Shifting Urban Gravity: Multi-CBD Cities

Tim Blackburn
General Manager, Development & Valuations
Swire Properties, Hong Kong



In the age of the multi-million inhabitant city, the concept of a single, concentrated Central Business District is increasingly becoming unsustainable. As we are seeing in megacities as dispersed as Shanghai, New York and London, the concept of multiple urban centers – drawing on their own unique flavors and infrastructure – has become de facto urban planning policy. Who would argue that centers such as downtown and midtown Manhattan, Canary Wharf and the City of London, or Liujiazhui and the Bund, are not equivalent to cities in their own right? And added to this mix will soon be new iconic centers such as Hudson Yards, Barangaroo and Brickell. The three conference cities of Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong exemplify this urban trend perfectly. The historical urban centers of these cities have now dispersed to numerous nodes simultaneously as the conventional concept of the Central Business District has gradually evolved from a single, concentrated business district to multiple “Core Business Districts.” And as cities stand to increase their populations into the tens of millions, this seems inherently sensible.

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