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Ghost City Embodies Future Purpose

Friday, May 29, 2015

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WASHINGTON, DC—A new city is rising in southern New Mexico—but no one will live there.

The 22-square-mile project is an urban laboratory. The first-of-its-kind $1 billion project will be modeled after a mid-sized American city, but no one will actually call it home, according to reports and the project developer, Pegasus Global Holdings.

The ghost space will instead serve as a test bed for technology prototypes, systems and innovation.

rendering of CITE
Images: © Perkins + Will / Pegasus Global Holdings

City Lab in New Mexico will have a power plant, school, churches, airport, highway system, townhouses, office buildings and a mall—but no residents.

Construction could begin this year, with a completion date between 2018 and 2020, reports say.

Perkins + Will Architects is the lead master planner for the futuristic facility.

A CITE for Testing

Called City Lab or CITE (Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation), the development will feature a power plant, school, churches, airport, highway system, townhouses, office buildings and a mall, officials say.

The complex will provide academics, developers, entrepreneurs, government agencies and others with the real-life infrastructure to test and evalute products and technologies in a safe environment, according to Pegasus.

Driverless vehicles and advanced wireless systems are among the technologies expected to find trial homes there.

The city will reflect both new and legacy infrastructure conditions, the company says.

Real-World Risks

“Testing under ‘real world’ conditions places populations, as well as existing operating and service systems, at risk,” according to Pegasus.

City Lab

Shopping centers, two-story homes, and churches are planned for the city without residents.

However, City Lab “will be a true laboratory without the complication and safety issues associated with residents,” Robert Brumley, the managing director of Pegasus, told Wired.

“Here you can break things and run into things and get used to how they work, before taking them into the market.”

The project will create 350 new direct jobs and more than 3,500 indirect jobs through its design, construction, and ongoing operational phases, according to Pegasus.

Government agencies, including the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission, are discussing the model city concept and framework this spring.

The concept also recently inspired an art management class at the University of New Mexico to issue an experimental call for proposals for public art for the city. 

Skeptics React

Not everyone is enamored of the project.

Critics are taking issue with the desert setting and climate. They also say that human beings are needed to safely test new technologies and systems, according to Wired.

“One of the most difficult things to do when developing these new technologies is have them safely navigate around people, who are unpredictable and can suddenly jump out in front of something,” Reese Jones, an associate founder of Singularity University, told the magazine.

Responds Brumley: “If the human experience is a key part of the test, we can add people at any time."

Pegasus, headquartered in Washington D.C., has been working on the concept since 2011.


Tagged categories: Color + Design; Developers; Laboratory testing; North America; Performance testing; Research; Site/field testing; Technology

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