Over the past half-century, technology and innovation have become the lifeblood of the San Francisco Bay Area economy. Most of the region’s new jobs are in the knowledge sector of the economy, the Bay Area leads the nation in patents and most of the giants of the digital world are based here. But the office environments where this work takes place do not reflect the innovation occurring within. The success of these industries has so far relied on a pattern of land use and development that comes with high environmental and social costs. The suburban corporate campus remains the predominant real estate solution for the region’s employers. With isolated single-use buildings set behind vast parking lots, far away from the public street, it is a model that reinforces dependence on cars and pushes sprawl development into open spaces and farmland.
This environment emerged in an era of wide-open spaces, cheap land and easy mobility by car — an era that is long past. Today that same environment, built for near-term expedience, is expensive, congested and ubiquitous. Nightmarish commutes and soaring home prices are taking a toll on the Bay Area’s prized quality of life, challenging its long-term competitiveness. We have reached the limits of our 20th-century landscape, and our physical environment is holding us back.
Rethinking the Corporate Campus examines the forces that shape our employment landscape, highlights the implications of different models, and recommends policies and practices to tackle two key questions:
How do we encourage employers to choose efficient, sustainable, high-performance locations?
How do we create new locations that are more efficient, sustainable and high-performing?