Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next

This eye-opening look at the new phenomenon called the aerotropolis gives us a glimpse at the way we will live in the near future—and the way we will do business, too.

Not so long ago, airports were built near cities, and roads connected the one to the other. This pattern—the city in the center, the airport on the periphery— shaped life in the twentieth century, from the central city to exurban sprawl. Today, the ubiquity of jet travel, round-the-clock workdays, overnight shipping, and global business networks has turned the pattern inside out. Soon the airport will be at the center and the city will be built around it, the better to keep workers, suppliers, executives, and goods in touch with the global market.

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-heavy suburbs, the Aerotropolis consists of an airport city and outlying corridors and clusters of aviation-linked businesses and associated residential development. 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. This is the aerotropolis: a combination of giant airport, planned city, shipping facility, and business hub.

Already the aerotropolis approach to urban living is reshaping life in Beijing and Amsterdam, in China and Rwanda, in Dallas and the Washington, D.C., suburbs. The aerotropolis is the frontier of the next phase of globalization, whether we like it or not. John D. Kasarda defined the term “aerotropolis,” and he is now sought after worldwide as an adviser. Working with Kasarda’s ideas and research, the gifted journalist Greg Lindsay gives us a vivid, at times disquieting look at these new cities in the making, the challenges they present to our environment and our usual ways of life, and the opportunities they offer to those who can adapt to them creatively. Aerotropolis is news from the near future—news we urgently need if we are to understand the changing world and our place in it.

About the Authors

 

John D. Kasarda, a professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, has advised countries, cities, and companies about the aerotropolis and its implications. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Greg Lindsay has written for Time, BusinessWeek, and Fast Company. For one story he traveled around the world by airplane for three weeks, never leaving the airport while on the ground. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

One of the ten that will change the world

Time Magazine, 2011

Aerotropolis The Way We'll Live Next

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