Location: Houston, Texas
This master plan for a new city on a 15,000 acre site near a major metropolitan area is focused on the idea of the “K through J” continuum (kindergarten through jobs) and the importance of knowledge in today’s socio-economic context. In the city’s mixed-use core, as well as on a chain of town islands, educational facilities are integrated with commercial offices and laboratories, cultural facilities, retail stores, restaurants, and a spectrum of housing choices to build a rich knowledge-centered lifestyle.
The central core of the Knowledge City is the location of multiple educational institutions and the central business area. The mixed uses in this area are integrated both horizontally and vertically. Walking paths offer a variety of short-cuts and connections throughout the town to allow easy access to many varied opportunities for education, employment and recreation. Along the walkways, there are seating areas, restaurants, shops and open spaces that make an appealing environment for spur-of the-moment conversations, networking, and just hanging out.
A major portion of the site is located in the flood plain of a major river which often floods. A system of “island” towns has been designed to avoid building levees that are detrimental to the ecology and to downstream settlements. The areas between the islands are set aside for flood management, organic farming, teaching conservation, and environmental habitat restoration under the direction of university education and research programs. An extensive greenway system in the Knowledge City core connects to the open green spaces surrounding the islands and serves as connective tissue for walkways and bikeways and recreational activities.
In the Knowledge City places of employment and learning are never far apart. The opportunities to put into practice what is learned and to learn from what is practiced is a unique opportunity created by this plan. Research, incubator start-ups and small production facilities are located adjacent to university classrooms and labs and to housing. This allows for the extension of the traditional disconnected educational system into an integrated and synergistic life-long learning experience.