roots of such positions in an attempt to clarify today’s contentious discourse on annexation in San Antonio.
Conclusion. The history of annexation in San Antonio reveals that, where urban growth was concerned, the enduring competition between multiple, often diverging political interests produced a consistent outcome: the expansion of municipal boundaries. The city’s 461 annexations and boundary adjustments since 1940 testify to the formative role that annexation played in the political and geographic growth of the city . This is not to say that proponents of annexation were motivated by singular ambitions, or that the practice has yielded a predictable result. To the contrary, the practice of annexation has generated a wide variety of impacts and opinions: what began as a way for municipal government to consolidate tax revenue has become a rallying cry for anti-tax groups; where progressive elites tout annexation as a tool for coordinated growth, proponents of localism instead see a threat to political autonomy; while the San Antonio business community enthusiastically leverages annexation to expand economic opportunity, disenfranchised groups claim that it simply allows political and economic elites to consolidate power; and while some peripheral communities hold the hope that annexation can help them acquire increased political access and municipal services, others see it as an empty promise, guaranteed only to raise taxes.
Nevertheless, we can make several critical observations about the historical impact of annexation on San Antonio’s urban growth. First, while elites used the mechanism for decades to consolidate and extend their own political power, the Charter reform of the 1970s unquestionably spread the benefits of annexation more evenly across city populations. Today, City Council and council districts represent voices that decades ago did not enjoy access to power. Still, the larger impact of the council system turned out to be more political than economic, as the vast majority of economic growth continues to appear on the north side of the city, which is disproportionately Anglo.
Second, the practice of annexation allowed San Antonio’s city government to capture a growing regional population and tax base that would have otherwise been lost to neighboring municipalities. It is no accident that San Antonio today boasts the seventh largest population among U.S. cities, despite its location within the twenty-fifth largest metropolitan statistical area in the country . San Antonio’s standing as one of the ten most populous cities in the U.S. continues to enhance the city’s national profile, helping it to attract new businesses and investment—a fact not lost on Mayor Cockrell over four decades ago. Annexation additionally preventedthe political fragmentation seen in so many other U.S. cities, allowing the city to maintain a relatively cohesive—if often contentious—public discourse.
Third, the practice of annexation in San Antonio accelerated the centrifugal expansion of population and investment. Massive decentralization resulted in the dispersion of industrial and residential program away from the city center and towards the suburban periphery. With the pattern of northward growth firmly established by the 1970s, annexation did more than stretch the political boundaries of the city. The integration of existing and self-sustaining neighborhoods exacerbated suburban isolation and increased overall wariness of centralized planning processes.
Finally, despite the positive overall impact of the city council system, the patience of working-class San Antonians wore thin as their communities continued to suffer infrastructural and representational neglect. In this regard, annexation intensified tensions up and down the class spectrum, and across racial lines. When the Justice Department found the city in violation of the 1975 amendments to the Civil Rights Act that guaranteed representative government, the city was forced to redesign its charter. Despite such signal achievements, the business of growth persists and is accelerating. Slow-growth NIMBYism has since become a steady companion to municipal expansion. This tension continues to produce fierce public debates over the limits of homeownership, environmental degradation, class privilege, and the integration of underrepresented people into civic life.
Against this complex and evolving backdrop, annexation continues to define spatial politics in San Antonio today. The long history of annexation has resulted in a widespread—at times fatalistic--acceptance of the practice. As local Council member Mike Gallagher recently concluded, “[w]e’re going to grow, no matter what. Either we are going to control it or someone else will .” So it is that the residents of San Antonio, like so many other Sunbelt denizens, can expect to contend with the continued costs and benefits of municipal annexation in the decades to come.
 “List of Annexation Ordinances,” City of San Antonio Department of Planning and Community Development
 Robert Rivard, “City Planning for San Antonio Growth Bomb,” Rivard Report, October 16, 2016 (accessed April 1, 2016).
 “Metropolitan and micropolitan statistical area population and estimated components of change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016 (CBSA-EST2016-alldata),” United States Census Bureau
 Edmond Ortiz, “City Staff Makes the Case for Annexation Plan,” Rivard Report, 1 October 2015.
