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Biden Should Build From the Ground Up | Architect Magazine

Aaron Betsky on the ways the President-elect’s infrastructure plan falls short.

Flickr/Creative Commons License/Gabriel Caparó
Flickr/Creative Commons License/Gabriel Caparó


Go big or go home? Or small is beautiful? Those are the questions that confront the Biden administration when it takes over this country in a few weeks. As we look forward to a post-pandemic world (and a better year in general), what kind of political initiatives and developments can we expect that will affect the design world?

So far, I believe the signs are not good, even taking into account the runoff victories in Georgia that will give Democrats control of the Senate. The Biden administration-in-waiting appears to be made up of too many familiar faces who have espoused discredited or tired ideas, although we do not yet know who will lead any infrastructure or design initiatives. (Debra Haaland, Biden’s pick as interior secretary, is a bit of blank slate in this arena, and it remains to be seen if Pete Buttigeig, the proposed transportation secretary, can produce any visionary proposals to match his rhetorical gifts.)

More important is Biden’s position statement on infrastructure, which states that his priority is “creating the jobs we need to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure now and deliver an equitable clean energy future.” Throughout this campaign document, the focus is on union jobs, “new and better products,” and roads.

Of course we need well-paying jobs, but making that need the driving force behind rebuilding our infrastructure, rather than seeing such construction as necessary in and of itself, has been a recurring problem not just here but around the world. It leads to make-work programs and wasted government funds. We do not always need new structures or buildings. We need to find ways to improve those we have. And we do not just need new roads or fewer potholes, however nice that would be, but public, fine-grained infrastructure that connects big cities and smaller communities alike.

Instead, we should turn the priorities around: We should build not to create jobs, but because we should invest in technologies that will increase jobs and equity. Though that might not sound like a significant change, it is. Biden’s proposals would lead to the same waste and bad design that we saw under the Obama administration.

We do not need a Department of Housing and Urban Development; we need a Department of Re-Housing and Urban Redevelopment. We need a Department of Spatial Planning.

Read on >>>> Source: Biden Should Build From the Ground Up | Architect Magazine

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