The Skyscraper Museum is devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. The Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. This site will look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.
THE FUTURE FACTORY
In response to the urgent need for jobs and cleaner production, the vertical urban factory could be a model for new innovative factories. It can replace those factories, which now sprawl across pristine landscapes, contributing to uncontrolled development and pollution and leading to health problems and failing ecosystems.
What might the future factory look like? Innovative and environmentally safe, it would be designed to support the worker's well-being. As the examples in this exhibition illustrate, it would be efficient and economical in material use and layout for flexible just-in-time production methods. It would be integrated into the cityscape, educating city dwellers through the display of its production processes, eventually promoting an ethic of making things locally. Urban manufacturing could lead to more entrepreneurial, leaner, cleaner, and greener industries. New industries such as nano tech and bio tech-- not to mention high-design furniture and fashion, printing, specialty and ethnic food, and other niche products-- could revitalize urban economies and become active parts of neighborhoods. By focusing on local consumption, urban manufacturing could also reduce transit costs and commuter time, and save energy similar to the adoption of urban agriculture.
If industrialists and urban planners reconsider the potential for building factories vertically in cities, this, in turn, would reinforce and reinvest in the cycles of making, consuming, and recycling for sustainable cities.
While the future cannot be predicted, possible scenarios can be considered.
Cleaner and Greener
Manufacturing sustainable industries such as plastic and paper recycling, electric cars, and eco-furniture, can be urban-based. Renewable energy production could also support new infrastructures. Collectively, greener manufacturing can support industrial symbiosis, where one factory's waste fuels another; this could apply to entire neighborhoods and towns.
A factory building could engage and educate the public about its activities by displaying its manufacturing processes through large windows. The factory might circulate information about their processes via smart phone applications. Doing this would elevate workers' social and cultural significance and help people appreciate the process of making; it would also function as a marketing tool, further influencing interest in local industry.
Local and Small
High-tech workshops, neo-cottage industries, or shared spaces could be located in new incubator buildings with government support (as they have with bio tech). With the advent of open-source manufacturing software, computer numerically-controlled-machines (CNC) and 3D printers, designers can quickly make prototypes and develop a product in small batches. This could increase innovative, small-scale, just-in-time production for goods on demand to eliminate overproduction. These workshops could also be partnered with other specialty studios to make finished products and encourage local entrepreneurship.
Living and Working
The current segregation of many manufacturing zones could be eliminated and dispersed. Instead, manufacturing could occur everywhere. New clean manufacturing could be allowed in mixed used districts to encourage working and living in proximity. Incentives could be given to companies that take root in a city, and mix the uses in an individual building, increasing economic diversity.
Vertical and Dense
Less stringent zoning and land use regulations could allow factories to be taller, denser, and diversified, resulting in new potentials for multistoried urban manufacturing buildings. The allowable height in many manufacturing areas could be increased with financial incentives, special tax breaks, or loans. Thus, the vertical urban factory could be reinvented in the densest of cities, so that supply would meet demands for space for future new flexible economies.