Images: Integrated Technology in Architecture Consortium (cover), Ian Caine and Rebecca Walter, Ian Caine and Rebecca Walter, San Antonio Express, San Antonio Light, San Antonio Light, San Antonio Light
DRY FUTURES COMPETITION
International Competition: Dry Futures
Result: Honorable Mention (16 total selections/387 entries)
Jury: Allison Arieff, Charles Andersen, Colleen Tuite, Ian Quate, Geoff Managua, Hadley Arnold, Peter Arnold, Jay Famiglietti, Peter Zellner
Designers: Ian Caine, Derek Hoeferlin
Team: Emily Chen, Tiffin Thompson, Pablo Chavez
California – and much of the Western United States – is currently in the midst of a severe and unprecedented water crisis. After four consecutive years of exceptional drought, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order earlier this year intended to limit water usage and preserve the few resources that remain. But many worry that the measures amount to “too little, too late.” And the stakes couldn’t be higher: not only is California the most populous state in the country, it is by far the largest agricultural producer. Built on centuries of questionable riparian practices and infrastructure, this agro-industrial behemoth not only consumes the majority of the state’s dwindling water reserves, but amounts to a significant chunk of the national and international economy.
WATER MAY VERY WELL END UP BEING THE DETERMINING ISSUE OF THE NEXT CENTURY.
According to many experts, the drought in California correlates to both unsustainable human practices and the larger product of unsustainable human activity: climate change. It is simply irresponsible to imagine that a solution will magically appear off the coasts or in the clouds or anywhere else. California is on the verge of collapse. And for millions around the world – from Syria to Brazil – drought is already a determining factor in everyday life, creating conflict and reorganizing social relations.
While the practice of architecture may have not traditionally taken the primary role in determining how water is used, today, we no longer have a choice. Water is not only a fundamental precondition for dwelling, but the manner in which we choose to build (or not) is pivotal to the future viability of entire regions of the world. Water may very well end up being the determining issue of the next century. Yet, increasingly, it feels that the discourse of the “smart city” has overtaken all considerations of the future of architecture. How will ecological crises and technological advancement cohabitate the same future?
Archinect is launching a new competition oriented around the unfolding drought crisis in California. We believe architects possess a remarkable set of tools and skills that uniquely establish the capacity to adapt to a problem that is both multifaceted and enormous. We are looking for the imaginative, the pragmatic, the idealist, and the dystopian.
The drought crisis in California is first and foremost a political crisis. Decades of public policy have created a system of massive water conveyance, fostering and maintaining a fundamental misalignment between the supply and demand of water. The untenable status quo in California is maintained through an elaborate slew of public policies, designed to support a system of water-trading between western states in areas like the Colorado River Basin.
The Continental Compact proposes to fundamentally alter the culture of water-trading: re-legislating water distribution, first in California and ultimately throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. The new laws will be based on four principles: Don’t transfer water. Do guide population growth to water. Do allow regions to shrink by attrition. Do return the river to its natural course.
California has maintained itself through an elaborate mechanism of water conveyance via aqueducts for decades. Unfortunately, the financial and environmental costs of this strategy are high. Currently the financial costs are being borne by the State and Federal governments, while the environmental costs are simply externalized, thereby delaying and intensifying their impact. This is an infrastructural shell game that California cannot win.
The Continental Compact provides a long-term solution to the contradiction that is California, incentivizing urbanism in water-rich basins near dams, rivers and deltas. The 3 types of hydro-urbanisms leverage existing water resources to create a conurbation at the scale of the river basin. Locally, each responds to the specific characteristics of its riverine, geographic and landscape environment. The hydro-urbanisms are capable of accommodating diverse programs including agriculture, residential, ecology, industry, recreation and tourism.
The Continental Compact replaces hydraulic urbanism with hydrological urbanism. Simply put, the Continental Compact stops moving water to the people and starts moving people to the water. The Continental Compact incentivizes a series of Hydro-regions, each leveraging a piece of new infrastructure in an existing water basin. The resulting megalopolis allows new water-rich urbanism to grow over a period of one hundred years. Conversely, it allows existing water-poor urbanism in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Denver to slowly shrink via attrition. The positive environmental and financial benefits of the revised policy will be significant, saving energy, reducing carbon emissions, slowing subsidence, lowering infrastructure costs, and regenerating California’s deltas.
