Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
Urban planning porn for advocates of highway demolition.
Rio de Janeiro is in the midst of massively remaking itself in preparation for the 2014 World Cup, the 2016 Olympics and life beyond both as the international capital of one of the world's fastest growing economies. The process has been ambitious and controversial, with Olympic venues and all manner of new infrastructure envisioned atop a crowded landscape of existing favelas and old patchwork development.
The city is creating, of course, big new sports venues and an Olympic village, plans that will transform adjacent neighborhoods (and, hopefully, the transportation between them). But the urban metamorphosis that has most caught our eye is the reconstruction of the city's waterfront, a project that will run into the early 2020s. The city is planning to demolish the elevated Perimetral Highway that runs along the coast, while rebuilding the streetscape in its place and constructing a six-lane, 1.6-kilometer underground tunnel. The plans call for 650 thousand square meters of new sidewalks, 15,000 trees, new light rail infrastructure, three sewage treatment plants and a "Museum of Tomorrow."
The whole project is a 15-year undertaking, starting with the city's port. But you can watch the entire thing unroll as if in a planner's dream in three minutes in this break-neck animation produced by the city. The highway vanishes as trees and happy transit commuters pop up. The future literally sprints across the city toward the airport, erasing everything in its wake.