Happy birthday, Interstate. Can we talk?

Categories: Infrastructure

On June 29, the U.S. interstate system turned 60.  Happy birthday, old friend.  Thank you for the billions of miles of unexpected surprises and family fun. The system of roads and bridges crisscross the American landscape promoting interstate and intercity commerce, allowing greater ability to explore our country and to connect people to new opportunity.  A modern marvel then and still today.  A feat of imagination, daring and hard work; laying the foundations of new communities in their wake.

Sadly in our nation’s history, roads and highways sometimes became mechanisms of division among people and the places in which they live(d).  Neighborhoods were and remain cut off from one another.  Communities were parceled and identity lost.  The pride of community?  Gone. In prosperity’s place, crime, poverty, economic distress.  Isolation.  Not everywhere, and perhaps not that dramatic, but in some places, the pain is real and remains.

As U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently noted, in some cases, this may be the result of intentional design. The former Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor is raising the historic red flag of highway policy that through history decimated some communities.

Courtesy of U.S. Department of Transportation.

Autodesk’s new east coast flagship office calls South Boston home; we love South Boston and the people and industry around us.  Boston, today, is known as a pretty progressive city.  But, it’s present isn’t immune to the devastation of bad planning and highway policies of the past. In Boston, think about how the Big Dig reconnected our fair city and made it a better place to live, work, and enjoy. Still, today, highways like Interstate 93 create proverbial dead zones in parts of Boston.  This 2014 article in BostInno spells out the problem.

Now that we’ve looked into the past; let’s talk about the future.

Autodesk is a company about the business of enabling people and communities around the planet to look forward, build forward: to imagine, design, and create a better world.  That’s our mission; it’s what we do each day.

For three days beginning July 29, Autodesk will sponsor and compete in the Design Museum Boston’s effort to help reimagine, redesign, and recreate a better Boston. Partnering with other Boston represented firms, we will join the Design Museum Boston’s Urban Innovation Festival, a three-day design hack-a-thon at Channel Park under I-93. Eight Autodesk employees will volunteer their time and skills as one of the teams competing to design solutions to some of Boston’s urban problems. The festival serves as the museum’s keystone event in a multi-year Urban Innovation Program, demonstrating that design can improve and transform the livability of a place.

We figured that we could take our people and our technology to help address local problems with our neighbors – breathing life back into a part of Boston that for too long was and still is a place to avoid – a void.

With those statements in mind, our mission, our business, our sense of community compels us to participate in the Design Museum Boston’s friendly competition, and we are looking forward to joining a diverse group of engineers, architects, developers, and visionaries, including Payette, Fidelity Labs, Essential Design, Bose, Shepley Bulfinch, Wentworth Institute of Technology, CBT, and MassArt.

Boston Strong(er).