In December 2004, The Brookings Institution published a report by Virginia Tech professor Arthur C. Nelson titled “Toward a New Metropolis: The Opportunity to Rebuild America.” An analysis of what the built environment will be like in 2030, it determined, among other things, that “about half of the buildings in which Americans live, work, and shop will have been built after 2000” and “most of the space built between 2000 and 2030 will be residential space.”

Over the following year, as news about the report got out, its findings were splashed on the front page of USA Today and other national and local papers, parsed by commentators and industry analysts, and touted by various groups in the building community. The report seemed to bolster the idea of a construction boom that would continue unabated.

Then came 2006, and a cooling housing market, and suddenly things didn't seem so promising.

So ARCHITECT invited Nelson to revisit his data and provide a brief, fresh look at the prospects for America's built environment. The future is as bright as ever, he finds—it just doesn't look quite the same as it did two years ago. The next page breaks down how and where the boom will unfold and presents Nelson's thoughts on related trends and developments. --Braulio Agnese

About the Data

The sources for the figures and analysis in this report include the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Labor, HUD, the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors, and the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Queries about source data may be addressed to Arthur C. Nelson at acn@vt.edu. Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.