Region Forward Blog

Tysons Corner & Surrey BC: Transforming “Edge Cities” into Urban Centers

Feb 17, 2012
Region Forward

An article from Atlantic Cities on the rapid development of Surrey a former edge city near Vancouver recently caught our eye particularly in relation to the effort underway to transform Tysons Corner from a sprawling automobile-centric place to an urban center with transit housing and walkability. Surrey has been undergoing a similar transition and is beginning to even rival Vancouver as the primary center in the metropolitan region.

Surrey British Columbia

The two are not directly comparable examples – it is doubtful that Tysons Corner will become more populous than the District of Columbia in the next 10 years (as is likely for Surrey and Vancouver). Secondly Surrey is much more populated than Tysons Corner. Nonetheless there are some interesting parallels.

In Surrey residential development is intensifying. “Housing is fueling growth in the city” writes Nate Berg. Building a residential base in Tysons is also a key part of that area’s ongoing transformation. Tysons currently has tens of millions of square feet of office and retail development over 150000 parking spots and less than 20000 residents. Given those figures it’s not surprise that the area is a traffic nightmare but the current plan envisions the gap between the residential population and incoming workers to decrease dramatically.

Tysons Corner VA

In addition to growth Surrey is in the process of building a cultural and civic presence for the former edge city:

“ ‘We’re a fairly young city and we’re building a brand new downtown within an existing city. Where else does that happen? It’s a chance for new and revitalized thinking’ Model says.

The emerging downtown of Surrey will be home to a new civic center which will include a city hall a 1600-seat performing arts center a studio theater and the recently completed City Center Library designed by architect Bing Thom. Adjacent to all this is a new $12 million expansion of Simon Fraser University a $240 million surgery and outpatient care center a shopping mall and a station for the region’s SkyTrain transit system.”

In addition to building the Silver Line and adding housing creating a cultural and civic sense of place in the urbanized Tysons Corner of the hopefully near future will be key to making it the DC region’s “second city.”

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