Baton Rouge Future Visioning

Baton Rouge Future Visioning

Dramatic evolutions in automated mobility, climate, and urban land use will simultaneously reach critical mass in the 2020s. Louisiana’s capital, Baton Rouge, presents a case study for the promise and perils of this inevitable future. Baton Rouge sits 100 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana’s rapidly eroding coast. In 2016 unprecedented flooding devastated the metropolitan region. Future maps show much of south Louisiana underwater by 2050. Over the next decade Baton Rouge could see investment and development shift from the coast to its region.

Client

Build Baton Rouge

Location

Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA

Size

City wide
(90 square miles)

The city is at the front line of climate emergency. Like many similar mid-size American cities, it also suffers from a lack of competitive opportunities, compared to larger metropolises. At the same time, the very real combined impacts of global climate change and human intervention on the Mississippi Delta are real and pressing, and the city has suffered from extensive flooding in recent years, mainly due to failing infrastructure. Being further upriver and on an elevated plain, it is protected from climate induced flooding, however it is anticipated that up to 2 million people from the wider region will be permanently affected by the coastal flooding typified by the impact on New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. In a city predominantly designed for the car, the challenges to sustainable approaches are significant, and yet the urgency is real. Baton Rouge is also a city of two halves, north and south and is reflected in its socio -economic makeup.

The Future Visioning Initiative is being been led by Build Baton Rouge, the city’s development authority, and supported by the Louisana’s Center for Planning Excellence, Lousiana State University and Emergent Method. The work is being developed and shared at the highest political level to inform future policy, towards a phased shift towards a more sustainable future.

As part of a citywide collaborative exercise, the work explores how to make maximise the combined opportunities of sustainable development practice, permeable water strategies and new mobility to create a new model for the future and which is resilient, responsible and robust.

In tandem with flood resilient design, and responsive new development, the phased removal of parking lots as a result of improved public transport and increased automation to the street, can effectively “bring the garden back into the city”. The impact on the street and its users can be transformative, not just in terms of the immediate street environment, in the plots adjacent and beyond. with the streets as drivers for a new sustainable urban vision evolved from the character of Baton Rouge.

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5 Steps Forwards

5 Steps Forwards explores a series of scenarios over a projected 30 year period, with improved public transport integrated with the phased implementation of autonomous vehicles. This is explored in tandem with recognised best practice strategies towards sustainable flood resilient development. This captures the potential positives from autonomous vehicles, such as ride sharing, narrower lanes, loss of parking lots, and more street space for people and bikes, and drive forward opportunity through sustainable and equitable changes, with streets as active green corridors delivering benefits to all.

5 Steps Backwards

5 steps Backwards is the opposite identifying the impacts and opportunities lost if it is left solely to the market to decide, over the same timescale. It shows how fully autonomous streets, if not carefully managed, can lead to decentralization, falling land values, empty centres, and an inequitable and unsustainable model.

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