Updated: Feb 3
Assessing the Vision
Like any institution, animal welfare organizations – their shelters and clinics – are affected by outside influences. Socioeconomic changes, technological advancements, economic and political pressures, among others bring with them a confluence of impacts that may seem too external to warrant an animal welfare institution’s notice. These, however, are the very factors that determine the success of any capital investments an institution chooses to make – especially if they seek to ensure relevance and longevity.
In order to understand the impact of these factors over time, emerging and future trends, MKThink performed a futures assessment for a four-acre animal welfare campus located in the City of San Francisco. The future assessment dove into trends affecting the institution across time scales. Insights from this assessment informed planning strategies, which helped position the institution to leverage its physical assets while remaining flexible and adaptable to future changes.
Assessing Changes Over Time
Three focus areas are relevant to the institution’s mission and its geographic context: Urban Design, Veterinary Care, and Animal Welfare. The team identified future trends emerging within each of the focus areas on three timescales — current, emerging, and the far-off-future.
Urban Design Futures
Understanding the impact of urban design now and through the future is key to setting the vision for the institution. Traditional urban design is mostly shaped by land use codes and regulations, transit types, and demographics. The future of urban design may involve more opportunities given advances in technology.
More specifically, there are two urban design adjacent topics that affect the delivery of the institution’s services from the campus: arrival of animals and connection with the community.
Future of Arrival
COMMUTING IN VEHICLES & TRANSIT Ride-sharing is transforming the transit landscape. Today, while Bay Area residents still rely on individual automobile and public transit, ride-sharing services are reducing the number of single-user automobiles on the road. In 2017, an estimated 15% of all weekday trips were ride-shares (SF County Transportation Authority 2017). Commuters are shifting away from driving due to traffic and the high costs of car ownership (Davidson and Webber 2017). Diversifying types of mobility will likely reduce car ownership, parking demand, traffic congestion, and travel times. Mobility changes will have spillover effects on land use as well as local industries and economies. For instance, under-utilized parking lots may engender in-fill development opportunities.
VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY Rapidly changing vehicular technology changes urban infrastructure. Electric vehicles (EVs) have infiltrated the automobile industry. California is leading the nation in EV sales, which represented about 6% of total car sales in 2018, up 300% since 2012 (Bullard 2018). EV sales represent 1.3% of total car sales nationwide. Many City planning departments have responded to the demand for EVs by requiring public parking lots to include charging stations. The State of California requires 6% of nonresidential parking lots to be designated for EVs (Department of General Services 2017).
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are next to arrive on scene. Companies like Waymo, Uber, and GM Cruise are testing AVs on the road (Curbed 2018). Transit planners are bracing for impact. AVs will greatly affect traffic regulations and road types. Moreover, AVs will change how individuals reach key services and transform how services are delivered. Companies, like Waymo, Uber and Embark are developing autonomous trucks to deliver freight (StateScoop 2018). A well designed AV parking lot could accommodate 62% more cars than a conventional one (Nourinejad et al. 2017). AVs will reconfigure supply chains and have the potential to streamline loading and unloading dock operations.
PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE Public infrastructure will be affected by the roll out of AVs, the increased frequency and duration of natural disasters, and shifts towards more human-centered urban design.
AVs will reduce the roadway footprint since sensors and interconnectivity equip AVs can efficiently navigate through fewer and narrower lanes (Sohrweide 2018).
Natural disasters are already affecting public infrastructure. For instance, the 2018 Chico Camp Fire prompted the SFMTA to pull their street cars off the streets due to poor air quality.
Urban designers are also increasingly focusing on creating human-centered urban environments. They are advocating for land restoration by reducing or removing highways and parking lots. In the late 1960s, Seoul tore down a major city-center thoroughfare and replaced it with a five-mile park called Cheonggyecheon that consists of green space, walking paths, and bike lanes, which visitors still enjoy today.
One of the assessment focus area evaluated the most relevant trends to ensure the institution thrives amidst future changes, while maintaining its established role as a mission-driven animal shelter and clinic.
