|About the Aerotropolis|
Major airports have become key nodes in global production and enterprise systems offering them speed, agility, and connectivity. They are also powerful engines of local economic development, attracting aviation-linked businesses of all types to their environs. These include, among others, time-sensitive manufacturing and distribution facilities; hotel, entertainment, retail, convention, trade and exhibition complexes; and office buildings that house air-travel intensive executives and professionals.
The rapid expansion of airport-linked commercial facilities is making today's air gateways anchors of 21st century metropolitan development where distant travelers and locals alike can conduct business, exchange knowledge, shop, eat, sleep, and be entertained without going more than 15 minutes from the airport. This functional and spatial evolution is transforming many city airports into airport cities.
As more and more aviation-oriented businesses are being drawn to airport cities and along transportation corridors radiating from them, a new urban form is emerging—the Aerotropolis—stretching up to 20 miles (30 kilometers) outward from some airports. Analogous in shape to the traditional metropolis made up of a central city and its rings of commuter-linked suburbs, the Aerotropolis consists of an airport city and outlying corridors and clusters of aviation-linked businesses and associated residential development that feed off of each other and their accessibility to the airport. A number of these clusters such as Amsterdam Zuidas, Las Colinas, Texas, and South Korea's Songdo International Business District have become globally significant airport edge-cities representing planned postmodern urban mega-development in the age of the Aerotropolis.
A spatially compressed model of the Aerotropolis showing its current and likely future evolution is illustrated below. No Aerotropolis will look exactly like this but most will eventually take on similar features, led by newer "greenfield" airports on metropolitan peripheries less constrained by decades of prior surrounding development. The Aerotropolis is thus much more of a dynamic, forward-looking model than a static, cross-sectional model that often reflects historic airport area development before air commerce played such an important economic role. It is likewise more than corridors and clusters of aviation-dependent commercial, industrial, and logistics facilities. The aerotropolis also encompasses living urban places that must be designed as appealing environmental and social realms if the model is to achieve its full potential.
Although much aerotropolis development to date has been organic — often lacking urban amenities and spawning congestion and environmental problems — in the future it can be markedly improved through strategic infrastructure, business site, and urban planning and design.
The bottom line is that aerotropolis development and "smart urban growth" that is both economically efficient and environmentally-, resident-, visitor-, and worker-friendly, can and should go hand-in-hand.
The above outcome will not occur under most current airport area planning approaches which tend to be localized, politically and functionally fragmented, and often conflicted. A new integrated approach is required bringing together airport planning, urban and regional planning, and business-site planning domains in a synergistic manner so that future Aerotropolis development will be more economically efficient, aesthetically pleasing, socially vibrant, and environmentally sustainable. The real question is not whether Aerotropolises will evolve around major airports (they surely will). It's whether they will form and grow in an intelligent manner, minimizing problems and bringing about the greatest returns to the airport, its users, businesses, surrounding communities, and the larger region it serves.
"The true challenge is planning to get the Aerotropolis right. If there is not appropriate planning, airport-area development will be spontaneous, haphazard, economically inefficient, and ultimately unsustainable. The aerotropolis model brings together airport planning, urban and regional planning, and business-site planning to create a new urban form that is highly competitive, attractive, and sustainable."
John D. Kasarda
"The 20th century was about cities building airports. The 21st century will be about airports building cities."
John D. Kasarda
"Large hub airports are reorienting the metropolitan center as they and their surrounding areas attract substantial concentrations of business functions previously confined to central city downtowns."
John D. Kasarda
"Cities used to be almost exclusively destinations and airports solely places of departure. Now airports are becoming destinations and cities places of departure as their residents and workers increasingly travel to emerging airport cities and aerotropolises around the world."
John D. Kasarda
"One of the ten ideas that will change the world."
Aerotropolis Concept Video
Based on Dr. John Kasarda's Aerotropolis model, this 3D video depicts the multimodal infrastructure, commercial, and residential aspects of the Aerotropolis. Kasarda and Evolve Media developed this video to demonstrate how airport planning, multimodal transportation planning, urban planning, and business site planning can be synergized to create a new urban form that is economically efficient, globally competitive, attractive, and sustainable.
Watch on YouTube