Urban utopia: Liveable cities are Europe’s next luxury export
America’s capital, Washington, DC, was designed by a Parisian. Pierre Charles L’Enfant had a grand vision for the new city he planned of magnificent diagonal boulevards, which opened up the possibilities of city living. The result was a rare European-style urban design in the United States, which stood in stark contrast to the rigid grid urban structure seen elsewhere in the country.
Today, there are few in downtown DC to appreciate L’Enfant’s contribution to his adopted country as the US capital struggles to emerge from its post-lockdown slump.
Office vacancy rates in DC have reached a record high of 18.9 percent. In comparison, the rate in L’Enfant’s birth city (central Paris) is 2.4 percent. These are not anomalous examples; they are both representative of their continent. Overall, the office vacancy rates in the United States and Europe are 21 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. Moreover, while offices are underoccupied across America from New York C