Moving mile-plus-high cranes. Construction activity in once-empty retail spaces. Weekday and weekend walkers, cyclists, bus riders meandering and moving on city streets. Announcements of corporate moves and high-profile doings, downtown.
Sure, all the signs of a reviving economy are apparent. But there’s more than just good news to celebrate.
What futurists now forecast is a return to the city, big time, with mega-cities, mega-regions, and mega-corridors worldwide expected in the 2020s [mega meaning a start point of 15 million people]. Heck, the megas are here today … especially if you’ve been to China with its 160+ cities of one-plus million in residents.
We know that jobs, income, retail sales, residential property values are first indicators; following up those signs are infrastructure improvements, transportation upgrades, educational reform, and smart-everything helping us calendarize our lives (among others). Much is geared to smaller spaces, micro-services within macro-formats. A Target could feature multiple mini-stores, some branded by manufacturer, some content oriented, still others guiding consumers through smart phone geo-locators. Micro-loans invented by the Grameen Bank become S.O.P. Commuters could, with appropriate transit alternatives, live in Hartford and work in D.C., work in London and live in Paris. And already do.
It’s living life large – in all its senses. At the same time, urbanization is a trend that concerns, especially in our lines of business. Reaching the right people, inside and outside business, requires even more delicate messaging and maneuvers. Mobile won’t always be the answer. Getting the right spaces to think and to work demands some creative applications – and employers who’ll be copacetic with employees who won’t inhabit desks every day. Design that doesn’t blend into its environment, but doesn’t shriek “look at me.”
On the other hand, we’re confirmed urbanites. Crowds don’t faze us. An ever-growing wealth of options – in culture, lifestyle, entertainment, work – is always welcome. But when you communicate, do make it about me, not the mega-mes.