The history of Westward Expansion in the United States was an epic success, leveraging cheap land and abundant natural resources to grow the country. Things are very different today: land is expensive, resources are scarce, and state and federal governments are increasingly unable to afford the spiraling price tag associated with infrastructural obligations.
Current 2050 growth projections in the U.S. don’t factor what will likely become the most critical determinant of successful urbanism: water supply. The Continental Compact re-directs growth from Mega-regions to Hydro-regions, investing in water-rich urban conurbations built around dams, rivers and deltas. The Compact re-invests the massive resources that currently support the construction and operation of aqueducts into the construction of new infrastructure to support water-rich sustainable urbanism.
Images: Architect (cover), remainder of images by Ian Caine and Derek Hoeferlin
INFRASTRUCTURE AND ILLUSION IN THE AGE OF TRUMP
Publication: Log 39
Author: Ian Caine
Date: Winter 2017
I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me…
– Donald Trump on announcing his candidacy for President of the United States, June 16, 2015.
When Donald Trump stepped up to the podium at Trump Tower to deliver these now infamous words, most observers dismissed his infrastructural vision as the fevered dream of an aging real estate mogul and reality television star. Twenty unimaginable months later, as President Trump leads a stunned nation forward, it’s worth taking a moment to dispel any notion that his administration intends to leverage civil infrastructure for civic good.
At a height of up to 50 feet and a total length of almost 2,000 miles, Trump’s great wall at best embodies grand political theater that is woefully out of touch with the real politics and landscapes of the US border region. For proof, look no further than the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, where you might excuse residents who feel like they’ve seen this drama play out before. That’s because the State of Texas ran a similar production titled the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) between the years 2001 and 2010. If you missed that one, the plot reads like a 1950’s horror flick: a slithering asphalt superhighway cuts a 1,200-foot-wide swath of land between the maquiladoras of Northern Mexico and the malls of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, shuttling freight and utilities to US consumers while swallowing up all the ranches and farms in its path.
At the time, the TTC was the pet project of then Governor Rick Perry, Trump’s 2016 Republican rival whom the new president summarily trounced, then picked up, brushed off, and installed as Energy Secretary. Note that historically, Governor Perry demonstrated far more affection for the TTC than he did for the Department of Energy, an outfit he famously forgot about when asked in a public debate to explain why he wanted to eliminate it.
As Texas-sized boondoggles go, Trump’s great wall and Perry’s superhighway share a lot in common: Trump’s great wall adds 1,000 miles to the already fortified southern US border and will cost up to $25 billion to complete. Perry’s superhighway would have covered 4,000 total miles and cost at least $185 billion. Trump’s great wall faces intense construction challenges and widespread political opposition from residents of the Rio Grande Valley, where most counties broke strongly for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Perry’s superhighway was similarly unbuildable, facing not only technical challenges but a resounding chorus of boos from environmentalists, property rights advocates, government watchdogs, and conspiracy theorists alike.
While the projects are parallel in scale, they are perpendicular in geography and intent: Trump’s great wall runs east-west. Perry’s superhighway ran largely north-south. Trump’s great wall is a shameless play to nationalism. Perry’s superhighway was a massive giveaway to multinational capitalism. Trump’s great wall aspires to divide nations. Perry’s superhighway sought to unite them. In this last regard, Perry’s fever dream was perhaps more optimistic than Trump’s, at least at the margins. Still, these two men are cut from the same cloth, and the grand infrastructural projects that they champion rate equally bankrupt as civic propositions.
Sadly, if either the great wall or the superhighway were ever completed, the most significant accomplishment would be to consolidate the only stable elements of Trump’s otherwise vacillating personality – that is, a calculating xenophobia and ethically rudderless affinity for corporate profits. Neither quality should give urbanists much optimism for the immediate future of the Republic, in either Texas or the United States.
