Imagining the city of tomorrow often involves flying cars and floating villages in the sky. But realistically, the future we all envision will not reach that sci-fi moment until the force of gravity is artificially controlled. Though this may bum out many idealistic futurists, the future we have before us is already taking shape with marvelous possibilities within our reach today.

Our Idea Issue cover brings together the old with the new, inspired by nature and enhanced by technology. Imagine an urban landscape where every surface is lined with LED lighting, photovoltaic cells are in every window pane, and gardens and public spaces reach the heavens, keeping us close to nature even while we live in a technologically dominated existence. It is not that far from reality. In fact, all it would take is a big investment in retro-fitting what already exists in our streets and homes.

The future does not need flying cars; we can all work toward a goal of an effective mass transit that promotes connectivity in every neighborhood, making our city a walkable paradise of diversity that highlights all great things about San Francisco as you know it.

The arguments over development versus preservation can easily be eased by enhancing a lot of San Francisco’s historic buildings with new technologies like gray water solutions, “solar paneled” glass and self-heating walls. Take, for example, our rendering of the iconic Transamerica building. This gem absolutely does not need any improvements; in fact, some people might consider this vision an abomination and disrespectful of the building’s beauty, but as an idea—to inspire future architecture aligned with nature—why not build a giant spiral of sprawling gardens allowing high-rise buildings to be connected to nature while living or working in a tower of concrete and steel?

Infrastructure improvements can go beyond retrofitting for earthquakes and catastrophes and eventually go skyward by adding on to existing marble and brick buildings with sustainably sourced materials with futuristic design values.

We envision a city without dependence on personal automobiles, where roads become transformed into micro-forests and public parks with minimal roads for travel. Underground structures abound, massive highways make transporting essential goods possible, and limitless sustainable energy resources and zero-waste lifestyles are at the core of every home. This is all very possible, and some of these ideas are already in place in San Francisco.
What started as a need for more public spaces (giving birth to parklets) will now make way for more green public spaces previously assigned for automobile use. Our goal to reach zero waste is well at hand, and the more our community embraces each of these projects that prime us for the future, the closer we will be to a utopian San Francisco we all cannot wait to live in.

Our future can remain a model of acceptance and diversity, welcoming every economic class to enjoy the benefits of a forward-thinking city that is and will remain the envy of the world. All we need are more thinkers to take action with a lot of heart, ethics, and involvement in the future for every one of us.

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This article was published in:
Idea Issue - Released March 2013
Issue 2 / Version 3 | Buy print copy here
Issue 12
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