City Grill

Benedict TranelBenedict Tranel
Principal, San Francisco Office

With the rapid development of the driverless car, the design of urban spaces is undergoing a fundamental shift, especially in cities such as San Francisco, Tranel says.

The more immediate impact will be felt in the market by the various suppliers of hardware and technology that support the possibility of a driverless car. The benefits of this are not only economic in terms of driving innovation and technology, they are also environmental.

“The built environment will have to ramp down for cars and ramp up for alternate transportation,” Tranel says.

This means more mixed-use, master planning, transit-oriented projects where activity is concentrated in a small area to create proximity and synergy among a mixture of program types. “Think of San Francisco’s Central SoMa plan, Diridon Station in downtown San Jose, the redevelopment of Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay, and downtown Oakland,” Tranel says. Such long-term projects require a strategy to address a new type of infrastructure around transportation and energy in order to successfully capitalize on future technologies.