-Ian Caine, January 2017
Images: Anyone Corporation (cover), Gage Skidmore, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Michael Vadon, Texas Transportation Commission via Associated Press
THE 100 YEAR PLAN
International Competition: Rising Tides
Result: First Place Winner (1 of 6 winners/131 entries)
Jury: Michael Sorkin, Walter Hood, Denise Reed, Marcel Stive, Tracy Metz
Team: Ian Caine (Designer), Derek Hoeferlin (Designer), Michael Heller (Research + Illustration)
1. This Proposal Re-Situates the Problem of Rising Tides within a Larger Water Crisis.
Rising tides are not the most significant outcome of climate change. They are merely one symptom of a more daunting water crisis. The threat of rising tides can provide a catalyst which leads us to comprehensively re-balance the water system in California and beyond.
2. We Propose a New Set of Organizing Principles to Manage Water.
Re-Localize. We propose to re-conceive water distribution as a localized concern, allowing real issues such as topography, water supply and demand, and the maintenance of local watersheds to dictate policy.
This thinking would have far-reaching policy impacts, including stopping the massive transport of water to southern California. This might ultimately impact demographic patterns.
As the transport of water decreases, localities such as L.A. and San Diego will be forced to confront their own issues of supply and demand.
Re-plenish. We propose a controlled re-flooding of The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to re-constitute ecological diversity and re-balance fresh and salt water levels. This would involve redirecting existing aqueducts to flood the Delta.
The X2 line, which represents the separation between fresh water and salt water in the Delta, shifts depending on the amount of water that California exports to aqueducts. This balance is integral to the maintenance of a diverse estuary habitat.
Re-power. We propose tidal power as a new energy source to power desalination plants. This means investing in turbine in high current areas and tidal pools in areas with sensitive natural habitats.
We will also export excess power to the electrical grid to save associated energy costs by eliminating water transport.
Re-grow. We propose to re-generate tidal marshes to create storm barriers, restore crucial ecology, and increase local carbon sinks.
3. This is a Policy Proposal, Not an Architectural Solution.
Our proposal is political first and foremost. We purposefully avoid specific physical solutions, instead emphasizing goals and desired outcomes. This proposal involves expanding the architect’s role from designer to long-range policy advocate. This is a 100 year plan, as ecology does not correspond to election and market cycles.
4. We Propose a Policy-based Toolkit.
We advocate for an ambitious policy-based toolkit that trades the “watershed hopping” method of massive water transport, which is energy intensive and environmentally destructive, for a more localized approach.
Images: Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Ian Caine and Derek Hoeferlin, Ian Caine and Derek Hoeferlin, Ian Caine and Derek Hoeferlin, The Discovery Channel
Juried Exhibition: Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) To-Be-Destroyed Exhibition
Location: Toronto, CA
Designer: Ian Caine
Team: Raul Montalvo
Traditional museums gather, reduce, and preserve culture; more recently they commodify, franchise, and export culture. Living Galleries offer an alternative model: one that recognizes culture as a dynamic, place-based phenomenon that resists simplification. Living Galleries reside not in museums but rather in the city itself. Diverse publics generate, curate, consume, and critique gallery content. This process privileges diversity over clarity, democracy over authority. Content and media in Living Galleries remain fluid: art, propaganda, politics, commerce, music, ecology, work, images, apps, songs, maps, and movies all remain in play. Living Galleries guarantee that culture, like life, remains a work in progress.
Images: Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Cover), Ian Caine and Raul Montalvo
Applying Performative Design Tools in the Academic Design Studio: An Integrated Pedagogical Approach
Publication: ARCC National Conference Proceedings: Architecture of Complexity: design, systems, society and environment
Authors: Ian Caine, Rahman Azari
Abstract. This paper describes a third- and fourth-year pilot design studio at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Two instructors—one with expertise in building performance and the other in architectural design—implemented a systems-based approach to teaching undergraduate design studio that allowed students to explore the oft-misunderstood relationship between architectural performance and form. The instructorsintegrated advanced performance modeling into the design curriculum, restructuring the studio around 10 parallel and interactive lab sequences: 5 covering topics specifically related to building performance and 5 covering general design topics. The reconfigured studio required participants to pursue issues of sustainability and design in parallel, allowing students to leverage building performance as a form generator, not a technical overlay. Both iterations of the studio produced a winning entry in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on Technology and the Environment (COTE) Top Ten for Students Competition, which recognizes ten winners annually from a national pool of entries.
