The Initiative

Once in a generation, Regional Plan Association produces a long-range vision for the tri-state region. Due out later this year, RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan will propose investments and policies that will shape how we develop as a region over the next half century. This blueprint  for the region’s future will reflect our vision of shared prosperity, health and livability, resiliency and good governance.  

With the right strategies and political will, the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area could be a place that fulfills its promise of equal opportunity; a coastal region that shows the rest of the world how to adapt and prosper in an age of rising seas and temperatures; and a global hub that harnesses its immense resources and innovative talent to make this fast-paced, expensive metropolis an easier, healthier and more affordable place to live and work.

In an effort to drive policy with good design, the Fourth Regional plan identified four corridors in the metropolitan region — the Highlands, the Coasts, the City and the Suburbs — each representing a common set of needs and opportunities. Four design teams were selected to work on these four corridors, each with a different approach to design and to representation. This diversity of work created a heterogeneous set of design materials -- an essential asset in the context of a regional plan with an extensive scope of issues, enormous geography, and most challenging of all, a time horizon to mid-century and beyond.

The corridor framework allowed for the development of designs that transcend the limits of a given place, while anchoring innovative proposals for future change. Collectively, the four corridors identified and explored the diverse, and often contradictory, demands and concerns that coexist in the greater region.

Community involvement is a key factor in building stronger more resilient ecosystems; by bringing The Fourth Regional Plan directly to communities through this exhibit, residents have the opportunity to weigh-in on their future by assessing the creative designs and solutions to some of the most pressing challenges New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are facing.

Sam Carter, Managing Director at The Rockefeller Foundation

The objectives of this Initiative were to:

  • Develop creative designs that strategically respond to the issues present in each corridor. These would be based on case study sites but applicable to the corridor at large. Designs should be applicable at multiple scales that are at once based on specific places but also capable of being deployed in a strategic way over the larger RPA geography and over the long term horizon of the fourth regional plan. Designs should

  • Communicate to multiple audiences how the proposed designs address the fourth regional plan recommendations.

  • Explore how the vision for the fourth regional plan is realized and manifested in different places throughout the region over time and across scenarios.

The Fourth Regional Plan

A generation from now, the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area could be a place that fulfills its promise of equal opportunity; a coastal region that shows the rest of the world how to adapt and prosper in an age of rising seas and temperatures; and a global hub that harnesses its immense resources and innovative talent to make this fast-paced, expensive metropolis an easier, healthier and more affordable place to live and work.

This fall, Regional Plan Association will release a comprehensive plan for the tri-state area, the fourth plan in the region’s history. It will identify strategies to broaden prosperity by investing in communities; build modern infrastructure that boosts economic competitiveness; and adopt innovative solutions to protect coastal areas.

Fix the institutions that are failing us

Our infrastructure is congested and failing, and yet it takes too long and costs too much to fix it. As inequality grows, city and town boundaries reinforce the isolation of poor, racially segregated communities. And truly addressing the growing threat of climate change requires investments far more ambitious and strategic than we have made so far. Solving these existential challenges will require public officials and citizens to reassess fundamental assumptions about our public institutions.

Create a dynamic, customer-oriented transportation system

Transportation is the backbone of the region’s economy. It is also vital to the quality of life of everyone who lives and works here. Many improvements can be made quickly and inexpensively at the neighborhood scale. But the region also needs bigger projects that have far-reaching effects on land use, settlement patterns, public health, the economy and the environment.

Meet the challenge of climate change

Climate change is here to stay. Our coastline is shifting inland, our cities are hotter, and our streets, subways, power lines and homes are subject to more frequent flooding. The way we plan our communities and infrastructure must reflect this new reality. Fortunately, this also gives us a new opportunity: to transform our region, so well known for its vibrant urban places, into one that is also known for its green neighborhoods, natural landscapes and clean waterways.

Make the region affordable for everyone

The tri-state region has become more attractive over the last two decades, but it has also become more expensive. While household incomes have stagnated, housing costs have risen sharply, often leaving too little to cover critical expenses like health care, college, child care and food. What’s more, there are still many communities that lack in public services, struggle with crime, and where jobs are scarce and hard to get to. All of our communities – urban and rural, new and old – can and should be healthy, diverse and affordable places with opportunities for everyone.

To address these pillars, RPA is developing recommendations where the principal design challenges addressed in this initiative include, but are not limited to:

  • Creating new models for mixed-use including new forms of live-work.

  • Achieving new levels of integration of the built and natural landscapes that go beyond site-by-site “green infrastructure” details to enable the restoration of environmental system services and habitat protection.

  • Acknowledging places in transition and incorporating long-term adaptation into design proposals.

  • Model sustainable community designs that account for climate change impacts including long-term adaptation to sea level rise, resilience to storm surge and reduction of urban heat island.

  • Demonstrating new ways of designing multi-purpose infrastructure.

  • Retrofitting and reinventing a range of suburban typologies that are currently underutilized, including office and industrial parks, shopping centers, commercial strips and institutional campuses.

  • Demonstrating new ways of accommodating population growth in established centers and neighborhoods that promote health, equity and opportunity.