Urbanization of Industry

Moving towards Integrated Industry

The world of commerce and industry is changing rapidly. Not long ago it was the efficiency of production and delivery of goods in a global market that drove value.  Now, its the demand of consumers.  That shift is changing the whole nature and value proposition of industrial development.   

Consumer Driven Value – The I3 Model

Consumers are demanding goods that are more Individualized, Innovative and delivered immediately. That creates a value that is driven locally, not globally. 

The I3 Model

Industry has become INNOVATIVE, INDIVIDUALIZED and IMMEDIATE. The consumer-centric response is transforming development to accelerate manufacturing and distribution while humanizing the process and environment. Innovative industry is the response to entrepreneurial spirit of exploring and fulfilling human needs. Individualized industry is defined by memorable, personal experiences in response to individual desire while realizing the power of engagement through customer interaction at each point in the supply chain. Immediate industry requires the processes to be lean mechanisms, incorporating R&D, design, prototyping, and manufacturing into a seamless, compact process. The I3 Model drives industry back into the hearts of cities where innovation, production, and distribution blends into the urban fabric driving the value of a vertically integrated ecosystem that supports the future of industry.

What, then, is the industrial development that best capitalizes on this new consumer driven value?  We believe that it will be Integrated Industrial Development.  That development will be more urbanized, will respond to the demands of labor and address new modes of transportation infrastructure.

Rise of Urbanization

When value shifts back to consumers, effective industrial development must shift with them.  Increasingly, people are returning to cities and more urban areas.  They are returning because of a change in values and the desire for community.  Successful industrial development will support those values and the type of localized goods the new consumer demands. Industrial development will become urbanized.

Urbanized industrial development will need to address new conditions as distribution becomes part of a community. At one scale, it will mean developing in places that the community encounters daily, often occupying space where critical industry once was. Such is the case in the community of East Windsor, New Jersey where the Trammell Crow Company is re-developing the McGraw-Hill site that had once been a prideful center of town. This new center occupies an important urban space where it is both welcomed and celebrated.

Urban solutions are also mixed-use solutions. Fully understanding how industrial development, which traditionally stood on its own, can now be integrated into the full urban ecosystem will represent the next stage of development.

Demands of Labor

The new paradigm of consumer driven value requires more and sophisticated labor.  Distribution centers are emerging as a new workplace.  Unfortunately this workplace is being met with increased reporting about conditions that are unhealthy or even hostile.  Couple this with industrial development being located in more urban areas where communities are formed around a shared set of values and the stage is set for demand of radical change.

In 1911, the course of industry was changed in the United States by fire. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, a clothing factory that occupied the eighth and ninth floor of a building near Washington Square Park in New York City, caught on fire and killed 145 workers, primarily women. The unsafe working conditions resulted from a mindset in which the product was more valued than the lives of those who made it. The immediate result of this tragedy were changes to building codes and labor laws that became the practices we take for granted today.  A fire is beginning to burn again.

We believe avoiding that fire will involve considering the Well Building Standard in the design of the industrial workplace around the concepts of the Well Building Standard.  While this may seem far-fetched, not long ago LEED and industrial development seemed incongruous and now there is a specific section in the system devoted to distribution centers.  The concept is also not without precedent and we have begun work around the idea.  One of the central charges to KSS in the Grainger Distribution and Fulfillment Center in Bordentown NJ, was to design for its employees. While the WELL Building System did not yet exist, but the team focused on many of the sustainable points that reflect well-being as it achieved a Gold LEED Certification.  The result was a building that included distribution spaces that were conditioned, daylit and incorporated views to the exterior.  The design focused less on the “front offices” and more on the rich and varied amenity spaces that created places for arrival, relaxation and comfort for the full workforce.  

Changes in Transportation

One of the most pronounced changes in infrastructure involves new modes of transportation, especially as it involves the distribution of goods. While mass distribution was designed around the needs and impact of 53’ trailers and the cargo container, local and urban distribution is being designed around more nimble and frequent forms of transportation. Many consumers take advantage of diverse distribution vehicles on a daily basis. Our clothes, home goods, and toiletries can be ordered and delivered next day via sprinter vans and box trucks moving efficiently across the city. If we want a hot meal, a courier on bike can pick it up, weave through traffic, and have it at our doorstep in less than an hour. As we experience the positive effects of delivery strategies, we will design our distribution centers to anticipate the evolving vehicle types of the urban environment. 

The new multi-story distribution center at 2505 Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx, NY capitalizes in its urban environment by creating a higher density of development that fully integrates into the cities transportation infrastructure.  It is designed to accommodate 53’ trailers from adjacent highways, but also takes advantage of the nearby subway system as a source for its labor, access to local and more pedestrian friendly streets for small vehicle delivery, and incorporates extensive garage space for sprinter vans and other means of rapid local delivery.

The time is now for Integrated Industry.