Introduction. The negative impacts of climate change present an existential concern for architects, as the built environment is a major contributor to the global environmental crisis. The severity of this crisis means that architects have a disciplinary obligation to accelerate the design and construction of carbon-neutral and carbon-positive buildings. Within the professional realm, architects are meeting this challenge, channeling their efforts through programs like the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), begun in 1994,and the Architecture 2030 Challenge, begun in 2006. Both are widely accepted standards within the industry.
The response from the academy to date has been less clear. While theNational Architectural Accrediting Board(NAAB) maintains significant curricular requirementsrelated to environmentally sustainability and building performance, most schools have yet to integrate this critical material into traditional design studios. This paper describes a pilot studio curriculum at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) that recasts the architectural design studio as a multi-disciplinary, systemic undertaking, one that considers the potentially dynamic interaction between issues of building performance and architectural form in the design studio. The two studio instructors—one with a background in environmental systems and the other in architectural design—initiated a curricular feedback loop, prompting students to engage a continuous dialogue between issues of building analysis and design. In this regard, thepilot course addressed a perceived curricular shortcoming, embedding issues of ecological literacy and performance metrics into a third- and fourth-year undergraduate design studio.
The studios fulfilled multiple learning objectives, seeking to
advance the design of a carbon-neutral built environment in accordance with the Architecture 2030 Challenge.
embed issues of ecological literacy into a traditional studio setting
create a critical feedback loop between issues of building performance and design
embed advanced performance modeling and metrics into a traditional studio setting
provide students with the opportunity to enter an international design competition
explore contemporary and competing theories of suburban design
develop new housing typologies that correspond to the suburban condition in South Texas
To date the instructors have implemented this curriculum twice, first during the fall semester of 2015 and again in the fall of 2016. Both iterations of the studio focused on programs related to the geographic and demographic expansion of San Antonio, Texas, one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. 1.1 million people will move to San Antonio in the next 25 years, a demographic influx that will bring the population of the city from 1.4 million to 2.5 by 2040. This rapid expansion will require the city to add 500,000 new jobs and 500,00 new units of housing, a significant challenge in a city that already added 430,00 people in the last decade .
The first iteration of the studio called for the adaptive reuse of a commercial big box, the most common and mundane of suburban building typologies. Students recast a prototypical Walmart Neighborhood Market in San Antonio as a neighborhood branch library, taking advantage of the typology’s most compelling traits: ubiquity, obsolescence, low-cost and flexibility. The second studio generated new typologies for suburban infill housing, considering the optimal location, design, and construction of these units.
In both cases, the instructors adopted the structure of the AIA Committee on Technology and the Environment (COTE) Top Ten for Students Competition. The AIA COTE Top Ten Competition required students to simultaneously generate formal and environmental responses to issues of innovation, regional design, land use and site ecology, bioclimatic design, light and air, water cycle, energy, materials, adaptability, and feedback loops.
 Robert Rivard, “City Planning for San Antonio Growth Bomb,” Rivard Report. August 29, 2014.
Images: Integrated Technology in Architecture Consortium (cover), Ian Caine and Rahman Azari, Ian Caine and Rahman Azari, Ian Caine and Rahman Azari, Reyes Fernandez and Carmelo Pereira, Elsa Deleon, Adriana Lintz and Veronica Rodriguez, Ian Caine and Rahman Azari (via Peter Buchanan/left and Ken Wilber/right)
SUSTAINING SUBURBIA: EXPLORING THE POLICIES, SYSTEMS, AND FORMS OF GROWTH
Publication: Sustainability (Special Issue)
Guest Editors: Ian Caine, Rebecca Walter
Date: January 2018
Special Issue Information. The impulse to decentralize has always existed as a logical response to the limitations of the spatially contained city. Historically, it fueled the creation of suburbs, which in turn provided an invaluable mechanism to accommodate people and programs that did not fit conveniently within the enclosed city. Suburbs appear across a range of cultures, spanning the ancient cities of Ur and Babylon, classical Rome, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century London, and nineteenth-century New York . During the second half of the twentieth century, the cumulative impact of the automobile catalyzed an unprecedented dispersion of population away from historical urban centers and towards the suburban periphery. This trend, seen most acutely in the United States, provoked a spirited and sustained critique that begins with Lewis Mumford and endures today in the wide-ranging efforts of the Congress of New Urbanism. This robust discourse, which focuses on the well-established shortcomings of post-war suburbs, has nonetheless done little to stem the continued proliferation of these environments throughout the world.
