In the twenty-first century, the crucial element of a more-perfect society is innovation. Or so think tanks, urban planners, and entrepreneurs would have you believe. A recent report by the Brookings Institution confirms the dawn of “innovation districts,” a new urban strategy designed to maximize collaboration and creativity with the promise of launching us into the future.
Innovation districts are cropping up across the globe—from Seattle’s South Lake Union to Boston’s South Boston waterfront and Barcelona’s 22@ neighborhood (a designation that replaced the traditional industrial designation, 22a, presumably to emphasize the new district’s techy qualities). Dozens of cities across the United States, Europe, South America, and East Asia are cultivating local utopias of entrepreneurship. Some, in downtowns and midtowns of cities like Atlanta and Detroit, are anchored by universities and medical centers; others reimagine neglected industrial areas or transform traditional science parks, like the Research Triangle Park in Raleigh-Durham.
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