Center to study metro growth

By By Jamie Bowen, Staff Writer

By Jamie Bowen, Staff Writer

The world’s population is projected to hit 9 billion by the year 2050, and two-thirds of all people will live in metropolitan areas, said Arthur Nelson, a U professor of city and metropolitan planning.

The College of Architecture and Planning is in the process of developing the Metropolitan Research Center to conduct research on national and international metropolitan growth patterns.

“Our metro areas are feeling the pressures,” Nelson said. “They are projected to double (in size) in 40 years, and the entire non-residential areas will be redeveloped.”

The center, which the college expects to have up and running by spring 2009, will study demographics, technology, design, environment and governance along the Wasatch Front and throughout certain major metropolitan areas in the world, Nelson said.

“It will seek to expand knowledge in city and metropolitan affairs and educate the general public on important issues facing communities,” Nelson said.

Private funding is being donated to provide resources for the center, he said.

Because enrollment numbers for the department of city and metropolitan planning have increased by about 300 percent, the college will hire new faculty to accommodate the influx of students.

The center also comes at a good time for metropolitan areas. When the committee proposed the center, Nelson said it estimated that 2 million homes will need to be built each year in the United States. These changes are affecting many metropolitan areas, especially along the Wasatch Front, Nelson said.

“The Salt Lake City metropolitan area will face severe growth-related challenges,” said Lee Logston, a city and metropolitan planning graduate student and leader of City and Metropolitan Planning Utah Students.

Graduate architecture students will also contribute to the center and gain experience researching and understanding important metropolitan trends.

According to the College of Architecture and Planning, more than two-thirds of non-residential space on the Wasatch Front will need to be rebuilt by the year 2040, which will cost an estimated $500 billion.

Nelson, who transferred to the U from the University of Virginia, will head the new center. The college is in the process of hiring other professionals in related fields to help run the center as well.

Brad Linn, a student leader for the student group and senior architecture major, said he hopes the planning program will become one of the top 25 programs in the nation.

“The research center will be an integral part of building a nationally recognized program,” Linn said.

The center also hopes to establish a doctoral program in real estate development and growth in major urban areas, also known as “megapolitan” centers.

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