Recently, a series of counter-narratives have emerged from a variety of sources that include authors Joel Kotkin, Robert Bruegmann and architect Judith De Jong. These arguments, which might be broadly grouped under the rubric of “New Suburbanism”, are united by two characteristics: First, a rejection of the premise that suburban processes are inherently problematic; and second, a willingness to engage suburban models as a legitimate and even desirable strategy for growth.
This Special Issue seeks to advance the evolving suburban discourse by addressing two fundamental questions:
To what extent are the policies, systems and forms of suburban development sustainable? The term sustainable in this context is understood to mean the effective and long-term maintenance of environmental, spatial, financial and social systems.
If we assume that suburban processes and forms will continue to proliferate, what critical interventions or evolutions will be required to ensure that they develop on a sustainable trajectory?
The Special Issue invites submissions that address one or both of these questions, either directly or indirectly, while pursuing one or more of the following topics:
Policy. The Special Issue will explore political structures that facilitate the process of suburbanization. Relevant inquiries might concentrate on the local scale, examining issues like zoning regulations or development practices; at the regional scale, exploring topics such as transportation or environmental policy; or at the national scale, investigating federal instruments that drive the production of suburbia such as housing or banking regulations.
Systems. The Special Issue will explore the larger networks within which the production of suburban fabric occurs. Potential topics could include ecological, infrastructural, financial or social systems.
Form. The Special Issue will examine the three-dimensional realization of suburban fabric. Relevant topics here are broad and might include shifting street and block patterns, emerging housing typologies, architectural strategies for infill development, or the changing spatial character of civic life.
The editors specifically welcome submissions that advance new theoretical frameworks, test innovative research methodologies, and develop empirical case-studies.
 Bruegmann, R. Sprawl: A Compact History; University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL, USA, 2005.
The Story of Storage
Team: Ian Caine, Curtis Roth
Program Author and Critic: Rients Dijkstra
It is known that city form results from advances in science and technology and evolutions in economic systems, at least as much as from other forms of cultural input. There is convincing literature that describes the history of warfare as an outcome of the history of technological advance. Just the same, the history of cities, of urban development, of planning, can be told along the lines of technical advancement.
(Cities in civilization, Peter Hall, 1998)
To illustrate the point: there is a famous example, taken from Delirious New York, where Koolhaas describes how the skyscraper concept resulted from the marriage of innovation in steel manufacturing technology and the invention of he elevator. (To be more precise, it was the invention, by Elisha Graves Otis, of the fail safe device that prevents elevators from falling if the cable snaps.) Imagine how without the elevator brake, high urban density could not have come into being. Manhattan would have been impossible in its current form; high-rise down towns would take up 10 to 20 times their current surface area.
I am telling you this to make one thing clear. A change, a small change even, in the elements that constitute the machinery that is the city, can have a big impact on the future form of the city, its esthetic appeal and its sustainability. These changes can be large and structural, impacting the future layout and the development of urban form, or they can be small and ubiquitous, changing the streetscape and the ways people live. My proposal is to study storage.
-Rients Dijkstra, 2011
Images: Ian Caine and Curtis Roth
Big Box Operations: Designing Waste and Change in Walmart Superstores
Publication: ACSA 101 National Conference Proceedings: New Constellations/New Ecologies
Author: Ian Caine
Session Chair: Alan Berger
In 1950 Sam Walton opened a discount variety store in Bentonville, Arkansas called Walton’s 5-10 and set into motion a chain of events that would revolutionize the scale and character of retail development in North America. In the subsequent decades Wal-Mart Stores Inc. would systematically reinvent every component of the big box equation, from the size of the buildings to the financing of civil infrastructure.
This paper focuses on a critical and unintended consequence of the transformation: the multiplication of material waste. The waste associated with big box developments manifests in numerous forms: abandoned buildings, underutilized sites, redundant water and parking infrastructures. The project outlines eight design interventions—the Big Box Operations—to manage waste and change in Walmart Superstores. The Big Box Operations rest on three assertions: first, that much of the excess associated with big box developments results from the difference between the material life-cycle of the built landscape and the financial life-cycle of the big box structure; second, that in order to align these time frames, developers and municipalities must re-conceptualize building systems as dynamic processes that are transitional, not permanent, in nature; and third, that to achieve this shift, these two critical actors must fundamentally reinvent their economic and political relationship.
