How Will We Live in 2010?

Forget the flying car, the personal jet pack, the bubble condo on the Moon. It’s not going to happen—not for the vast majority of us, anyway. Here’s what is going to happen—what’s already happening—in controlled design experiments around the world. Trains are becoming a lot faster. Information technology is telling us more about where we are and what’s happening around us. Skyscrapers are getting crazier looking. Green technology is making places cleaner and healthier. Builders of monolithic structures are figuring out that their designs need to be flexible, that today’s forward-looking design is tomorrow’s aesthetic hangover. The city of the near future is closer than you think.

With this issue we are not so much predicting the world to come as previewing it. Many of the projects on these pages are already nearing completion. Even the speculative designs we’ve commissioned are based on current ideas and existing technologies. Though we’re enthusiastic about these possibilities, we realize that the buoyantly optimistic days of World’s Fair futurism are over. The public is harder to impress—and some of the most advanced technologies are more cause for alarm than for celebration. Accordingly we’ve sprinkled this issue with facts on the future that are stranger—and sometimes scarier—than fiction. And we admit that there are some fixtures of city life—the corner store, the outdoor market, the neighborhood bar—that had best not change at all. In many ways the future will look a lot like the present. And instead of taking place on the Moon or up in the air, it will happen on the ground, in the street, around the corner. If you look closely, you might notice that it’s already here.

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