What are the new mega projects? An assessment of the dimensions of new large scale development projects

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The spread of neo-liberal political and economic ideology and the proliferation of global capital have created new opportunities and challenges for cities everywhere (Sassen 2012). Within the urban planning discourse, it is generally assumed that globalization leads to the same type of transformations and urban development trends everywhere in the world. However, it cannot create a certain prototype for spatial development or a new spatial order for cities. Rather, it gives a variety of spatial patterns, also called "global urban forms". Recently, these forms have identified themselves spatially within a series of "megaprojects", their intensity being felt in today's global cities, north-American and west-European, but with a domino effect, especially in the cities situated at the periphery of these capitalist economies. In the last two decades, we witness a renaissance and reinterpretation of "mega projects" within the global cities as an exclusive model for urban development (Swyngedow et al. 2004). In the European and American context, after a hiatus during the 1980s, many of these cities have responded to the economic pressure and the process of globalization through major projects and mixed-use developments to attain investment opportunities, building new CBDs for multi-national companies and new sites for living1. Total global megaproject spending is assessed at USD 6-9 trillion annually, or 8 percent of total global GDP, which denotes the biggest investment boom in human history. Never has systematic and valid knowledge about megaprojects therefore been more important to inform policy, practice, and public debate in this highly costly area of business and government. It is argued that the conventional way of managing megaprojects has reached a "tension point," where tradition is challenged and reform is emerging (Flyvbjerg, 2011). As a response to the crisis of the comprehensive plan as the classic policy instrument of the Fordist age, the large, emblematic project has emerged as a viable alternative, allegedly combining the advantages of flexibility and targeted actions with a tremendous symbolic capacity. Essentially fragmented, this form of intervention goes hand in hand with an eclectic planning style where attention to design, detail, morphology, and aesthetics is paramount. The emblematic project captures a segment of the city and turns it into the symbol of the new restructured/ revitalized metropolis cast with a powerful image of innovation, creativity, and success. And yet, despite the rhetoric, the replacement of the plan by the project has not displaced planning from the urban arena. In fact, the literature reveals that in most examples there is a strong strategic component and a significant role for planning. However, in the process, there has been a drastic reorganization of the planning and urban policy-making structures and a rise of new modes of intervention, planning goals, tools, and institutions
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