The site for this design research is the Walmart Home Office and Superstore in Bentonville, Arkansas—center of the Walmart universe. This project re-imagines the legal right-of-way on Sam Walton Boulevard as an expanded physical and legal armature, one capable of streamlining redundant infrastructures and managing the material excess that results from uncoordinated private development. The paper ultimately contends that municipalities, by bringing the design of civil infrastructure back into the public fold, can leverage capital investment patterns to reduce waste and manage the change associated with Walmart urbanism.
Imagining A Secondary Transformation
This project recommends that the best response to Walmart urbanism and the accompanying cycle of waste is a secondary transformation, one with equally radical implications.
This proposal seeks to bring the civil infrastructure of suburbia into line with the logic of Walmart urbanism. It re-imagines the space surrounding Walmart big boxes as a legally public landscape; one that introduces an expanded right-of-way in an attempt to strike a more productive balance between development and infrastructure, between commerce and government.
The goal is not to condemn or censure the retail giant, but rather to leverage its enormous growth potential for public gain; protecting the City of Bentonville and places like it from the negative externalities associated with retail development while further liberating Walmart to do what it does best: money-make.
The Big Box Operations
1. Implement a Grid.
2. Expand the Legal Right-of-Way
3. Rationalize the Lots
4. Coordinate Services
5. Guarantee Passage
6. Insert Program
7. Consolidate Parking
8. Slow the Water
Images: The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (cover), remainder of the images by Ian Caine
Texas 2050: Leveraging Rail Infrastructure as an Instrument for Megaregional Expansion
Publication: Panel Layout for Competition Volumes 4,5,6 (DAMDI Architectural Publishing Co.)
Designer: Ian Caine
Team: Carlos Serrano, Trenton Tunks
The Importance of Megaregional Growth
By the year 2050 the United States population will increase by half, with 70% living in a megaregion (Regional Plan Association, 2006). These numbers emphasize the crucial link between large-scale territorial expansion and the prospects for successful urbanism. Currently 11 megaregions exist in the U.S. As each grows, it must identify and leverage critical infrastructures that are capable of binding geographies and increasing efficiencies. This project speculates about one such strategy for the emerging megaregion known as the Texas Triangle.
Projecting Growth and Density in the Texas Triangle
The Texas Triangle is an expanding megaregion that boasts 5 of the 10 fastest growing cities in the U.S. including Dallas-Fort-Worth, San Antonio, Austin and Houston. The population of the 36 largest urban areas in Texas is projected to double from 18 to 36 million by 2050. This circumstance also doubles the land area given current densities, which average 2600 people per square mile. This residential concentration falls well below the level necessary to support investments in mass transit and high speed rail. As population in the Texas Triangle grows and geographies expand, the megaregion has the opportunity to reorganize itself along a high speed rail corridor. Rail infrastructure clearly has an uncertain political future in the United States. Still, the possibilities that the infrastructure offers to bind territories like the Texas Triangle are difficult to ignore. So what would it take to implement high-speed rail in Texas? And how would it restructure growth in the megaregion?
The Density Issue
This project seeks to answer these two questions, concentrating all projected population gains for the 36 largest urbanized areas in Texas into a continuous megaregional corridor, supported by high speed rail infrastructure. The rail corridor consists of 12 stations, all residing within the Texas Triangle. 4 of the stations are located within the major urbanized areas of Dallas, Fort-Worth, Houston and San Antonio. The plan calls for these cities to absorb the projected growth through increased density rather than geographic expansion. This is accommodated through a mix of infill development and mass transit. The remaining 8 stations, which absorb all projected growth from the outlying areas, are placed in existing smaller urban areas within the Texas Triangle. These sites are transformed into Transit-Oriented-Developments with densities of approximately 9,000 people per square mile, which approximates the residential concentration in Santa Monica, California. The plans doubles the population of the 36 largest urban areas in Texas with no increase in land area.
Images: Planetary Urbanism/ARCH+ (cover); remainder of images by Ian Caine, Carlos Serrano, Trenton Tunks