Future of Community
HOUSING San Francisco faces a housing crisis caused by increasing shortages of regular and affordable housing. Housing security for seniors is of particular concern with over half of seniors earning less than 90% of area median income (San Francisco Planning Department 2018). The city needs to implement creative housing policies and facilitate construction efforts.
The city passed a program in 2016, which allows for underutilized residential spaces to be cheaply and quickly converted into Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) CITE. The low cost of ADUs can help homeowners finance their retirement. ADUs can house seniors, who want autonomy at lower costs, while still being connected to their families.
3D printing technology can also be leveraged to efficiently create low-income housing. A nonprofit 3D-printing housing developer, significantly tapers construction time and costs, without sacrificing resilient and energy efficient design. Governments have the potential to 3D-print affordable communities at a fraction of the current cost.
PUBLIC SPACES According to the 2010 census data, 80% of the U.S. population lives in cities; this population has grown by 12.1% since 2000. With the majority population living in urban areas, the development of public green spaces becomes crucial for public health, environmental sustainability, and economic growth.
In recognition of the need for more green space, cities across America are re-purposing abandoned industrial spaces into parks. Since the late 20th century, the public and private sector recognized the constraints on municipalities and began to pool their own resources with the intention to enhance the public realm (The Urban Institute 1999).
Public agencies also rely on their private partners for expertise and staffing to execute projects Public-private cost-sharing can enable rapid development. Furthermore, public-private partnerships introduce broad user affiliations, which can enhance recreation programming.
In 2009, New York transformed a historic train line into the renowned High Line park, which offers an eclectic, plural experience with gardens, performing arts, food and more (Friends of the High Line). San Francisco's new Salesforce Park on the rooftop of the Transbay Terminal Building provides a similar public space. The High Line and Salesforce Park, like similar public spaces, were the product of joint development.
Public space planners are leveraging new technologies to refine sustainable park plans. For instance, an ArcGIS Collector software acquires real-time performance data on park assets, such as water fountains, playgrounds, trash bins and picnic areas. Real-time data allows park officials to address problems as soon as they arise. The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation recently released the
SMART Parks Toolkit, which automates responses to park needs to lighten the load for municipalities and position cities to be more resilient to the stresses and shocks of climate change.
WORKPLACES Three themes are emerging on the horizon of workplace design: 'smart' floor plans, relaxation and nap spaces, and the effect of augmented and virtual (A/VR) on space use.
With data from user feedback and integrated sensor technology, workplace design is becoming dynamic in its 'smart' adaptations to user needs and behaviors. Companies are beginning to algorithmically generate their office floor plans for optimized efficiency and user satisfaction.
Employers are increasingly providing quiet, comfortable relaxation spaces, including power nap pods, to address the negative productivity impacts of sleep deprivation of employees.
Augmented and virtual reality (A/VR) will transform workplaces. The use of personal headsets during presentations, for example, will
Futures in Context
With this detailed futures analysis, the campus vision helped narrow development opportunities that best suit institutional mission to preserve its unique legacy as a pioneer in animal care and welfare. MKThink recommended the institution to position itself to adapt to and compete in the new landscape created by the impact of future modes of arrival, mobility, housing, and public and private spaces.
RIDE-SHARING The institution has the potential to service a ride-sharing program for staff, clients, and visitors to and from its campus site.
AUTONOMOUS LOADING DOCK Autonomous vehicles have the potential to streamline and improve the safety of loading dock operations. The institution must redesign its loading dock operations with the imminent arrival of autonomous trucks in mind.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING The institution has the potential to help San Francisco's housing crisis by leasing parcels to affordable housing developers.
PARKS To meet the growing expectation for public, green space, the institution should develop dog parts, where the local community can convene and socialize with their pets.
OFFICE To continue to attract talent, the institution should consider the expectations from future generations for workplaces to incorporate more communal and rest areas. Furthermore, the institution has the potential to leverage existing user data and sensor technology to optimize workplace efficiency.