April 17th, 2013

Georgia Tech Group is Planning the Future of International Urban Waterfronts

A group of City & Regional Planning and Architecture graduate students  traveled to Taiwan during their Spring Break to conduct research and share ideas with government and higher education as part of a semester-long studio project. Led by Professors Perry Yang, Richard Dagenhart, and Nancey Green Leigh, the group is working with the government of  Kaohsiung, an industrial port city, to create a waterfront redevelopment plan.

The group met with the Deputy Mayor and representatives from the Taiwan Port Authority and local Bureaus of Urban Development and Economic Development. Kaohsiung’s port land was previously owned by the Port Authority and used exclusively for heavy industry and shipping.  This activity has increasingly moved away from the historic waterfront piers as Kaohsiung became one of the largest container ports in the world.  The city government is now engaged in plans and projects to redevelop hundreds of acres of contaminated land along the waterfront.

Local government officials presented their four high profile  and innovative design waterfront projects of a pop music center, passenger cruise ship terminal, convention center, and library. The Georgia Tech students and professors presented ideas on the use of urban Free Economic Zones, areas of deregulated economic activity created to promote foreign direct investment and boost job growth. Additionally, they discussed fostering urban redevelopment with international educational institutions as anchors, utilizing urban design to create waterfront accessibility for a wide range of users, and revising zoning regulations to allow a mix of residential and economic activity for a vibrant, sustainable waterfront. They cited examples from their earlier research trip to New York City exploring its waterfront redevelopment, and especially notable efforts to support manufacturing and creative industries in the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Having the chance to see firsthand the area of redevelopment need, gather support information, and share ideas directly with the city of Kaohsiung, greatly enriches the students and professors’ understanding of the challenges and opportunities for redeveloping Kaohsiung’s historic portlands.  The group was also featured in Kaohsiung’s local newspaper just days after their visit to the city.

The studio’s waterfront redevelopment plan will be completed by the end of the spring semester. For more information, visit the studio group’s website: https://waterfrontcities.wordpress.com.

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Photo Credit: Sinan Sinharoy

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