Certain places have big ‘brand recognition.’ Scotland, for instance – which I call home – is a brand to be reckoned with. I don’t know if it’s whisky, kilts, braveheart or the independence referendum but for a land with supposedly fewer than 6 million people living in it, it lives large terms of getting international love.
Seattle is an interesting one too. TEV’s taken me cool places and I visited Seattle for the first time last April on a trip to Amazon’s HQ. I thought I knew what to expect: I mean, I’ve watched every episode of Frasier at least once. Plus it’s where Starbucks and Microsoft and Nirvana come from. I expected a sprawling, rainy city that’s all about coffee and computers. And the space needle.
What I saw when I arrived is a surprisingly walkable, low-rise city with an intimate feel. As a googie architecture lover, I was pleasantly surprised by great neon signage hinting at mid-century legacy. It felt anything but an impersonal conurbation, despite its headquartering of tech giants.
Amazon’s wonderfully named “Department of Ideas” held an experimental Radical Urban Transport Salon to get people together from all over the world who are looking at the future of moving people and goods in, out and through cities.
It’s a privilege to see the world as part of one’s work, particularly because it helps remind us not to attempt ‘one size fits all’ changes to transportation. To say different places have different needs is an understatement. Whether it’s the economy, the population, citizen expectations, existing infrastructure, government policies or even just local weather, each place has its own mix of needs that TEV has to meet. That’s why we are designing the envelope of TEV lanes to be adaptable through open innovation. TEV can be tweaked and built to suit local requirements.
The next time I find myself in Seattle can’t be soon enough. I look forward to more good food down at Pike’s Market, live improv theatre and of course, THAT view of everything from sea to mountains to cityscape… which I’ll think of every time I use my space needle shaped salt shaker.