The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture was recently awarded a grant from the United States Department of Transportation. The funds, to be awarded through 2020, will help establish a transportation center to study megaregions like the Texas triangle. The study will be conducted in conjunction with a consortium of researchers from other institutions like the University of Pennsylvania and Louisiana State University.
UT Associate Professor Ming Zhang will lead the consortium, whose research will focus on three key areas: regional planning, transportation equity, and innovative approaches to high-growth regions. “I envision our UTC CM-2 will become a powerhouse for research, education, and technology transfer, seeking innovative solutions to transportation problems facing the Texas Triangle between Dallas, Austin-San Antonio, and Houston,” says Zhang. “The first steps are: to recruit young talents and invite experienced experts from around the world, to build partnerships with local, regional, and state agencies, and to improve understanding of short-term challenges and long-term trends of people and goods movement in urban and rural communities in the Triangle.”
The City of Austin will also play an essential role in the project, serving as a lab for innovative new theories. “Austin is one of the fastest growing cities and regions in the country,”describes Zhang. “Accompanying the economic and population growth is increase in mobility demand and congestion. Austin is a community full of vibrancy, creativity, and landscape charm. It provides a living lab for researchers and students from UT Austin to explore mobility innovations that help improve Austonian’s travel and quality of life and are also transferable to other places of the country.”
The initiative will further solidify UTSOA’s position as a leader in urban planning, enriching the connections between architecture, urban planning, and transportation. “Travel demand increases and mobility challenges occur due to changes of multiple factors, including economic growth, demographic changes, lifestyle shifts, technological advances, and urban and regional spatial expansion,” says Zhang. “Solutions to mobility challenges should come from multi-disciplinary collaboration through creative thinking, strategic visioning, and engineering actions.”